Behind The Brand Interviews

Interviews with the founders of ethical and sustainable brands to learn more about why it is they do what they do, who made the things they sell and the stories they have to tell of their journey so far. 

Sarah Pretorius from Carlyle the Label


Remember the incredible ethically made and biodegradable brand Carlyle the Label from a few weeks back? Well, I was lucky enough to connect with the founder, Sarah, and have her answer some of the more pressing questions about all thing Carlyle and her world beyond Carlyle. Personally, I find learning more about the person beyond the brand makes me love the brand that much more.

As I’m sure you are aware by now, the whole point of these interviews is to fill the void between the brand and the people behind it. If you have any questions you’d like answered in future interviews let me know! Otherwise, sit back and start your day, or end your night, with an interview with an epic legend. This girl and her brand are going to be an absolute gamechanger to the world of ethical and sustainable fashion.

What made you start Carlyle the Label?
Since I was a little girl, I have dreamed of owning my own fashion label. I love creating and fashion has become my medium for expression. You will usually find me making projects and trying out my entrepreneurial skills. I kinda always knew I wanted to be a girlboss, but wasn’t quite sure how I was going to achieve that nor what my niche would be. I studied a Bachelor of Fine Arts: Fashion, at the Queensland University of Technology, and in my third year something clicked during a stretchwear unit class. I was going through a huge fitspo phase and fell in love with activewear, but was disappointed with the current offerings on the market. After University, I began creating a collection of activewear which included swimwear. Once I started, I couldn’t stop designing swim pieces so my label became predominantly swimwear.

I grew up on a farm, so I have a deep respect for the environment and natural landscape. Studying fashion, I learned that there are so many unethical and entrenched environmentally degrading processes, that I wanted Carlyle the Label to be different. My vision for the brand is to be as eco-friendly as possible, and to be manufactured ethically above all else. I also wanted to create an eco-label that is accessible to everyone and to be luxe quality, but affordable for anyone who wants to make more conscious consumer choices.

What has been the most challenging thing you have uncovered since the beginning?
There have been many challenges along the way but getting started was a huge challenge for me. I struggled trying to find a manufacturer with low minimums, ethical practices and low impact to the environment. I had learned a lot about sustainability at university and it was very important for me not to go backwards and start something that wasn’t going to be sustainable. I wanted it to be the best it could be from the start. Eventually I came across my manufacturer and I couldn’t believe how much time I wasted not having found them earlier, however I had to learn to love the process and that it was part of the journey for Carlyle the Label. Challenges continued when I had to face huge import duties and shipping fees from Brazil where my manufacturer is located. I almost considered starting the process from scratch again. Being predominantly self-funded and using all of my spare pennies on shipping to launch my label on literally no funds was challenging, but it enables me to be creative in the way that I do things!

Is there something you wish you had known before you started?
That things will go wrong, and that it’s a good thing. It sounds corny, but it makes your brand and your process grow stronger.

Best piece of advice you have ever received?
My mother told me that if you are 2% responsible for something, be 100% responsible for that 2%. It’s something I strive to live by – being wholly committed to even the smallest obligations and taking responsibility for a mistake that I might have even contributed 2% to. I have learned so much from my mother.

One book everyone should read? Why?
I actually love ‘Want to Start a Business’ by Kristina Karlsson, Kikki.K founder. You don’t have to want to start a business to find this little book essential. It’s full of great tips to get the most out of your day, to enjoy the little things, to maximise productivity and how to be a better version of yourself. It’s a super cute and easy read which I like to read again and again.

Where do you envision Carlyle in the future?
Well I think everyone would like to see their designs on Beyonce? Haha. But I would really like Carlyle to be a label that can create practical change in our world. With the help of our wonderful manufacturers, we are designing fashion that won’t cause damage to our environment. I ultimately want Carlyle to be people focused and the core value of our brand. There is so much slavery and slave labour in the world today, and I think there are many people who don’t realise it. And sadly, a lot of it occurs in the fashion industry. Our mindless fashion choices support this industry and it’s our responsibility as consumers to use our buying power responsibly. I think the future of Carlyle is continuously evolving. We are always going to strive to innovate: from our fabrics to our ethical practices. Everyday that future changes slightly towards a better brand. However, I know that I don’t want to settle for small impact. The fashion industry, especially fast fashion, is having huge implications on the environment and human rights and at times it feels like an overwhelming issue. To make real change, I envision Carlyle to become more than ethical swimmers, I want it to become an idea and a movement that inspires others to support ethical fashion. To do this, we need to find our place in the market and grow so that we can achieve maximum moral impact.

What inspires you to do what you do on a daily basis?
Quite simply, the love of it. I really do enjoy my day-to-day work and although there are heaps of inspirations on deeper levels, the love of having my own label and the constant unknown of where it might be taken next is enough in itself to provide me with daily inspiration.

Do you have a morning routine? If so, what is it you do to set yourself up for the day ahead?
My week varies a lot so it depends on which day, but no matter the day I always take time to wake up a bit earlier than I have to. I make a coffee for my husband and myself and take it back to bed to just enjoy the morning light before beginning my day. I start the day at my desk with my favourite pen and to-do-list to write down everything that I want to achieve that day. I’m such a sucker for lists and I have so many of them!

Are there any other Movers & Shakers out there in the world that you think people should know about?
Gosh, there are so many! I’m so lucky to be surrounded by inspirational people. My best friend, Aleesha, is a visual storyteller who is shining light on people and products making a difference. 

& there you have it friends. Another Beyond the Brand interview done and dusted with a brand that I believe really epitomises the idea that you don’t have to sacrifice style for sustainability. If you want to support Sarah and her brand Carlyle you can do so via her website or on her socials via Instagram.

Jasmine MayheadComment