Within moments, it was clear Alex and I were going to get along. Yoga, sustainable fashion, van life. All the boxes were ticked.
I fell in love with this brand’s story instantly. One determined entrepreneur, having gone on a life-changing journey, decided to tackle a new company head on, without ever compromising on her values.
Raw Flora produces handmade activewear, with all fabrics being sustainably sourced, to produce beautiful garments to run, stretch and play in. Alex sews all the garments herself at her home in Devon, so customers can trust that each piece is diligently perfected.
Keep reading to get inspiration on how you may turn your own hobbies into a livelihood and get an exclusive 15% discount code off this entire range!
1. Thanks so much for taking the time to speak to me Alex! Firstly, can you tell us what’s the story around Raw Flora? How did you begin?
I started sewing and yoga around the age of 18, when I was struggling with my mental health. I was getting lots of anxiety and just needed an outlet. I fell in love with them both and they became my life.
Then, my other half and I converted an old sprinter van and went travelling around Europe. We were living entirely off grid and our life was so minimal, we were just focusing on getting back to nature. We never went shopping or did anything like society tells us we need, so it just changed my mindset entirely.
As we had a small budget and were away for a longer period of time, I found myself buying the odd cheap item to clothing, to keep me going. For someone that is used to buying slightly more expensive items, I really noticed how awful they were in comparison to what I was used to. They lasted like two minutes and constantly got holes. I decided that wasn’t ok.
We came back to the UK just 1 week before lock down. This meant that the job I’d had lined up was no longer viable. I ended up picking up some home-based seamstress work for a fast fashion company. I immediately regretted it. The quality of the materials, the attitude of what was expected from me, the pay, everything was screaming at me that this was so wrong. This is when everything clicked.
‘I thought why am I working for someone else when I could work for myself and do it in a way that aligns with my values?’
So, I combined my two loves of yoga and sewing and Raw Flora was born!
2. What would you say makes your products more sustainable and higher quality than other activewear?
Where I source my fabric from is really important.
One of my main sources is this amazing company, with the majority of their yarn coming from discarded fishing nets, which they even retrieve from the ocean themselves. They can extract the nylon to make the yarn, which I use in my lycra products e.g., sports bras and leggings. They also get material from industrial and post-consumer waste. I’m a big fan of the ocean, so this was a massive tick for me!
My softer fabric comes from bamboo and organic cotton, which I’m pleased with, but keen to improve this even further where I can, as I’m sure I can find even better companies. However, the quality is defiantly there, which is the case with all of my products. I gave away lots of items to friends and family when I started and I’m thrilled that they are all looking great so I can ensure that these items will wear well.
As I make everything myself, I can attest that a lot of hard work and love goes into all my products at Raw Flora.
3. Have you found it difficult to stand out as a small business in an ever-growing ‘sustainability’ market?
It can be difficult to stand out, especially as a new company. The fact that I make the clothes myself is something that currently gives us an edge.
The recycled/sustainable materials are all fantastic, but a lot of companies are using these now. This is great, but what I think people don’t always realise is all the elements that go on behind the scenes in relation to a sustainable company, besides just the material. I need to talk about this more for Raw Flora, which could help elevate us even more.
Now days, with everything being online, it can feel difficult to get heard, especially as its just me so the promotion side of it can only be a small part of what I’m doing. I have to remember to have a healthy work/life balance as well!
‘In honesty, I would say standing out if the hardest part of all of this.’
4. How do you want your customers to feel when wearing your products? How would you say it fits within their lifestyle?
Oooh interesting question!
Comfortable has to be number one, considering how they will physically be using the clothing e.g., lounging or being more active.
I want them to look good, so they feel good. I think they look high-quality, which should give customers a boost.
In terms of lifestyle, because its leisurewear, I’m hoping that the reason they buy it is to improve their hobby and perhaps give them a bit more motivation as they enjoy wearing these items. Maybe even do it more!
5. What’s a typical day like for you?
My days can vary a lot. I generally have sewing and non-sewing days. On my sewing days I’m literally in my sewing studio all day. I aim to do bulk cutting, pressing and sewing, so that I am more efficient.
On my non-sewing days, its normally just me and the laptop. I’ll restock orders, be active on my Instagram, emails, admin etc. So, my days are very split.
I have my clothing in a local yoga studio, so I’m often there exchanging and replenishing stock. I am also doing my yoga teacher training at the moment, so I do 1-2 classes a week in the evenings.
I love that this links so well with Raw Flora. I was teaching a class the other day, so I was in the studio wearing my clothing, and then you walk out and there my clothes on display, which is just so cool.
6. What are your proudest achievements to date with Raw Flora?
One of my favourite achievements was when we planted over 100 trees, as Raw Flora is partnered with One Tree Planted, which means a tree is planted for each product bought. This doesn’t sound like very much compared to companies that have planted millions, but for little old me to have contributed to planting 117 trees makes me really happy!
The fact that my clothes are in a yoga studio, in such a small amount of time since we opened (launched in January 2021), I think is massive, to actually have someone that’s want to stock clothing that I’ve made is so cool. Super proud of that.
To be honest, what I am most proud of is just doing it. It’s the kind of thing I could have sat on for a long time, but not actually committed. I’m so glad I did.
7. Do you have any tips for future eco entrepreneurs?
I would say - be patient. Its so hard to stick to your morals and what you believe in when everything in this world is shouting against it. Every time you are trying to research a new supplier or a new item etc, its so easy so just let one thing slide.
Instead, I’d advice holding off and being patient as something will come along. Be determined and don’t give in!
Use the code HIPPYLIVING to get 15% off the entire Raw Flora range, exclusive for Hippy Highland Living blog readers.
If you are an eco entrepreneur and would like to feature on this blog, please do get in touch. I’d love to hear from you!