We would like to shine a ’green light’ on Noshua Watson, co-founder of Avant Habit, who is supporting artists in building sustainable small businesses and making goods for culture lovers with a conscience.
We were lucky enough to catch Noshua for an interview.
Hi Noshua! So, how did you get started with Avant Habit?
“We started Avant Habit in 2018 to share our love of fine art in fun, everyday ways”.
“Kelly made a shirt with one of her pieces on it and I thought, “We need to make more of those!”. So we did! Then, in addition to being an artist, Serene works as a creative and she helped make our early days in the pop-ups and street markets happen”.
Great! And what started your sustainable journey?
“My professional background is in corporate social responsibility and I’ve done research on the apparel industry. So when we first thought of making our clothes, the supply chain had to be transparent”.
“It took us two years to find the right suppliers. We then updated our supply chain about a year ago so we can be circular and recycle everything we make”.
If you had to describe it in a nutshell, what’s Avant Habit’s Vision and Mission?
“Support independent artists by selling unique and original goods sustainably. Because art and culture make life worth living.”.
It’s been a challenging year, how has COVID-19 affected your business?
“The pandemic has changed where people go and what they wear. We were no longer able to sell in markets and pop-ups, which were our biggest source of revenue (and also fun)”.
“Without getting to meet our audience face to face, we had to go back and think about how we would continue to meet their needs for art, life, and culture in the form of clothing”.
“We also have had to plan and work in much faster, shorter bursts than before. It’s taking time, but our biggest fans are still with us and we’ve discovered new ones”.
In addition to Avant Habit, you have also founded Interwoven – tell us about that?
“Working in the street markets, we met lots of other sustainable small businesses. We realised that we all needed certain support in growing our businesses and networking”.
“So I started an events series that turned into a platform that helped sustainable small businesses learn and get exposure at major trade shows, music festivals and cultural venues”.
“The pandemic shifted that too, so now we’re providing the business and networking support online through Interwoven”.
What a fantastic initiative! Now we know that the fashion industry accounts for about 10% of global carbon emissions, and nearly 20% of wastewater – how do you think the fashion industry can change to become more sustainable?
“From my perspective, people first. If you can’t make what you want to make and pay people fairly, that’s not a viable business model. We also need to reconsider the wholesale-retail model. That’s not environmentally or economically sustainable, especially for small businesses”.
“After that, I think reduce, recycle, reuse are pretty fundamental principles and technology has a big role to play here. Digital design and prototyping, plus new materials reduce waste, allow us to recycle materials, and also upcycle”.
“There are also lots of great repair and resale businesses emerging. And it doesn’t have to be super technical. We can’t afford CAD and don’t have the technical expertise. So if there are new cuts or designs we want to try, we mock them in Canva and “try” them on digital models before we decide what we’re going to make samples of”.
And what can individuals do to help reduce the impact their wardrobe has on the planet?
“Individual-level solutions are closest to us, but it’s a systemic issue. It’s more than buying sustainably or buying less. My take on it is to support the people who have the skills to create the circular loops, like tailors and seamstresses or re-sale and second-hand proprietors. And when you buy, buy from circular brands ; ).”
Absolutely! And what are you excited about for the future?
“We want to keep bringing art to people and showing them ways they can support culture even when they can’t be there in person. We can keep culture thriving”.
Indulge in some seriously original, ethical, unusual, and sustainable goods by independent artists at https://avanthabit.com/ or follow on Instagram @Avanthabit.
You can also learn about Noshua’s work with sustainable small businesses @beinterwoven or www.beinterwoven.com.