Can you tell us about Yireh’s beginnings?
When I was 21 years old I decided to spend some extended time living in Indonesia. I wanted to learn more about the culture and the language. Living in Indonesia I was so inspired by all of the fabrics, and textures and began to dream of creating a product. One day I happened to run into one of my husbands friends, a balinese local, and he asked me if I wanted to make t-shirts. I felt that it was fait and decided to accompany him to his home to meet his aunt who had an at home sewing setup. After having tea and sharing a meal I decided I wanted to start my creative journey with this family, and support them and their business. I designed Yireh's first product, the Pantai Short (which has been a best seller ever since!). I spent six months sourcing fabrics, learning how to make everything form labels, to hang tags and other marketing materials. I took everything back with me to Hawai'i, setup a website and within a month everything sold out! Today our production is still done in Indonesia, as it is a country that remains super close to my heart, and we partner with two ethical manufacturers.
What are you inspired by?
I am inspired by people! I get inspired to create when I see others living in their passion. It inspires me to live out my own! I am also inspired by color. Color is where I start every new project.
What does sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability to me does not mean perfection. But rather choosing to be on a lifelong journey to do better, and be better for our planet and its occupants. It's making small decisions daily that eventually lead to big change.
Why is sustainability important to you?
As a designer, creating is what I do for a living. That being said, I think it is important to do so responsibly. I am from Hawai'i and am so lucky to be able to swim in the ocean frequently. It breaks my heart that if our habits as a human race continue, statistically speaking there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. I don't want that for my daughter, or anyones children for that matter! Now is the time to make changes, even if they are small ones.
How do you embed sustainability into your production practices?
As of right now we produce small batch collections throughout the year which cuts down on our textile waste. We also re-use prints we've either created, or purchased from Kukukachu by changing the color ways so they look like brand new prints. This cuts down on the waste caused by screen emulsion. We have also just recently added Linen fabric to our collections which is a natural fiber and 100% biodegradable. Another cool way the factories we work with cut down on waste their waste is by selling their excess fabric scraps to small local businesses in Indonesia. These small businesses then re-use the scraps by making them into homewares such as fabric rugs and coasters. And as for our shipping, we use 100% compostable mailers made from corn! So eventually if they are put into a backyard compost pile or end up in a landfill they will break down!
Do you think your sustainability practices has impacted sales in any way?
I think I have seen an increase in sales after implementing sustainable practices on top of our ethical manufacturing. I believe consumers are starting to demand transparency from the brands they purchase from (and rightfully so!). I also believe that women are willing to spend a little bit more on brands that align with their personal ethos.
What does the future hold for Yireh?
I have so many dreams for the brand! I want to continue to promote overall wellness for women which includes mental health as well as physical. I hope to do so by continuing to create content that provides helpful resources through our newsletter, blog, and eventually courses! I also hope to expand into a kids line, after having my daughter I want matching dresses! And my next goal sustainably speaking is to figure out a plastic replacement for our garments to be packaged in, that doesn't break the bank. Many fun things to come!
You can check out the amazing collections from Yireh here