Culture, style and ethical fashion with Mountain & Moon
The next in our series focusing on emerging Perth-based labels.
We're continuing to put local emerging WA labels under the microscope as we begin fully recognise the talent on offer. We recently took some time to speak to Audrey Allen, who is one of two in a dynamic duo reponsible for Mountain & Moon. She talks to us about social media, hard work and ethical fashion - highlighting the difference between Mountain & Moon and the fast fashion culture we're facing in the modern textile era.
From earrings to tote bags, Mountain and Moon has you covered in their designs that emenate sophistication and class. However, dont be mistaken - there is nothing pretentious about this brand. What's really amazing about them is their authentic and unique procedures in production, following a humble and ethical conduct. They pay homage to the culture that goes into the creation of these products. Although based here in Australia, the girls spend a majority of their time in India designing, sourcing and working hands on with artisan's and small women's groups. Mountain and Moon invites you to engage in their method, and it's in love and value for your belongings with a deep appreciation knowing it was brought to you by a safe and loving environment.
Can you describe Mountain & Moon in 3 words?
Artisanal, ethical and luxe.
What kind of girl wears Mountain & Moon?
Babes that care about wearing things that not only look amazing, but that come from an amazing place. The brand has always been about the travellers, dreamers, spirited creatures, collectors and lovers of beautiful things. Strong women who believe in the concept of creating opportunities for those less fortunate through their consumerist behaviours. Fashion conscious babes that don’t follow trends but choose to invent their own style that is eclectic and true. Those girls that look at the world as a connected universe in which the positivity and good energy that they put out there is received gratefully, creating harmony and balance and a belief in the power of the sisterhood.
At what point in your lives were you when you started the label?
We were both very obsessed with travel and really just wanted to gallivant around the world forever! So MM was started to help make that dream a reality. We wanted to work for ourselves and create something beautiful that we loved and made us happy, but we wanted to do it in a way that also made us feel good. We weren’t interested in being another brand that was contributing to the fast fashion world and a movement that promotes consumerism in the traditional way. We really gave a shit from the beginning about where our products came from and who was making them and we have stuck with that and MM has truly grown organically from that original idea.
Mountain & Moon has such a strong brand ethos, tell us about that?
We work with enterprising grassroots NGO’s such as IPHD, who we are now partnered with to encourage and support women’s empowerment via employment and education. India has become our second home and a place to refresh, re-balance and spark our imagination and creativity, all whilst being challenged and pushed to our limits. Mountain & Moon celebrates our love for India, and we believe the label has a story to tell, with its unique collections of handmade jewelry, garments and homewares that celebrates the culture and history behind these designs.
What creative process do you undergo to make a piece for the label?
We both really know what we like, and have a penchant for dreaming up designs in our heads and workshopping them with each other to create something that we both think will look really beautiful and will be embraced by our customers. We both just sketch by hand and usually a hundred pieces of paper later we have a collection that we are really happy with. We also spend ALOT of time on Pinterest and Instagram gathering inspo. Our favourite place to design though is in India, because it is a really magical world that takes us completely away from what’s going on in Australia and helps us to come up with ideas that we would never have at home. Everything is completely different in India, it really is the EXACT opposite to Australia and the crazy chaos gets us really excited and inspired.
Are there any brands, artists or designers who inspire you?
Yas definitely! We love amazing jewelry designers like Pamela Love and Jacqui Aiche who create out of this world jewelry that constantly blows our minds with heavenly gemstones that are just seriously so beautiful. Our lovely friend Fabienne from YCL Jewels is also amazing, her handmade ethical and vegan jewellery is so beautiful and so is she. We also are obsessed with the brand Reformation, who make the raddest clothing in an ethical way, and are also really witty and cute with all their environmental tips. We love everybody that is truly giving it a go and doing something different in the fashion world, because it takes a lot of courage and isn’t always easy, but seriously, ethical brands are the way of the future so anyone doing baby steps to spread the message is a total inspiration <3.
What’s it like starting a label in the day and age where Instagram is a mega marketing tool? Would you say that it's helped you?
Yes definitely, Instagram has actually been our biggest selling tool from the beginning. We have gained free access to a whole audience that we might otherwise have never reached with traditional marketing. We have also made friends and connections via Insta, which is really valuable especially when working abroad. It’s really easy to get down on the fact that social media has kind of taken over our lives, but rather than get stressed out by it we just embrace it and utilize it for its positive benefits for our business.
What has been the proudest moment so far? What are you most happy with?
There’s been lots of proud moments along the journey, like seeing new collections come to life from a sketch on a piece of paper to a beautiful piece of jewelry. That’s pretty cool to see, especially since we both never trained in this element of design. Or sitting on our computers for countless hours, day after day, night after night, building a website because we didn’t have enough money to pay someone to do it… but it actually turned out good! But really, the best moment happened only last week, when we had our launch event for our new collections and we donated 20% of our sales on the night to our partner NGO in India, IPHD. When we spoke to the lovely Madhu who’s the head of IPHD, we told her we would be sending our donation through and she was so happy, because the amount that we gave her was enough to cover the health insurance for a year for 16 women in the village that are working for us. This village is very traditional, and most people are living under the poverty line and struggling with health issues every day. This was the proudest moment yet, because this is exactly what we want to achieve with our brand, helping to empower, educate and assist these communities in a sustainable way.
What advice would you give to other young creatives looking to pursue a similar path in the fashion industry?
Don’t wait for something to fall into your lap. You do have to work really really hard, but if you are working on something you love then it will feel amazing anyway. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help, majority of people that are on this journey love to give advice and share stories. Be yourself, if you copy others you will never do it as good as them anyway and you won’t be on your authentic path. If it doesn’t feel right it probably won’t look right to your customers. Also, red wine is probably your best friend when you are working late every night trying to meet deadlines!
Where do you hope to see this go?
We want to branch out and not only work with the artisans in India but also travel to other countries that harbor specific traditional crafts that we can find a way to work with. We have always wanted to make this a global brand that promotes ethical production and provides a sustainable living for artisans worldwide. We started out small, and have learnt so much so far and have really seen the label grow in ways we could have only imagined, so who knows where the future will take us…