I’m not just passionate about protecting elephants. I’m passionate about sustainability and human rights too — which is why I refuse to compromise on working with ethical and sustainable suppliers. What’s the point of creating a product with purpose if it would harm the people making it and the world it's claiming to change?
So, in 2019, my husband Craig and I travelled to Bali to meet with potential manufacturers of Trunks. We wanted to meet with the staff, get a sense of their working conditions, learn about their sustainability processes, and make sure everything was in-line with Trunks values. Forgive the caps lock but THE TRIP WAS AMAZING! The people we met were so kind and talented — they showed us some incredible local textile techniques that blew our minds, like using mango leaves to dye fabric yellow — but most importantly, they had a strong commitment to minimising negative environmental impacts, and creating fair and ethical working conditions for the people sewing the garments.
We left feeling full of confidence that we had found the most perfect suppliers who would help us ensure that Trunks would not be harming people or the planet through our production. Sounds too good to be true? Yeah … it was.
The day before I was about to pay for my first run of Trunks, I received a call from my amazing supplier who said that due to COVID, they needed to fundamentally change their business and reduce the number of companies they were working with. She told me apologetically that that meant they could no longer work with me to bring my elephant-loving undies to life.
I was crushed. But I also recognised my privilege. COVID affected (and continues to affect) so many people and businesses around the world, and I am super lucky that my family, friends and day job were all safe. If only my side hustle was impacted, I have to be grateful for that. I just felt for all the people whose health and livelihoods were being impacted by this horrific pandemic, especially the friends I’d made in Bali who lost their jobs due to such economic uncertainty. I look forward to the day when we can work together again soon.
So what to do after spending a full year of working on pattern design, sourcing fabrics, building an online store, and having constant back and forth communication with suppliers, only for it to amount to nothing? I decided to push pause on Trunks in order to focus on my new day job and live my best lockdown life (puzzles, making banana bread, y’all know the deal). But the itch I had to make my dream a reality never diminished.
I couldn’t bring myself to send my underwear range to be made anywhere except Bali. This idea of not only giving money to elephant conservation but also supporting the people and businesses in Bali through ethical manufacturing is so important to me. I absolutely love the idea of a garment helping on both ends of the process. Besides, I couldn’t (and still can’t) find an Aussie supplier who manufactures underwear here either. So the Great Pivot of 2020 was born.
I asked myself, what’s the closest thing to undies? And the answer hit me straight away. Everyone’s personal uniform of 2020 — comfy, cosy loungewear! I reached out to the amazing Adam from Wrinkle Apparel, who specialise in creating beautifully designed, quality and limited-run garments for the charity industry, and together, we created the Trunks x Wrinkle loungewear collection, available from 26th of June 2021. I’m super proud of how this collection has come together and can’t wait to send that first donation to the Barumun Nagari Wildlife Sanctuary, who look after 15 critically endangered Sumatran elephants.
If life is The Amazing Race, we were all handed a detour card last year. But the saying “all good things come to those who wait” simply doesn’t apply when we’re talking about saving elephants. Sadly, we’re running out of time and I can’t wait for the world to open up again to start helping them. So until the day comes when I can get back to Bali and work with those wonderful people to create the most fabulous pair of undies anyone has ever seen, I will keep it pushing. And by the grace of my own personal Lord and Saviour, Ms Taylor Swift, Trunks for Trunks will be out in the world one day soon!