Giovanna Eastwood’s company, Ethical Collection London, is a fashion business with a difference. All of the items sold from the company’s website are ethically made by small, companies from countries like Brazil, Bangladesh and India and Giovanna ensures that all of the products are made sustainably as well as ethically. As well as clothes, Ethical Collection London sells a range of items including jewellery, bags, homewares and accessories, all made using traditional methods.
Giovanna launched the business in May 2015 after more than two years of research and planning. Prior to that, she’d worked in the fashion business in a variety of roles for nine years after gaining a degree in Product Design and Development from the London College of Fashion.
“I got the idea for the business when I was volunteering in one of the Rio de Janeiro favelas for a charity called Ephemeral Brazil which my mother Cristina founded. Ephemeral Brazil promotes education and enterprise with some of Brazil’s poorest communities and I was living and working in the favela on a project where women were making bags from recycled materials.
“This gave me the idea of an ethical fashion retail business that would take products from around the world helping the communities where they were manufactured. Of course, the products also need to be of a high standard and beautiful in themselves.
“I came across the Portobello Business Centre a couple of years ago and early on I went on the three-day Business Start Up Course. That gave me a basic grounding in all the things I needed to think about in planning and starting a business and it was extremely useful.
“I also had a number of one-to-one sessions with one of the Centre’s business advisors, Maria Stammers. Maria was a great help and her advice and guidance was always very clear and direct. Her words of encouragement also helped to give me the confidence I needed to set up this enterprise.
“I then went on to do the Business Centre’s Fashion Masterclass with David Jones. That course taught me a huge amount about the business of fashion, and even although it lasted only four days I learnt a great deal about the practicalities of setting up a fashion business. I got lots of tips, sometimes just about quite small things you perhaps wouldn’t think of yourself but which end up being very important.
“After that course, David became my mentor which means that we meet once a week. I always arrive with a list of questions for him. David has so much experience in the business and brings a welcome touch of old school values even though he’s absolutely up to date on what’s going on in the fashion world.
“Now the business is doing really well and we’ve sold out of some lines which has to be a good sign. I’m always looking for new designers and product lines and now I’m actually being approached by people who’d like to sell through my site which is great. In the future, I’d like to get more involved in actually meeting and getting to know the designers and artisans. Ultimately, I’d like eco-luxury to become completely mainstream!
“The Portobello Business Centre has been really important to me, they’ve been very, very helpful. They’ve played a big part in getting my business to where it is now, I really feel like I’m living my dream. If you’re thinking of starting a business you should definitely go there!”
Ethical Collection London