A Helping Hand on Portobello Road

There has been a significant surge of interest in environmentally friendly products in recent years, with more and more businesses stepping up to challenge questions surrounding ethics and waste in our global economy.

Eco Fashion, or sustainable fashion, is an alternative, growing trend against the mass-market of fast fashion. A fresh approach to the design, sourcing and manufacture of clothing which maximises benefits to people and communities while minimising impact on the environment.

Giovanna Eastwood founded Ethical Collection in 2015, encouraged by the work of her mother's charity in Brazil. The charity taught young women to craft and sell bags made of recycled material and Giovanna witnessed the impact that the work had on these women and their communities.  

Enthusiastic about her friend Giovanna's style and purpose, Annina Youngblood joined the team in late 2016. Always inspired by the value of people, their stories and skills, Annina took a leap of faith and left her career in finance to invest in her creative side. Together, they run Ethical Collection, an eco-luxury boutique that curates a collection of some of the finest and unique sustainable products from designers and artisans around the globe.

To manage seasonal demand, Ethical used the GIG app to hire Retail Assistants. We caught up with Marie Krebs, Ethical’s Business Operations Manager, to discuss the impact today’s spending habits have on the environment and how a physical presence can create stronger relationships with your customer base.

In a world of fast-fashion, what does it mean to be ethical?

Ethical means many things to many people. Our approach is simple - we strive for exceptional quality, diversity and vibrancy throughout our collections executed in a way that treats people and the planet fairly. Thus, empowering us all to choose beautiful, sustainable items with a story.

As an online retailer, why is it important for your brand to have a physical presence?

Having a physical presence is important for us on many levels. Through our stores, we can meet our customers and engage with them creating a stronger, more personal relationship. Our brands have unique stories and pop-ups are a great way for us to tell these stories and see how people respond. We get to know our customers more and learn about who they are, what they are looking for as well as which brand is a favorite, getting direct feedback from our customers. Another important thing is the interaction between the customers and our pieces. People can touch and feel the clothes and accessories, try pieces on to see how they fit, and are therefore more likely to become a returning online customer.

It’s not always easy making the transition from e-commerce to bricks and mortar, what was the process involved for you to acquire and set up on Portobello Road?

We made sure we planned each stage very carefully. We browsed and viewed all available space in the Notting Hill area and picked up with the landlords. Before each pop-up, we work out exactly how we want to set the space up and draft up a sales and staffing strategy. On the day, move the furniture and products with movers and get to work merchandising the shop. Then, we simply adjust the set-up according to what works and what doesn't.

How has hiring on-demand benefitted your business?

We are predominantly online and although this is not our first retail experience, we are new to having pop-ups for six months straight. GIG allows us to be flexible around our schedules and re-integrate office hours in our working days (us being the core Ethical Collection team, people working on the online store, operations, marketing, graphic design, social media, photoshoots and events).

What’s in store for the future of Ethical Collection?

Ethical Collection is a force for positive change. We want to continue to bring mindfulness to your everyday shopping choices, not just enriching your lives but the lives of those who make our products. Throughout this journey we have worked with dozens of ethical artisans and sustainable designers from around the world, collaborated with local projects and engaged with thousands of our amazing customers and followers.

We are a young business and believe that flexibility is key. As we grow, we understand our customers and their expectations more, so we work on making sure that our idea of Ethical Collection and their expectations match and that everyone can benefit from it. Hopefully... that means a permanent store!

Looking to hire on-demand? Speak to Luke@gigtogig.co.uk to find out more.