Welcome To The Members' Club!
I really can't begin to say how humbled and how excited I am to welcome you as a member of The Members' Club.
As part of The Members’ Club I want to give you all the support you need to turn your ideas into wildly successful businesses. I believe that design and textile products should be beautiful and responsible from the first pencil stroke, to the raw material, to the end of the fabric’s life. I hope this is the beginning of an incredible journey of discovery for you.
The team and I will be in touch soon, but I love to hear how you're getting on and where you are on your journey, so please do keep us up to date. Before you get stuck in, here's a little video (scroll to the bottom of the page for the full transcript), introducing you to:
- who I am and what I do
- why ethical design is so important, now more than ever and why I started The Members' Club
- what The Members' Club is all about
My name is Charlie Ross and I am founder and Director of Offset Warehouse - you’ve probably got to know me quite well by now, with my persistent emails and messages, but I really just wanted to say a huuuuge WELCOME to the club!
I couldn’t have asked for a better selection of entrepreneurs to be our Founder Members, and to help shape this into a resource that’s really for you. We’ve hit the perfect number of people -as I said, I was keen not to have toooo many people - because you can imagine lots of suggestions so you’re not heard and not too few.
I absolutely love textiles, and I have the best job in the world – sourcing beautiful, hand-crafted fabrics, trims and threads from across the globe. Our products are always on trend, proving you can be eco and fashionable. But more importantly, we know exactly where everything has come from, who made it and that the workers are looked after and fairly paid. I’m very proud of that.
I am a designer, businesswoman, lecturer, writer and self-confessed fabric obsessive! It all began when I was studying Menswear Design at the Royal College of Art in London. My eyes were opened to the hideous social and environmental impact of commercial fabric production, and so I made the decision to use only sustainable and ethically-sourced textiles and eco-friendly dyes in my work. But that was when my problems started. Not only was it really difficult to source the products, but I needed small amounts for my designs, and anything I managed to find was only available in bulk.
Far from being put off, however, these initial obstacles made me more determined than ever. Once I dug deeper and found out about the slave labour and farmer suicides associated with unfair wages and worker rights, I just didn’t want to be a part of it. So I put my design career on hold and in 2010, started Offset Warehouse.
We’re a social enterprise which aims to bring together under one roof fabrics and haberdashery which are ethical, sustainable, fairly-sourced, Fairtrade, organic, recycled or upcycled so our clients can shop easily and with confidence, and buy from one to hundreds of metres. We keep an eye on all the latest trends, so our fabrics are always fashion forward, our prices are fair and extremely competitive – and there isn’t an old-fashioned, itchy fabric to be found!
Today, the eco fashion market is 25 times bigger than it was 15 years ago, and I’m delighted that Offset Warehouse has played a part in spearheading that. I’ve learnt a huge amount since I started, and I love sharing that knowledge and experience. I offer lectures to fashion and textiles students and other groups, I run courses and events and I write articles for books, magazines, Sew Obsessed and The Swatch Book, among others.
One of the things that most delights me is my job allows me to bring to a wider market fabrics crafted from new and unusual raw materials. Not many people are aware that soy, hemp, jute, recycled plastic bottles, banana plants – and even milk! – can be used to make beautiful textiles. As well having substantially less environmental impact, one of the main advantages is they provide a living wage for the people who make them, and that’s absolutely crucial to me.
I really feel we’re experiencing the beginning of a revolution. Eco fashion has shed its reputation for being dull and limited and has emerged as fashionable, luxurious and even aspirational. Collectively, we as consumers wield enormous power, and if we stand together we can make a huge difference.
Major designers and high street retailers are beginning to realise there’s a viable and engaged market out there, and more and more are taking up the mantle. If you, and I, and Offset Warehouse can do our bit to spread the message and encourage sewers everywhere to choose sustainable fabrics, then between us all these small steps can become a stampede.
The world of ethical design can be difficult to navigate, simply because there isn’t enough joined-up information out there. Which is the reason for The Members' Club. I’ve brought together, in one place, as much useful stuff as possible to help you along the road to creating your own responsibly-sourced products. You’ll see the huge and far-reaching problems associated with unsustainable textile production, and I’ll show you how we can become part of the solution. You’ll read about, and can pick up tips from, designers and brands who are leading the way. And finally, I’ll show you how you can become an ethical designer yourself.
I have a passion. I believe that design and textile products should be beautiful and responsible from the first pencil stroke to the end of the fabric’s life. I hope this is the beginning of an incredible journey of discovery for you, and that you find a similar passion within yourself. The team and I will be in touch soon, but I’d love to hear how you're getting on, so please do get in touch.