The mother and daughter duo behind Melbourne design business Honest Studios put sustainability at the heart of everything they do.
Based in Fitzroy, Tesa Gogic and her mother Sunchana Vela Gogic design and sell limited edition clothing collections using natural fibres from surplus fabrics that the pair source from high-end fashion houses.
Most recently, they have added sustainable face masks to their portfolio of designs, and joined the growing ranks of small businesses that are making sustainable face masks in light of the mandatory call for Melburnians to mask up or potentially face a $200 fine.
We spoke with Tesa Gogic about how the coronavirus pandemic has affected their retail shop, and how they came to start making and selling face masks.
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What prompted you to start Honest Studios?
It actually started out as a business concept for my final year uni project. It encompassed many different businesses but all focused around the idea of being honest, transparent and ethical.
My mum already had a fashion label of her own for years and I started my own during uni; as we both got older our styles merged more and more, which eventually lead us to combine forces!
Why did you branch out to making face masks?
We actually really didn’t plan on selling them at all! We started making a few for family and friends back in March but slowly a few customers started to place large orders so we put them online to keep track of them all.
How have you found demand for the face masks?
It started slowly but as soon as Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced face masks to be ‘recommended’ last Friday, our website has not stopped. After the weekend we had to take them down just to wrap our head around logistics of that many masks in such a short time!
Do you think that sustainability is important to your customers?
For our customers it really is. The thought of having to use disposable cups again, and then the one-time-use face masks had so many customers email or DM us to say thank you for having a sustainable option so promptly. It was then we were confident in our decision to make as many masks as we could because people really wanted a sustainable alternative.
How long into the future do you think you will be making face masks?
That’s a tough question! It really depends on how we feel whilst making them. If we hit a point where we aren’t enjoying the process at all then I think we’ll stop. It might also be a case of running out of elastic!
How has the business been affected since the pandemic started?
With the store being shut through lockdown we definitely felt the effects of no foot traffic and no tourists, which are a huge clientele for us. Initially, we were considering if we should close the store and move to have just a studio space and focus on online sales only.
However, having the support of many loyal customers, who kept making orders on our website and messaging us to see how things were going and what new styles were coming up, gave us the feeling that we might just pull through this. If anything I hope this pandemic reminds people to connect with their surroundings!
Smile at your local barista, shop from your local grocer and look to your street to find gifts! Without these businesses, we’ll become a soulless city, and that’s just not very Melbourne of us.