Hi I am Sandy, the creator and manager of ReFAB Circular Fashion, a rent-a-rack shop on the sunny side of Semaphore Road. ReFAB has been born out of a long term love of clothes. I value wearable items like clothes, shoes and bags and wish for their life to be extended. With being on both sides of the sewing machine as a designer and costumier, I appreciate the expertise, skills and resources required to create these items.
In fact, in my past I valued my items so much I just keep hanging on to them, thinking they were too good to donate and not really understanding that clothes become outdated and devalue with each passing season.
// What were you doing prior to your business and why did you get started
Prior to ReFAB I worked in fashion, design and production teams for theatre, film and T.V. More recently I worked in education firstly as a senior high school home economics teacher and then as a lecturer at UNISA. Here I was teaching about sustainability issues within the textile industry ranging from the resources used and unethical manufacturing issues to fast fashion and landfill overload.
As reported by Ecowatch: “Fashion is a complicated business involving long and varied supply chains of production, raw material, textile manufacture, clothing construction, shipping, retail, use and ultimately disposal of the garment. We know is that fashion is the second largest polluter and the fashion carbon footprint is tremendous…
With this contemporary understanding of the many issues in textiles and the need for action I literally talked myself into creating a shop where my local community can circulate the clothes that they have been hanging on to. Again thinking they are too good to donate and perhaps not realising that clothes do devalue with time.
So ReFAB opened in September 2021. ReFAB’s mission statement is to assist you in liberating your wardrobe, circulating your clothes, & lessening your load, all the while supporting your ever evolving identity. ReFAB is a rack rental for anyone who has invested in their clothes and feels their clothes are worthy of being re-loved.
// Why did you decide to go into business?
Although fashion trained, even back in the early 90’s I knew I did not agree with the ever changing nature of fashion creating seasonal obsolescence. So I began working in the arts, making costumes for theatre, film and TV. This included Adelaide Festival Theatre, Centre of Performing Arts and Australian Dance Theatre. I was even wardrobe supervisor on ‘McLeod’s Daughter’s’ in the second series. My experiences are based on character profiling and dressing. The understanding of the importance of how we dress (ourselves, characters, rooms, sets etc.) in telling the world our story.
ReFAB is not just about helping people make room and make money from clothes they no longer want by renting a rack. ReFAB is about helping people feel good about themselves. Understanding that our clothes tell our story, and our identities are continually evolving as we evolve. It is not necessary to feel guilty about wanting to update, just be thoughtful about what you buy and why you are buying it. Be conscious about what you do with the clothes that you no longer want and minimise their environmental impact by ensuring they receive a second life through recycling and reusing or donating. By purchasing clothes from ReFAB you can help recycle other peoples clothes at a fraction of the cost.
// What do you love most about being in business?
I love having time to discuss the notion of circular fashion to anyone who ask. While sustainability is everywhere in the Australian curriculum and has been for a number of years, there are generations long before who do not grasp the circular economy or business model. This business provides me the opportunity to introduce the concept of a circular economy and applying this to fashion and the circulation of clothing.
Finally I have also discovered that one of my biggest pleasure is to make people smile. I have created a welcoming space to assist people in reducing their load and where I can offer assistance or advice to find that perfect item that a person is looking for.
// What do you love most about working for yourself?
In the past I have worked in many areas including an education setting both at higher education and senior school as a textile and food specialist. Both settings require a great deal of on the spot problem solving particular in practical situations. Problem solving is just as important and this time I am the beneficiary of this problem solving as the business progresses.
// What advice would you give other women wanting to start a business?
Life is too short! Have a clear vision and go for it! Just like all of us, a business is a work in progress and will grow to accommodate vision.
Get in touch with Sandy:
Facebook: ReFAB Circular Fashion
LinkedIn: Sandy Donlan