Charlie Ross is director of Offset Warehouse, the first ethical, fashion and interiors business of its kind.Having graduated with a Masters in Menswear design from the RCA Charlie has always featured ethics in his design work. He has lived lived in Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan and has an extensive knowledge of Asia drives his desire to make sourcing ethically from these countries easier.
Through Offset Warehouse, he solved the problem of sourcing small quantities of sustainable fabrics and the problem of finding all the manufacturers and services needed to create ethical fashion and interiors.
"Offset Warehouse is a social enterprise and the first UK online retailer to bring together all the elements needed to create ethical clothing and interiors. Offset Warehouse provides all the information and products you need to be ethical in the world of fashion and design."- Offset Warehouse.com
What do you do?
I founded and run “OffsetWarehouse.com" - an online store and resource for those who want to be ethical in fashion or interiors.
What is the best part of your job?
I love getting to know new suppliers, particularly those from marginalised communities. Finding them and building a working relationship can be a very difficult and time consuming process, but giving them access to mainstream markets for their products and the chance to stabilize and increase the revenue for their local communities is wonderful - everyone likes to feel like they’re helping a bigger cause, but being able to do it on an everyday is rewarding.
I also really enjoy building relationships with customers. People have reacted very positively to the launch of Offset Warehouse. The variety of people we’ve connected with is amazing, and hearing that what we’re doing is actually helping them or their businesses, makes all the hard work worthwhile.
Finally, I started this business based on my own experience and frustrations with the fashion industry. I believed it was possible to be leading edge fashion and ethical too. But it was really hard to find the fabrics and services I needed. So, if I have changed that to any degree, well, then I am happy.
What is your greatest achievement to date?
Being nominated for both the Observer Ethical Awards and the Fashioning The Future Awards within our first year of launching has been phenomenal! I see it as proof that people really do support ethical fashion and that Offset Warehouse is a needed resource within the industry.
What has been your greatest challenge/how have you overcome this challenge?
Having to learn to run a business from scratch with limited resources has certainly been a challenge. I’ve had to become a sort of “jack of all trades” (which I never thought I’d be!) – from branding the business, to marketing, to the legal side of writing all our contracts, to accounting, to web development! It’s been a lot of hard work, but persistence and determination (and a lot of tea) made it all possible.
What advise do you have for emerging ethical brands?
Being ethical within your work should be integral, not dictatorial. Ethics is, of course, important, but design should always come first. There’s no business sense in launching a label that no one buys.
Being ethical in fashion, particularly for smaller designers, is not easy and no one can be 100% ethical. The important thing is that you are at least thinking about it and doing what you can, where appropriate. In fact, one of the aims of Offset Warehouse, is to make this all a little easier. We currently present the biggest range of ethical fabrics that customers can buy in retail quantities, as well as wholesale amounts for a cheaper price – this has been a huge lifesaver for designers! We’re also constantly adding new members to our Ethical Directory, of businesses and services with ethical accreditations, such as manufacturers and digital printers, can be listed. This is making sourcing the raw materials and services that designers need to create entirely ethical ranges, much less time consuming.
What do you hope to get out of being part of the Ethical Fashion Network?
I use the Ethical Fashion Network to keep informed of the events going on in the ethical fashion industry. It’s also a great way to meet, be a part of and keep connected with a group of like-minded people who are as passionate about promoting ethical fashion as I am.
To connect with Charlie click here
To visit Offset Warehouse click here
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