Single Mother Walking the Talk – Fashion

10th November 2014 by

This weekend, I watched a show called Extreme Cheapskates, for the first time, which led me to SuperScrimpers – and, do you know what I learnt?

I learnt that being conscious of our environment and saving money goes hand-in-hand. HURRAH! Now, this might already be incredibly obvious to you but as one of the newer members of the Otesha team, this was a revelation!

I always assumed that buying organic seasonal food was more expensive than shopping in a supermarket, that wearing vintage was only for trendsetters with money to burn and keeping my two children amused appropriately every weekend and school holiday was neigh on impossible without spending loads of money.

Absolutely great news for a single mother learning to walk the talk!

So walk beside me as I learn and change my family’s life, one step at a time.

My first subject (and huge passion): Fashion.


Shopping in your friend’s closets.

I’m massively lucky because my closest friends are all relatively the same size as me. When they are clearing their closets I make sure I’m sitting in the front row! I even offer to take their old stuff to the charity shop as a thank you – check me out!

When I have a special event such as a birthday meal or party, I beg and borrow clothes, bags, jewellery and shoes – that way my wardrobe has an amazing ‘rotation’ of dresses that never seem to be worn twice! Happy days.


Charity shops.

I love looking through the rails of a good charity shop. The sales assistants are always so friendly, you can always find amazing vintage and retro and as we all know, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure! And it’s cheap and cheerful and the money goes to a great cause!

Great for good quality bags, amazing chunky knit jumpers and vintage scarves.


Carboot sales.

Amazing for buying AND selling! A great day out for you and the family and you can haggle – super fun! I would recommend Capital Carboot in Pimlico on a Sunday.

A couple of weeks ago I got a pair of purple thigh high suede boots for a FIVER. Hardly worn, high quality and probably about £100 first hand in the shops. Not everyone’s cup of tea, sure – but hella 1970’s and beautiful for me!


Until next time!

Love, luck and light.


Reduce, reuse, recycle… up-cycle!

8th December 2011 by

Guest blogger and friend of Otesha Alice Nicol gets us up to speed on the world of up-cycling, and argues that designers and businesses must put reduction of resource use at the heart of their work

In a world where we are continually putting strain on our resources, I have come to question what my role and impact is as a designer. For me, this means taking a holistic view and acknowledging the social and environmental impacts my choice of fabric has on the world. Which fibre did it start off as? Does it have longevity? Where will it end up?

One place to start is by working with what we already have, as using a material that already exists is more sustainable and environmentally friendly than buying new. Our stage of mass consumerism and fast fashion provides a mountain of perfectly usable cast-offs, for example… I am hinting at ‘Up-cycling.’

So what is up-cycling? In a nutshell, up-cycling means using materials with a low value to create a new product with a higher value. Essentially giving something old a new lease of life.

My up-cycling venture began whilst in my final year of printed textiles at the Glasgow School of Art. I wanted to print onto knitwear, yet knitting my own pieces (even from lovely chunky hemp/wool blends) was too timely and buying too costly. What could be used that, in both senses, didn’t cost the earth? My resolution to this conundrum was to venture into a charity shop, where suddenly I found many sizable pieces of knitwear for bargain prices. At the same time buying from charity shops means re-using a product, reducing shipping to external markets and supporting many a just cause through the likes of the Red Cross, Barnardo’s, Oxfam and Shelter, so much more than just bargain knitwear…

A few samples of printing onto re-claimed knit

But the material is only one part of textile design. My design work has been inspired by the bicycle ever since I wandered into the Glasgow Transport Museum and set eyes on the most beautiful penny-farthing I’d ever seen. Whilst I was influenced by the aesthetic design of bicycles (in all shapes and sizes), they also go hand in hand with reducing negative impacts on the environment. Bicycles have negligible carbon emissions, use few materials and resources and make us all that much fitter and healthier! (Though perhaps not all of us will ride a penny-farthing to work!)

Digitally printed silk handkerchiefs

But back to the knitwear… after using jumpers as material for my designs I began to think of other creative ways to use them. This started an enterprise of making hot water bottle covers from the sleeves and cushion covers from the main body. I also became curious about other designers in the world of up-cycling. This led me to discover Goodone, a company which I have been working for this year.

Goodone was established by Nin Castle in 2006 and has appeared at London Fashion Week for the past 6 seasons. Nin has recognized the need to address the environmental impact of the fashion industry and developed a method that is informed by the use of recycled fabrics, but not restrained by it.

The majority of materials are sourced from a textile-recycling unit in East London. Many of the garments are 100% recycled materials, others are mixed with faulty or end of the line fabrics. All garments are made to order in the studio in North London, with a bespoke option, so that only the fabric needed is used.

Despite already using end of the line materials Goodone has even gone a step further, or several leaps, when thinking about its own post production waste. Jerseys/T-shirts are used as cleaning rags, a children’s toy project is on the go and all those jumper sleeves… you guessed it, hot water bottle covers!

Hot water bottle covers made from Aran jumpers

These are inspiring examples of how the role of a designer can help make a more positive impact on our planet: up-cycling; made-to-measure; managing post production waste. Clare Farrell’s article, ‘Peak Fibre?’, on the goodone blog, highlights the necessity of such business models.

Should you wish to discuss your own ideas of up-cycling (or just come for a chat and see what we do!) there are a few events on about town that you can visit:


4th February 2011 by

Click for the full size image. More cartoons here.


8th June 2010 by

It’s almost cycle tour time again. So we thought we’d share some Oteshenanigans. This short film was made by Cress and Frankie from last year’s East Coast Tour.

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