Over the past 12 months, our tribe has become more aware of our environmental impact. We are realising more and more that our consumer choices have devastating effects and it’s no longer good enough to buy something simply because we want it. This conscious awakening to environmental issues, is one of the major reasons I have stopped tie-dying and we are looking into alternative methods that are eco-friendly and environmentally sustainable.
The beautiful Carmen is a few steps ahead of us (and an inspiration to us) in her quest to provide eco-friendly apparel that meets an ongoing need in our warm Queensland weather. Carmen is the creator and business owner of Eco Bohemia, which produces functional and quirky hats made from up cycled materials. Carmen and I recently caught up for a chat on creating a small business around the hobbies we love, while striving to protect the environment in the process.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I live in Brisbane, (originally from Tasmania) and have had a varied life workwise as a factory labourer, library technician, swim instructor, child photographer, customer relations, telemarketer and currently working part time in Finance Administration. I wear many hats in my daily life as a parent to my georgeous 4 year old son, Taj. I’m a domestic goddess, bandaid kisser, chief house fixer, entertainment/social manager, chauffeur, just to name a few.
What inspired you to begin your own business?
I’ve always been creative, a maker. Encouraged by my parents who are both makers teaching me to sew/knit/make-do/fix from an early age growing up in rural Tasmania. I have also been inspired by creative friends and their skills with a ‘give it a go attitude’ to make and sell bucket hats at monthly markets. Sewing has been a cathartic outlet for me over the last couple of years which hasn’t required me to leave home to do something I enjoy in my free time. Eco Bohemia was borne from having a small child growing up in the harsh Queensland sun. I wanted something with a decent brim, functional, not necessarily latest fashion, sustainable and good value for money. Eco Bohemia bucket hats are for newborns-kids-adults and are washable, squashable and made from opshop finds.
How would you describe your typical day? How does it differ from how your life use to be?
Busy – like most families with a small child, mornings are dosed with a little encouragement, a little nagging and a little playtime to get out the door. Back home mid afternoon we enjoy playing, reading, chores, tea then bedtime. After 7pm my time is my own. I sew, cut patterns, read, chat to friends/family on the phone. Sewing is my hobby so I’m not impelled to be burning the midnight oil every night.
My life used to be a lot more self-centred, although I wouldn’t described myself as selfish, my time was mostly my own. Having a little person come along that you’re wholly and solely responsible for can be overwhelming at times. Especially when you throw hormones, lack of sleep and illness into the mix! It’s certainly getting easier as I become more confident in my parenting skills and the life I’m creating for my child.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far on your journey?
Everyone has a different journey to travel. You can’t take it for them and you should always try to take the high road.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received is actually lyrics from a Rolling Stones song, ‘You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well you just might find you get what you need.’ Holding on might be what we want, but once it’s let go sometimes there’s realisation it’s not what we need/ed. This can relate to so many things in life, relationships/friends/material possessions. I’ve been trying to declutter for a while now and keeping this in mind, I’m conscious of the impact of materialism on the environment and perceived life status.
How important is your tribe in being able to achieve your goals and dreams?
My tribe consists of family, inlaws, friends and mentors. I need them to support me without judgement by listening, commiserating, laughing, consoling, entertaining, feeding, babysitting, loving, uplifting, encouraging my son and I as we traverse unknown territory through this life.
Thanks Carmen for sharing your journey into sustainable apparel! You can find Carmen regularly at the markets, head to Eco Bohemia to find out more.