Angie and Rebecca – founders of Rana Clothing

Rana Clothing was born out of a desire to change the fashion industry and show that fashion can still be successful when it looks after people and the planet. Rana is an online ethical fashion store with the core values of transparency, sustainability, quality, empowerment and poverty reduction, Rana aims to bring the largest range of fair trade clothing in Australia at affordable prices, attractive styles and fast delivery. With it’s current focus on corporate and casual wear, Rana’s mission is to challenge the status quo.

We spend hours bouncing ideas off each other, then we just sit down and get it done. It helps that we hold each other accountable so we are constantly moving forward quickly.

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Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?

After watching a documentary on the Rana Plaza collapse on April 24th 2013, where over 1100 people were killed and 2500 injured, we were appalled by the conditions that many garment workers are forced to work in to support the fast-fashion industry. Upon searching for corporate clothes that we could be sure were made ethically, we found that most clothing brands have little or no information about their manufacturing conditions and processes. So, we decided we would create a one-stop shop for fashionable clothes with transparent supply chains, focussing on ethical and sustainable manufacturing.

Please explain your business model

Rana Clothing is an online retailer of ethical clothing. We purchase clothes wholesale, then sell them through our online store. This means we can offer our customers fast delivery times, a consistent returns policy, and a good variety of fair trade clothes.

How do you make ideas happen?

We spend hours bouncing ideas off each other, then we just sit down and get it done. It helps that we hold each other accountable so we are constantly moving forward quickly. We also make sure we’re having fun and learning new things all the time, so we don’t get burnt out.

What does your typical day look like?

We meet at our lovely little office at 9:30am, with fresh flowers and a nice big jug of water to make sure we are refreshed during the day. At the moment we have two amazing marketing interns who are working hard on our crowdfunding campaign and our marketing plan. The morning consists of reviewing where we’re at, planning out the day and sharing any ideas we’ve had, articles we’ve read, or people we’ve spoken with about Rana. Throughout the day we chat and keep up with what we are each working on, discussing specific questions any of us might have. We work closely with each other and there is a lot of support.

Rana_workspace

What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?

One of the hardest parts for Angie has been believing that she could actually make this happen! Coming from a fashion design background with hardly any experience in business, finance, marketing, or any of the really important behind the scenes stuff, meant that she’s had to overcome many insecurities about her own ability to make this work. Working with a great team has really helped her with this challenge.

Rebecca still feels like she’s falling off the edge of a cliff because she has an engineering and business background but is quite clueless about clothes! She has no idea how to describe all the details on an item of clothing and is only just getting the hang of simple things like the different types of pleats that exist. Starting a business in Australia is getting easier and Rebecca credits much of her decision to take the leap and proceed with the business idea to the relatively new non-profits Profectus and Spacecubed who have provided her with lots opportunities to talk to other entrepreneurs and understand what it’s all about.

What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?

If you’re starting a social enterprise, always focus on what the customer receives, and always keep your message positive. Although education and awareness are integral to communicating the value of your product, try to keep it as light as you can without bending the facts. Sometimes it’s a balancing act between gaining more customers to extend the great work you can do, and turning people off your service or product because of “compassion fatigue”.

What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry at the moment?

In Australia:

BiBi Fair Trade in Fremantle is a gorgeous local concept store that stocks both vintage and fair trade fashion, jewellery and accessories. They also host great workshops to teach customers how to make their own treasures. Everyone at BiBi is so passionate about spreading fair trade awareness.

Internationally:

Shop Helpsy is a US based online ethical fashion store that supplies cutting edge fashion items that have a positive social impact. Helpsy’s aim is to overcome the misconception that ethical fashion sacrifices visual appeal, which is another myth Rana also hopes to crack.

ShopEthica is another US based online store with similar goals to Rana Clothing.

What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?

Rana Clothing is hoping to change the fashion industry by providing competition that will increase pressure on other clothing companies in Australia to improve transparency in their supply chains, and reduce irresponsible corporate behaviour that consumers are not made aware of. The best way to change the way the industry works is to provide an ethical alternative that is still commercially viable, and competes with the popular, “unethical” fashion brands that exist today.

We believe that proving consumers want the option to make responsible purchasing decisions will be a game changer in the fast-fashion industry.

Speaking of affecting social change, is there a particular charity you’d like our readers to support?

Ready to Work – they help women gain and maintain meaningful employment. A large part of their work is dressing women in donated corporate wear for interviews and jobs.

Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers.

http://www.ethical.org.au/the-guide/

http://www.sustainablefashion.com.au/pages/about-us

http://www.bcorporation.net/community/find-a-b-corp

Name 3 Australians we should follow on Twitter.

@FergusonNews

@ethicalshopper

@olliemilman

Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?

We’d love people to support us on Innovation Nation. By justing hitting the ‘Like’ button, Rana clothing could be on its way to winning a spot in the accelerator program, and there is $10,000 of seed funding to be won!

What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?

The Moon Cafe in Northbridge!

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