A Conscious Conversation with Victoria Jones
We are so excited to be stocking a capsule collection of SAYA Design hair accessories, handcrafted hair stick, hair slides and hair forks. To coincide with the launch we caught up with founder and designer of the brand Victoria Jones to talk all things eco-friendly and how the brand was born and has grown.
Tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are now?
My background is in arts and design, I went to art school in London 10 years ago and was always fascinated by craft and artisanal objects. I worked at an auction house for a few years learning about valuing objects and seeing the cultural history associated with its province. I loved that everything told a story and that is what taught me about the importance of the story in why we value things.
I have been working on S A Y A for nearly four years, It has been hard setting up a brand with a green and environmental approach as it's very much about learning and creating your own path. Most options towards conventional businesses you do not want to take. The rise in education towards the environment since I have started S A Y A has been really encouraging, despite the urgency to act that is also on the rise. It’s all more important than ever.
What was the inspiration behind S A Y A Design?
S A Y A was a way for me to explore environmentalism and create excitement and awareness around the issues I believe in. I wanted to invite others to deepen their understanding of environmental and wildlife conservation issues, and get involved in their protection. I wanted to start a business rather than a charity as I thought I could keep generating money more directly this way and put it towards these NGO's I had come to admire so much. Creating beautiful objects with a storey to tell was the best way I felt I could contribute.
Why is it important to you to work responsibly and produce handmade pieces in Bali?
Being responsible and working responsibly is about your ethics and mine are high so I wanted to work out a way that made sense to me. I learnt that often artisans or artisan communities cannot afford to pay for well known International certifications and so many of these people in developing countries struggle to work, have security and are in danger of losing their cultural traditions such as 'wood working'.
We use wood wastage left over from the timber industry and feel we are going above current standards and certifications with our high ratio of tree planting. We work with skilled family artisans all of whom I know and have had a range of jobs in helping start S A Y A from branding, to photography, project managing and production. Seeing this unfold taught me a lot about the importance of grassroots working and skill building.
Are there difficulties in being an ethical and sustainable brand in today’s society - if so, how have you overcome them?
There have been and still are many to come I am sure. The new network that is arising from this wave of awareness into the need to work more sustainably has helped create a space for a lot of third party brands who are ready to help small brands like mine find their feet and also help large brands to redesign their business. They did not really exist four years ago, now it feels there is a network and larger community to point you in the right direction for you.
I have overcome some of my obstacles by pushing that but further for answers until I felt more confident. Also reminding myself along the way that I can't be 100% perfect and that there is no such thing as 100% sustainable in our current landscape. It is just about finding balance, being truthful and striving always for better.
Can you offer any advice to aspiring designers/entrepreneurs?
Honest progress over perfection!
What are you currently reading?
Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés.
What's your star sign/zodiac symbol? - Would you say your personality is typical to that sign?
Sagittarius. Traits I see in myself are a good sense of humour, being passionate, motivated, honest and making connections between people and place. I definitely protect my freedom and don't like being too pinned down.
This or that? – Sustainably handmade or 2nd hand for your own wardrobe?
I love treating myself to a few other ethical brands I admire when I can, but vintage and second hand over the years has always been my thing!
What are your top 3 ethical/independent brands and why?
Know The Origin - I have worked with them over the years and know they go above and beyond most business to strive for better, so I look up to them very much for that.
M A K A L - Ethical gold jewellery working against illegal mining.
Organic Basics - Simple and good quality.
Can you offer 3 thoughts for consumers to consider before making the choice between shopping sustainable or fast fashion?
Treasure what you have and know that you personally have done something good in supporting a small brand and a bigger story. We need to redesign our economy and environments and have to start with ourselves and our choices. Everything we buy makes a statement.
We hope you enjoyed this conscious moment with Victoria, and we hope you love these incredible wooden hair accessories, available on our site here.