Behind the Seams with… Amelia Musselman

Welcome to Behind the Seams, where we chat with FTA designers to learn more about their business and views of sustainability.

Meet Amelia Musselman, the designer behind Elladora.

FTA: What inspired you to start your line?

Amelia: I was inspired to create sustainable fashions in two ways while I was attending OCAD. First, we were always making little art and craft projects using new materials, and then once our projects were finished, I noticed most students were just tossing their projects away. It felt wasteful. Second, when I took a fabric dye class I fell in love with natural dyes, which led me to experiment with flowers and fruits to dye natural fabrics. Once I graduated, I then decided to begin using plastic bags to create totes and handbags, which led to my research into the effects of plastics. This helped me learn about synthetic fabrics vs. organic and sustainable.

FTA: How do you incorporate sustainability into your business?

Amelia: I incorporate sustainability into my business by choosing fabrics that are certified organic, natural, sustainable or recycled. I try to create as many of my works as I can by hand, but when orders are too large, I employ local sewers and print makers.

I never buy clothing hangers and always reuse them. I also always receive buttons, threads and other notions from ex-sewers, which I reuse. I create accessories and plant hangers using recycled plastic bags. What I hope for the future is to create more natural hand dyed pieces.

FTA: What are some of the challenges you face as a business owner who is passionate about sustainability?

Amelia: As a small sustainable fashion line, I have trouble sourcing interesting fabrics while keeping my costs low in order to stay in my price point. I am very interested in making vintage inspired bathing suits and would love to use PET fabrics made from plastic bottles. This type of fabric can only be ordered in very large quantities. Since I am still small, I have had to source other less suitable fabrics.

FTA: What has been your biggest success thus far?

Amelia: I have two things I would consider successes. First, that I have kept my business running in some form despite the birth of my two children in three years.

Second, when Elladora’s bathing suits were featured in NOW magazine two years in a row.

FTA: What is your favourite sustainable clothing piece?

Amelia: From Fall/Winter 2009, my Narnia/Victorian inspired line. This teal and light blue dress titled Goodbye to Shadow Lands was conceived to transition you from winter to spring.

The light and airy fabric gets you ready for warm weather, but the pleating adds weight and warmth. The soy and organic cotton jersey makes it feel like a t-shirt while looking fancy and whimsical with the added acorn charm.

Elladora is available on Sustainable Style here.