The Sustainable Essentials: Interview with Rachel Kelly, Founder and Creative Director of Thought
What does the word essential mean to you?
So I automatically think about what it means for our customer. I think essentials need to be something you can rely on again and again, and I know when I reach for something I expect high quality, and increasingly I am looking for what credible authentication there is on that garment. So I want it to be organic cotton, or I want it to be Fairtrade, I want to make sure that there has been some real thought that has gone into that essential item to make it last a really long time.
How would you describe the sustainable essentials collection and inspiration?
I love our essentials collection because it's top to toe dressing, it’s product that we all have in our wardrobe, but the beautiful thing about our essentials is that they are highly responsible, very credible products made from gorgeous fabrications. So I think if you are going to buy a white t-shirt why not buy a GOTS Fairtrade cotton t-shirt, if you’re going to have a Breton, why not have a Fairtrade one, because there’s really no reason not to. So it’s all product that we expect to have in our wardrobes, but we have made these pieces in the most responsible way possible and that’s why I love it. We were inspired by wanting to show people that actually these small changes can be made in your wardrobe easily and they make a big difference. This can be the entry point for people to start a more sustainable way of dressing.
The collection has been described as a starter pack to sustainable living, where did your sustainability journey start and what was the first piece of sustainable clothing that you bought?
So, I probably didn’t buy it because I made it! My first product would’ve been from our business and I think it was a pair of hemp trousers, we were one of the pioneers in manufacturing hemp fabric which I’m really proud of - it’s one of our signature fabrics. I would say that my sustainability journey has been the journey that Thought has gone on - my journey with responsible manufacturing and shopping and Thought’s journey are intertwined. So in the beginning we worked with natural fibres as a blueprint for sustainability, and we worked with incredible partners in the far east who we still work with today. They are all wonderful family run businesses, who are really important to us as people and as partners. We still work with natural fibres, and now we also use other innovative low-impact fabrics.
I also think as I get older and I’ve had children, this only becomes more important. I am obviously thinking about the world that I’m going to pass on, so I am much more conscientious in my home. I think journey is a good word because it’s not going to end, we’re always learning about what we can do better.
How do you wear the sustainable essentials?
Well, I always wear Thought underwear, I love our underwear, I’m obsessed with the way that it feels. Both the recycled collection and the GOTS organic collection - ladies if you’re reading I highly recommend you try it out. I wear pieces like our Dashka slacks, our Emersons, our Breton when I’m on mum duty. When I’m not in the office and I’m busy with our three kids, in and out of the playground, in and out of the house. I’m wearing those essentials. That’s how I really know that they’re very hard working, wash really well – I wash and wear all the time!
If you had to choose one piece what would it be?
The Breton top, I love our Breton. I love the quality of the fabric - it’s amazing - the colours are great, they go with everything, I love the little fluted sleeve and I love the partner who we work with. They’re GOTS organic cotton and Fairtrade which is not easy to do! So I’m especially proud of this piece.
What do you think makes our sustainable essentials so popular?
I think it’s the fact that we don’t mess about with quality. We work with really high quality fabrications. And these pieces have been in our range for a really long time so they are absolutely tried and tested. If you looked at our black bamboo legging, we’ve sold perhaps 50,000 pieces, maybe more? So I know that they are a product that our customer is wearing again and again which gives us a load of confidence in them. And I think of course they are the perfect example of small changes that people can make in their wardrobe, regardless of your style, age, or size, we all live in these products, and choosing Thought is a small way we can make responsible clothing choices quite easily.
What are a few things you can’t live without?
Essentials in my life! I should say my husband, and I should say my children! I really love what I do, I love our business, I love my job, I love my team. I get so much energy from coming into work every day, and my work is really meaningful and important to me on a personal level, so I have this really lovely mix of my family life with my work. And then outside of that I’m a Pisces southern hemisphere girl so I have to go swimming, I have to see a beach - twice a year if possible!