First Base’s founder on ethics and sustainable home hacks
How a staff getaway to Byron Bay completely changed the direction of ethical activewear brand First Base
Born from a desire to be connected to her designs, founder and designer Alison Cotton launched lifestyle brand First Base in 2013, with the vision of creating simple basics that she could wear everyday.
However, two years after its inception during a staff getaway in Byron Bay there was a lightbulb moment for the First Base family and a focus on ethical, sustainable production quickly transpired. “It wasn’t my vision from the beginning. I took my staff to Byron for our staff Christmas party and we were discussing our desires for the direction of the brand. It evolved into a discussion about what was important to us and the standout theme was the environment, Alison says.
“Which posed the question, ‘what were we doing about it?’. It was those few days that kicked off a movement for us. We all agreed we wanted to move the brand towards being a sustainable, ethically produced fashion label.”
So what happened next?
We went from not knowing about our factories in China, to ensuring every factory we use is WRAP (worldwide responsible accredited production) certified. All of the standards you and I would expect to be met are met. The factories we work with have been audited by an independent body.
What practices do you have in place now?
It’s a work in progress, we are continually solving the problem of making our business more sustainable. All our garments come in biodegradable bags which only take three years to break down and don’t leave any harmful chemicals in the environment. All our packaging is made from 100 percent recycled paper, even the string in the swing tag is recycled. We use 100 percent organic cotton for all our basics, recycled nylon in our activewear and are now going through process of developing an organic cotton fleecy fabric.
Do you have any sustainable home hacks?
I’ve been banging onto my husband about wanting a composter for a year now! We have changed to eco-friendly cleaning products. I have overall become more conscious about how much I am wasting. I am conscious about using the produce we have. I am a vegetarian, partly for ethical reasons and partly for health reasons. But I still wear leather. I think you have to be real about your choices!
How do you navigate the stress that comes with having your own label?
I married a yoga teacher! I try not to hang on to my stress too much. Andrew, my husband, is so supportive and thoughtful. He has taught me the importance of switching off and recharging. Now I have one whole day off a weekend and we always have a cut off time at night. It means I now have more energy during the week.
How did you guys meet?
He was my yoga teacher! I wore these white pants to class one day and I ignored him, and continued to turn up to class in cute outfits and kept ignoring him. He got my email and invited me to a party. We exchanged numbers and caught up for a drink and then it was all on. We have been inseparable since. We were engaged by September of that year and married in February!
What are your favourite products at the moment?
Evo Normal Persons Shampoo and Conditioner, salt water in a spray bottle for my beach curls and Pure Hair Food Smoothing Serum. For face it’s Go-To Face Hero and Tatcha Water Cream and Palmers Coconut Oil for my body. I love, Dr Hauschka Tinted Moisturiser, RMS Lip2Cheek, Bare Minerals concealer and bronzer, and ClinqueFIT Workout mascara.