Meet A Woven Plane founders Rachael and Sarah
“We met the business owner, an 80-odd year old man and his son. We met the team and saw their working conditions and environment. Our agent had not experienced this in the 30 years he had been in business – everyone else had ordered simply off samples.”
We came across A Woven Plane at the Antibad launch event last summer. We got chatting to co-founder Rachael about how she and Sarah got started, how A Woven Plane champions and empowers women, and why their socks are more than just your average pair. And, we wanted to share their story with you.
Tell us about A Woven Plane for those who don’t know you…
A Woven Plane makes good quality socks for women. It is co-founded by two women who couldn’t find socks, Sarah and Rachael.
Where did the idea for A Woven Plane come from?
We both independently could not find what we were looking for on the womenswear market and had opted for men’s socks. We found women’s socks to be poor in comparison on many fronts: sock construction and design, material choices and colour options. We wear socks so close to our skin and felt that they should be made from good, beautiful materials. Comfortable feet really do empower you in your day: they deserve our attention. We believed other women probably felt the same, and so we created A Woven Plane.
We just couldn’t get our heads around the notion that it was okay to wear rubbish quality products on your feet. Sarah had studied sportswear design and Rachael grew up around textiles, so the thought of researching yarns and sheep was wonderful! Then add in the fact that we could use that information to create a product that had the possibility of empowering women, especially in the workplace, meant we knew it was something we wanted to do. We want to push the process of re-imagining what a smart, professional woman looks like. I, (Rachael) didn’t enjoy wearing heels and wore them most days in my previous role as a Barrister, so wanted to supply socks that women could wear with flat brogues. We felt that good socks can finish off an outfit, much like they do for men.
Why is being ethical important to you?
To us it was just common sense to treat the world and everyone in it with respect and care. This is more important to us than a business built on growth and profit. At each point in the business we ask ourselves questions like, how can we do this better? We also believe in the power of empowering women to combat climate change: listen to the podcast ‘Mothers of Invention’. It’s great.
What steps have you made to ensure your brand is ethical?
We have made many, many small and large decisions along the way that we feel makes us ‘ethical’. To begin with, we visited our supplier in Italy before we placed an order. We met the business owner, an 80-odd year old man and his son. We met the team and saw their working conditions and environment. Our agent had not experienced this in the 30 years he had been in business – everyone else had ordered simply from samples. We use Oeko-Tex Standard 100 yarn, which means our socks are free from harmful substances. Our manufacturer and yarn supplier both have a progressive attitude towards sustainable solutions, which is incredible. We also wanted to have a small range: we believe in our four colours and do not plan to make them obsolete with new seasons. When there are 50 colours or options, they can lose value. Our packaging was the biggest challenge but then we found G. F. Smith’s Extract Paper range, which is made from recycled paper cups.
What’s been the toughest part of starting and running an ethical brand? Any advice for someone looking to start their own?
The toughest thing is that you pay more for ethical materials and products that are made in a better way, but if this is factored in from the beginning then you can build a brand that takes this into account. You then have a brand that you can be proud of and a brand that helps to implement change. When you do this from the beginning, you are in a better place than any of the bigger companies that run on an old model of waste and sales. It is harder for them to transform as people are starting to ask more questions and be more aware.
Our advice would be: do it, do it, do it! It’s an exciting time. We all need to figure out how to do things differently and the more small brands with good values that there is around, the better.
What does the future hold for A Woven Plane?
Growing slowly and organically is important to us. We are in this for the long haul. We plan to release another colour this A/W in our merino wool blend sock. With a small collection we hope to emphasise that fashion does not need to be ‘fast’ or and there does not need to be hundreds and hundreds of options, just a few good ones that we believe in. Working with interesting women in business, art and design and learning more about our industry is always on the agenda, as well as continuing to support the slow fashion movement and smaller independent retailers. Mostly though, we hope to reach the women who need good socks!