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Erin Pugh: the fashion designer who's putting an end to workplace bullying

Erin Pugh is the founder of Orles, a fashion accessory label based in Melbourne. We caught up with Erin to talk all things sustainable fashion and why she's donating $1 of every sale to end workplace bullying...

1. You’re the founder and creative director of Orles, an accessories label focussing on sustainable wicker bags. Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind the label?

I’m so so lucky to have been surrounded by inspirational, stylish women my entire life. These women are my inspiration! My grandma, my mum, my friends, mentors in business and even women who I don’t know personally but I admire from afar, all of these women inspire me daily and are the reason I wanted to start the label. I feel really honoured to be able to design accessories that are worn by such amazing ladies. I’m also really inspired by how the right accessory can completely transform the mood of an outfit.

2. Where does your passion for sustainable fashion come from?

wicker bags

In a world where we are more connected through technology than ever before, it’s so easy to get carried away with online shopping and fast fashion. We all want instant gratification and that’s evident in the 15% YOY growth of Australian online shopping. This results in Australians consuming too much fashion and sadly most of it ends up in landfill. I’ve wanted to design fashion for as long as I can remember but I’m very conscious not to be adding to our global environmental issues - and that’s where my passion comes from. 

Orles basket bags are created using 100% sustainable wicker and in our production process, no machinery is used therefore our footprint is very small. Also, we don’t produce in bulk meaning that there isn’t any wastage. An Orles basket bag is one that will stand the test of time, season after season. 

3. Apart from your own (obviously!) what are some of your favourite sustainable fashion labels?

Velvet Canyon, Lu Goldie, Rowie, Bassike, Spell, there are sooo many!!

4. You’re donating $1 of every sale to anti-bullying charity, Yes Queen. Can you tell us why this is a cause close to your heart?

I was bullied in the workplace and it was a really tough time for me, so I take comfort in the fact that I’m contributing to the amazing and frankly necessary work that Yes Queen do to help end it.

It blows my mind to know that in some workplaces kindness or even overt happiness is viewed as a weakness. Studies show that workplaces that are inclusive are 6 times as likely to exceed business goals - so there’s power in kindness and I’ll do anything I can to support that. 

5. What would your advice be to women who may be experiencing bullying in the workplace?

You are not alone and none of what you are experiencing is your fault, nor do you deserve it. Reach out to your friends, family and peers to talk about what you’re going through and how it makes you feel. You don’t have to go through this alone. Make a plan to improve your situation and activate it, you deserve respect, happiness and success!

6. Finally, looking into the future, what are your dreams for Orles?

As a new label I’ve got so many dream for where Orles can go. Sky’s the limit! 


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