"I believe it’s more a mindset than anything else; a commitment to being mindful and compassionate, and being humble enough to educate yourself constantly to make the most responsible choices."
As the world is slowly opening up and we’re socialising and travelling again, we want to spend on ourselves and our homes. But after living simpler lives during the pandemic, perhaps it’s time to take a good look at the implications of how we shop. People are more focused on buying consciously – from sustainable and fair-trade brands which promote less waste to using better materials and offering good working conditions for staff. But sometimes, spending hours researching truly authentic sustainable products can be tough. Won’t it be great to find a store that takes the hard work out of it and offers a curated selection of quality sustainable and fair-trade products that don’t break the bank?
Ferzin Patel, the founder of Canvas & Weaves, has done just that. Taking creative inspiration from music, nature and the people she works with – “rebels, revolutionaries, environmentalists” – the banker-turned-entrepreneur started her online store. It offers products from handpicked designers, brands and artists with unique craftsmanship and an underlying ethos of sustainability. We sit down with Ferzin to talk about how shopping consciously can be friendly to the planet and your wallet in the long run.
Hi Ferzin! Tell us the story behind Canvas & Weaves. What prompted you to start your own business?
It began with my own interest in making art and culture more accessible. I wanted to create a platform, a unique lifestyle concept store for the culturally curious and those who appreciate sustainably sourced one-of-a-kind handmade treasures from around the world.
From original artworks for your walls to wearable art that’s rooted in heritage with modern aesthetics, I wanted to collate a diverse selection of products for the global citizen who shops mindfully. Our fashion blends contemporary sensibilities with traditional crafts, textiles, and embroidery, while our art and homewares emphasise beauty and functionality – a homage to the good old days.
Your online store brings together different artists, fashion labels and homeware brands. How do you curate your selection?
It’s important that our partners subscribe to the same ethos of originality, quality and social values. We work with innovative makers who value people, the planet and creativity in equal measure. We believe the product isn’t necessarily the hero of the story, but the process is. We’ve showcased over 50 brands across women’s fashion and accessories. Our partners are a carefully selected mix of established and emerging makers from around the globe who echo our philosophy of sustainability and slow living.
Sustainability and fair trade are important factors at Canvas & Weaves. What does sustainability mean to you in your everyday life?
It’s more a mindset than anything else; a commitment to being mindful and compassionate, and being humble enough to educate yourself constantly to make the most responsible choices available to you. To me, it’s about being self-aware; pausing and thinking before you choose to fill a personal void with material things you may not need. Living sustainably is a philosophy. I think of it as a value system that differentiates good from bad. Just like stealing from people is immoral, exploiting a living, breathing planet of its resources is abusive.
Does “sustainable” mean more expensive? Why do we pay more for sustainable products?
The question you should be asking is: what are you paying for? Most sustainable brands can seem more “expensive” than their fast-fashion counterparts. So, where does the money go?
Sustainable brands pay for ethical production. This means fair wages to the people who produce the product, as well as high-quality or organic fabrics and materials. So, you might be paying more for a dress from a sustainable brand, but your money goes directly to helping the workers, weavers, craftspeople and farmers who have worked hard to produce the dress. It might be tempting to buy a cheap dress from a fast-fashion brand, but be aware that someone down the line is getting paid far too little for far too much work to produce it for you.
Sustainable living is based on mindful consumption. When it comes to fashion, for instance, we only need a few good staple pieces in our wardrobe to cater to most occasions. So, it’s worth investing in classic pieces that’ll never go out of style. You can occasionally pair them with trendy seasonal pieces. That way, you support ethically produced products and also minimise wardrobe waste.
Have you seen a change in consumer habits during or after the pandemic?
Prior to the pandemic, while there was a growing awareness about ethical and mindful consumption, change was slow. Big brands pushed mindless consumerism which valued quantity over quality – a Black Friday frenzy of constant sales and excessive waste.
Fortunately, during and after the pandemic, we witnessed a real shift towards consuming more mindfully and slowly. I feel people are more patient and ready to wait for a well-made product now. Pre-pandemic, people were buying fast fashion to keep up with multiple social engagements. You needed different outfits for work, for going out, and for leisure.
When socialisation reduced or stopped, people turned to online shopping and were okay to wait for “made to order” products, which is a crucial part of any sustainable business and minimises waste. Quality over quantity became the focus.
Tell us your top three fashion picks from Canvas & Weaves that reflect your style.
I cannot compromise on comfort. As I’m getting older, I’m becoming bolder about my fashion choices too.
I love our jumpsuits. They’re a great mix of laidback chic and comfort (an important factor with my constantly fluctuating body!). Jumpsuits are effortlessly cool, with plenty of room for movement if you’re on the go. A great layering piece for any weather.
You can’t go wrong with a long, flowy maxi dress, too. Dress it down with sneakers and a canvas tote or wear it with a belt and heels. It goes easily from day to night.
I’m also a fan of a good print. A lot of people are afraid of prints because they might be loud or hard to match. That’s not true at all. If you look at the beautiful pieces from JodiLife, for instance, there’s so much fun and flair in every outfit. You can wear them with anything, even flip flops, and still look fabulous.
Any suggestions on how to spruce up our tired decor at home?
- Pick pieces that speak to you: be it souvenirs from your travels, old photographs, knick-knacks you’ve collected over time or original artworks. Frame them or not, it’s up to you!
- Follow a theme: travel, family, or even a favourite colour.
- Experiment with different sizes and layouts: gather the pieces together on the floor to see how they’ll look on the wall. Make your adjustments, and when you’re ready, voila! Put in hooks or blu-tack and create your own art installation.
What tips can you offer on shopping more consciously?
Don’t let your shopping decisions be solely dictated by the price. Don’t shop casually; shop sparingly and with purpose, and make it count when you do. A considered purchase is the best route to a garment or work of art that will bring you joy and satisfaction for years to come. An impulse purchase or bargain buy often misses its mark in the long term.
Looking ahead, what are your plans for the future of Canvas & Weaves?
The evolution of Canvas & Weaves began as a leap I made into the unknown, without quite knowing where this journey would lead me. To date, we’ve now worked with over 41 independent artists, over 50 fashion brands, homeware and accessories, and I couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve accomplished.
We’re not going to slow down anytime soon! Our mission continues: to curate beautiful products that excite our customers and to support handmade over factory-made. We’ll continue to find new, exciting makers to add to our platform and to learn and grow along with our customers.
Keen to find out more and shop consciously? Check out Canvas & Weaves.