Get to know Zahira Nauthoa the 22-year old owner of the earthy handmade and handstitched clothing line, Responsibly Sourced.
I first came across Responsibly Sourced when I was having a wander around the University of Essex Thursday Market. I saw a beautiful white oversized jumper with an embroidered picture of Frida Kahlo hanging from a marquee and I thought, I need this.
So I bought it… but here’s what I learned about Zahira and her operation.
“Age ain’t nothing but a number”
At just 22 years old, she has not only built her business from the ground up, but she trusted her vision and passion. Too often many of us are told as teenagers, “That’s just a hobby,” But not, Zahira, she had passion, vision, a plan and she breathed life into it.
Zahira Nauthoa, grew up in Colchester envisioning the day that she would start her own business. Since the age of sixteen Zah worked to master her craft by completing courses in design, fashion and business to equip her with the skills needed to run her business. But she didn’t want to just start a generic clothing brand. She wanted her brand to stand out and not just in the way they look, she wanted her pieces to stand out in the way they were made.
With the help of her father and brother, she decided to source her garments from Mauritius and India. She explained to me that her father and her brother were extremely important influences in the building of her business. Every time I saw her at her market stall, her dad was there supporting her, making sure everything was okay.
Practice what you preach
Keeping in the ethics of her business, Zahira created the banner for her business by painting it onto a canvas, she issues her customers branded recyclable bags, she uses recycled mannequins that she re-stitched and what I found most interesting, the fabrics she uses has been recycled and reworked from older garments.
For The Record:
How would you describe the style of clothing that you sell?
“The clothes I sell are unique, stylish and practical. A lot of the garments made are one-offs but they’re practical because the two pieces I make can be worn to many occasions; dressed up with heels or dressed down, worn on a day to day basis along with the embroidered tees and jumpers.”
What inspires you, what are you passionate about?
“It’s the reaction I get from people who appreciate what I am doing and how much interest they give. It motivates me to continue to make and embroider clothes and to expand my business and merchandise.”
What was the biggest obstacle you faced when starting your own business?
“Self-confidence and the fear of failure was definitely the biggest issue I had when I first started out. But as time has gone on, I have realised that you may have to fail to achieve. I also had my brother who was a big motivator in this which helped build my confidence.”
What do you want people to know about your business?
Responsibly Sourced garments are handmade or embroidered by hand. The fabrics have been sourced from different countries or reworked/up-cycled from old garments or fabric. A lot of time goes into designing and creating garments, more time designing on the embroidery software. I would like people to know that I put a lot of effort into my designs to make sure customers are satisfied.
Lessons from Zahira: Ethics over profit
So many people tell us that you have to cut corners in order to make a profit. How many lives have been lost because of this approach to business? Grenfell Tower in London, the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh. Both unfortunate and fatal scenarios came as a result of business owners and stakeholders valuing profit over ethics.
Zahira, at such a young age, understands that massive profit margins are not worth the lives of people and animals that occupy this planet.
In such a short period of time, she has accomplished so much. She has stayed true to her values and operates her business uncompromised by popular practices.
If you want to see more of Zahira’s work check her out at the University of Essex Thursday Market from 9am-3pm or on her social media: