After staging an exhibition in The Workstation, we caught up for a chat with Olusola McKenzie, Creative Director of Learn to Re-create to talk about eco-fashion, and creating opportunities for all in the fashion industry.
Learn to Re-create begin?
I founded Learn to Re-create
out of a desire to provide a bridge for individuals who wanted to work in the
Fashion or Textiles Industry but lacked the required skills. Additionally, it
was important to offer a support mechanism to Fashion and/or Textiles graduates
and professionals to gain relevant business skills to enable them to run
successful businesses as this support was not readily available for those with
Furthermore, creating a
platform to stop the talent drain we were experiencing in the industry and
contributing to the percentage of UK production of own label was always part of
the agenda when I decided to start Learn to Re-create.
Today, I am pleased to see how
the business has evolved as it continues to improve and we are still true to
our core values.
Learn to Re-create is all about Upcycling, Ecological fashion, collective working and empowering
people. What are the main challenges that you face as an ethical business and
Research and development
resources remain our biggest challenge i.e. the finances to grow, to launch new
products and services whilst still staying true to our initial aim.
We have chosen to keep true to
our values and our aims and I believe this has paid off although it was a
challenge in the early days when there were suggestions to change or give-up.
There will always be a period where every business whether it’s a
social/ethical or non-ethical business needs to prove itself and we’ve had to
go through this too.
Tell us about some
of the success stories that Learn to Re-create has been involved with?
The business has won 2
business competitions which gave out grants. We have also been fortunate to
receive product sponsorship from Brother UK and Aurifil, Italy.
What inspired the current (most recent)
The most recent exhibition was a
showcase of the hard-work of the interns and work placement students. It was
put on to give them an opportunity to display their work to a wider audience in
a public setting.
We also wanted to inform the
public of Learn to Re-create’s products and services.
The display was a combination
of 2D and 3D objects which included mixed-media. The exhibition featured a sculptural
piece in the form of a garment, printed material, garment patterns, design concepts
and items from our current and past collection.
The sculptural piece which was
a garment made out of umbrella fabrics, jute, bits of other materials and
objects captured our ecological and creative values. Some of the materials used
would otherwise be discarded but in our sculptural piece we showed the public
the potential of reusing materials. This piece was made by the combined efforts
of our intern from South Africa and a Sheffield College work placement student.
The exhibition flyer was
designed by our intern from the University of Sheffield.
It was also important to
showcase work from previous students i.e. lampshades. The other products are
part of our Fashion collection and I believe the garment patterns and drawings
speak for themselves.
What are your future plans,
and do you have any other exhibitions coming up?
are working towards expanding our Fashion Development Programme which includes
the Fashion Incubator to Europe as we have only provided this programme to
participants from outside Europe to date.
are working on a crowdfunding campaign to raise much needed funds to develop
our Fashion collections for the commercial market and there is a Worker’s Craft
Cooperative where we intend to give people who are unemployed an opportunity to
earn whilst they create craft items.
In the next few months we will start our apprenticeship
programme so these projects are keeping us busy as a lot of work is going on
behind the scenes as we plan and prepare. This means we do not have much time
for another exhibition soon but we will let you know when we plan to hold our