What’s your name and who are you?
My name is Tessa Carroll and I am an assortment of things. In an ineloquent and haphazard way, I am a wayward designer who got fed up with the way the fashion industry operated and decided to buck the system.

At this moment, where are you writing from?
Currently I am sitting amongst the leaves of a peach tree in the back of a cafe in Abbotsford, sipping on an icy cold brew and avoiding emails.

What inspired you to become vegan?
I was brought up not to litter and to have short showers. Had I known of the environmental impact of eating animals, I would never have taken my first bite.

Where did you find the inspiration to start Ahimsa Collective?
When my leather handbag finally gave up the fight and I could no longer buy leather, I found that all I could buy was plastic! What kind of sustainable designer (or human who lives on earth) buys a plastic bag willingly when trying to save the world? It occurred to me that it wasn’t just me facing this problem, it was everyone who was changing their ways and yet had no options in the market.

Ahimsa Collective uses some pretty innovative, sustainable materials, can you tell us a little bit more about Pinatex and Deadstock and the benefits?
Our ethos was built on trying to produce a range of bags that aren’t just environmentally-friendly but also “environmentally-beneficial”. In this light, we aim to use existing resources to produce handbags that are both on trend and do not harm the Earth or any of its inhabitants. Enter Pinatex, a textile made from Pineapple Leaf fibres that is produced using the byproducts of the Pineapple Farming industry, effectively upcycling waste into a new textile without the use of any extra resources. Pinatex is a non-woven material that is strong and sturdy and emanates the texture of leather, without the use of any animal products.

We also rescue materials that were destined for landfill and include them in our production runs, giving them a chance at a second life. For us, these may be limited edition, but we’d prefer to see them in the arms of someone who’s going to appreciate them, rather than buried in our planet.

What is one thing about the leather industry people aren’t aware of?
Many people argue that leather is a natural product and therefore far superior to anything man-made. There are two things I would say to this: It’s 2019 and humans are finally working out how to best use our existing waste and turn it into something new.

By the time leather arrives in a retail store, prepped and ready for purchase – it has been treated so many times by so many different dyes and chemicals to stop
it from rotting that it is far from being anything close to ‘natural’.

Do you have a motto that keeps you inspired?
Create the things you wish existed.

What’s your ‘can’t-live-without’ Ahimsa Collective piece?
That’s a tough one… since I use the entire range practically daily! I have to say our Tote Modern – big enough for a laptop, small enough for date-night. Designed for our signature range of classics, this bag goes with everything.

What can we expect from Ahimsa Collective in 2019?
You can expect to find us in more and more tradefairs, opening our own pop-up stores and between travelling for work – propped beachside running cleanups
and hosting documentary screenings with a glass of rosé in hand.

You’re starving, and you walk past an LOTF store, what’s your go to order?
You can’t beat the Sweet Potato Fries and Belgian Mayo. SPF & Mayo, all the way.

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