Ethical approach powers afashion label
Motherhood and a determination to stick by her values helped to give Torquay creative Corina Muir the confidence to establish her own children’s fashion label.
Amber Days is now a flourishing business created by the proud Yorta Yorta woman who initially dabbled in fashion design as a hobby in 2018.
Back then she explored an activewear collection but the birth of her daughter Sapphire set the wheels in motion for a new – and more heartfelt – direction.
“I was working full-time in campaigning within the Aboriginal community which was my priority at the time,” Corina recalls.
“Then I fell pregnant with my daughter and I was a single mum so I was having these panics around taking time off work and how I was going to get back into the workforce.”
Although she says her employer was flexible and supportive, returning to work when Sapphire was six months old proved exhausting as Corina tried to balance solo parenting and her career.
In 2019 she decided to leave her job and focus full-time on building an ethical childrenswear label from the ground up.
Corina, who made the move from Melbourne to Torquay in early 2020, says she wanted her brand to reflect her passions for issues such as social justice, Indigenous rights and climate action.
“I love fashion but I have always been really conscious about my purchases,” she says.
“I like to do my research into all the practices behind the labels I am purchasing.
“When I had Sapphire, I thought ‘this isn’t just about how it impacts people or the environment, it’s also the health of my newborn child and what I am going to be exposing her to’.”
Corina says finding brands that ticked all the boxes in both sustainability and fair trade was an uphill battle five years ago.
“It was really hard to find labels who were doing both,” she says.
“Trying to find clothes I felt comfortable with putting on my daughter was challenging but I just loved buying clothes for her – dressing little people is so much fun,” she says.
“So that is what led me in the direction of producing childrenswear and producing something that customers could feel confident in knowing that my label had made the best choices possible at the time in all areas, not just one.”
Corina collaborates with female Aboriginal artists to design meaningful prints for seasonal releases which so far include the Nurtja and Wanala collections.
“With the collaborations I wanted to showcase Aboriginal women in particular with the artwork and to be able to share stories from all around Australia,” she says.
“I think it’s a really positive way that we can be sharing Aboriginal culture through our clothing.”
Each order is accompanied by a card which outlines the story behind the artwork.
Corina has been able to grow her purposeful business with support from the Global Sisters organisation, which gave her some pro bono work around being financially ready for investment.
“I needed capital to be able to scale and Lisa from Global Sisters spent numerous hours with me helping me to understand my financials,” she says.
“That was a game-changer.”
Corina says while her label has been scouted by big retailers such as The Iconic, her focus is on staying true to her ethos of being as conscious and transparent as she can be, which includes using certified non-toxic dyes and coconut buttons.
“Some of those big labels who are pumping out their polyesters is a much different process than me using smaller factories and ethical dyes, as well as air drying all of my fabrics – we’ve got a long way to go and we can still keep growing while being ethical,” she says.
Corina, who is dyslexic, says she would never have envisaged that she would one day be running her own business.
“Having Sapphire helped me to realise my strength in being a mum,” she says.
“Watching her and her power was really amazing.”
Now she hopes to support other Aboriginal women in business and help them to enjoy the benefits that come from being in control of your own destiny.
“As an Aboriginal woman in business you get to make these decisions for yourself which don’t go against your values,” she says.
“You get to choose what you do and what you don’t participate in.
“There are all sorts of decisions you get to make – such as outsourcing your work – which is so important to staying true to yourself, honouring your ancestors and bettering your country.
“There is something really empowering about that.”
Discover more about Amber Days by visiting amberdays.com.au and follow the journey on Instagram @amberdays. Learn more about Global Sisters at globalsisters.org.