Sunday 25 April 2010

Exclusive Interview with Nicola Woods from Eco Fashion Label Beautiful Soul

Fashion is a bit like food. Organic food and organic cotton. Fairtrade food and fairtrade clothing. Even local food and local fashion help to reduce climate change by reducing the ‘food miles’ or ‘fashion miles’ of transporting materials around the globe. I caught up with Nicola Woods, founder of Eco Fashion label Beautiful Soul, to find out how and why she wants to make fashion more palatable.

Nicola, can you tell us a bit about your background and involvement in the Eco Fashion industry?

I have a slightly unusual route in to the Fashion Industry. I remember writing to ‘Jim’ll Fix It’ to make me a fashion designer, but life has twists and turns and I found myself caught up in the rat race. The lifestyle it provided seemed to outweigh my lack of passion for my work (Insurance Broking). Something was missing, but I didn’t know how I would cope without the next pay rise. I was stuck in a rut and the security of payday seemed to mist the way. How could I possibly cope without my luxuries.

I had the opportunity to backpack around the world with my best friend and breaking away from the rat race for the first time in my adult life, gave me an insight into living on a budget. I was starting to see life in a different light, with endless opportunities.

Whilst in Tokyo, something happened to me. I was surrounded by the most amazing boutiques. I was like a child in a sweet shop. Mesmerised. Excited. Totally Inspired. Something inside me quite literally *came to life* (hence my love of vintage kimonos).

I realised that I needed to make radical changes. I accepted that everything else would have to be put on hold. I needed the opportunity and guidance to follow my dreams of becoming a fashion designer. I had buried these dreams for too long. I was determined to make this happen. I had found my calling.

I haven’t looked back since. I graduated from the London College of Fashion in 2008, with a BA (Hons) in Fashion: Design and Technology (Creative Pattern Cutter). During my final year, I was involved in a project based around ‘saving the earth’. I was hooked. Fashion with a TRUE meaning, for me, is the only way forward. It makes sense and it adds to my determination.

Fresh from graduating, I won a scholarship through the Centre for Sustainable Fashion and worked as a designer for a South African charity. The work I carried out with Tabeisa, an organisation committed to supporting disadvantaged communities across Africa, sparked a determination to set up my own sustainable fashion label and Beautiful Soul became a reality in November 2008.

Why was the name Beautiful Soul chosen, and what are the main eco credentials of your products?

Beautiful Soul is my nickname given to me by one of my closet friends. I am all or nothing and I thrive on challenge. Beautiful Soul aims to recycle the most 'scrumptious ingredients' from around the world sympathetically, and has made a name for itself with its unique use of vintage Japanese kimonos. The label does not conform to 'throw away fashion' but instead combines luxurious vintage fabrics with sustainable alternatives, such as British wool (sourced from Izzy Lane) and peace silk and organic jacquard (sourced from Tammam). The materials and innovative design combine to give the wearer a truly unique fashion experience.

Silhouettes are considered throughout the design process and a strong emphasis is placed on product longevity, multi function and garment adjustability, offering a versatility determined by our change in body contours. Material remnants feature as fastenings and embellishments, providing a solution to 'zero' waste. Beautiful Soul’s collections are expertly made in London.

What makes Beautiful Soul different from other Eco Fashion brands?

The combination of ingredients.

Where can people buy Beautiful Soul clothing?

You can visit Beautiful Soul’s website for a full list of Stockists:

Current Stockists:
Ascension Boutique:
Beautiful Soul:
Junky Styling:

How do you think the Eco Fashion industry is different in the UK and other countries?

Judging by the feedback from visitors at London Fashion Week, I believe that London is leading the way when it comes to Ethical Fashion. I am proud to contribute to such a positive movement. It’s truly exciting.

What do you think the future holds for Beautiful Soul and the Eco Fashion industry?

It is very early days for Beautiful Soul, but I thrive on challenge and I am extremely driven by my ethos. Change is difficult to influence, as a lone player, but individuals acting as a unified force can make change tangible. Since starting out, I have learnt that there are no rights or wrongs in ethical fashion. The most important thing is to stay true to yourself, keep an open mind and offer transparency. I am at my happiest when I am sharing and believe that this is the most effective way of pushing responsible fashion in to the mainstream.

If readers want to know more about your company or see your next show, where can they find out more information, and who should they contact?

They can visit Beautiful Soul’s website and join our Facebook page (through our homepage) to keep up to date with all our news. There are so many exciting things happening!

Atul Srivastava
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Tuesday 20 April 2010

Which of the main 3 UK political parties is the most eco friendly?

Please rank the main 3 UK political parties in order of which is the most eco friendly!

Have your say by:
-voting on this Blog
-voting on Twitter:
-voting by email to:

Please set out your votes by:
1. Most eco friendly party
2. Middle party
3. Least eco friendly party

The results of your votes will be published in Eco News, on this Blog and on my Twitter page!

Please include any relevant quotes if you wish, indicating whether or not you give permission for your name to be published or you wish your quote to be anonymous.


Atul Srivastava
Follow my daily updates of Eco News:


• A Brief History of Eco-Issues in General Election Campaigns in the UK
• The General Election Campaigns in the UK in 2010

A general election is an opportunity to examine global, national and local environmental politics.

The image of the Earth as a circular object with clearly defined limits is perhaps the most succinct and pervasive image that can be used to express concern for environmental management. In circulation since 1969, the year that startling images of planet Earth were relayed from the surface of the moon, they fundamentally recast environmental perceptions and legitimated the environment as a major political issue. The subsequent message of a key book published in 1972, The Limits to Growth, that infinite consumption of non-renewable resources within a finite system is impossible, was the starting point for the Green Party of England and Wales, contesting its first general election in February 1974.

There was a shift in the 1960s and 1970s away from previously deeply entrenched party loyalties, and towards “judging parties according to their stances on the issues of the day” (Pattie, 1990).

Environmental issues reached an electoral high point in the 1989 European elections, where the 14.9 per cent share of the vote won by the Green Party was the highest ever won by a Green party in any national election in any European state (Garner, 2000). However, the ‘first past the post system’ meant that the Green Party won no seats in the European Parliament. In 1999 the European elections were run on a form of proportional representation, and the Green Party elected Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert to the European Parliament (Dobson, 2000).

By May 2001 David Watts, Liberal Democrat candidate for Broxtowe, wrote in the Nottinghamshire Evening Post that “The protection and preservation of the environment is the single biggest issue facing the world”. The Ecologist published the results of its ‘Great British Environmental Survey’ in May 2001, revealing that over half of the electorate were about to vote, to some extent at least, on the basis of environmental policy.

The Liberal Democrats worked with Friends of the Earth to produce their 2001 election manifesto. FoE helped them to integrate a green column onto every page of the manifesto, rather than bolt on an ‘Environment’ page at the end. In contrast, the Labour manifesto placed climate change policy at the end of the manifesto, rather than being integrated into other policy areas.

During my interview with David Watts in 2001, he revealed that many local environmental policies were actually justified to voters on social or economic grounds. For example, the proposed bus lane on the A52 in Nottinghamshire was justified for its social and economic benefits rather than environmental. Similarly, local campaign leaflets justified energy efficiency policies in economic terms rather than environmental.

With the General Election in 2010 approaching, it appears that the environment is steadily moving up the political agenda, but driven by social and economic rather than purely environmental incentives. I will be watching the election campaigns carefully to see how social, economic and environmental incentives are expressed in 2010!

Atul Srivastava