Take 5 with Melis and Zehra from Psychetolia
We love being approached by new ethical brands! That was the case of Psychetolia, an ethical and sustainable brand for clothing and homeware based in London. Melis and Zehra, the two amazing founders, develop a beautiful collection of towels, shirts, cushions - all in vegan materials and inspired by handcrafts and traditional manufacture methods of Anatolian culture.
Tell us a bit about yourselves, where are you from, and why did you choose the UK as a base for yourself and your business?
We, Melis and Zehra, graduated from university this year in Turkey and have just moved to London this summer to start our sustainable and ethical clothing & homeware brand “Psychetolia”. We were amazed by the diversity in the UK. It has so many things to offer for everyone from different walks of life and huge acceptance towards other cultures. London is a great eco-system for sustainable brands and this environment creates great opportunities for collaborations with different brands that have the same vision as ours. It is also an amazing city to follow current and future slow fashion trends.
2. What's important to you, and how do these values affect your professional choices?
As Psychetolia, we try to align with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, especially gender equality. We believe that economic and social development is not possible when half of the population is held back. Therefore, we try to work with as many local women artisans as possible, especially those who live in the developing cities of Turkey.
Other than that, we also care highly passionate about transparency. We believe that with the increasing awareness, customers are now demanding more transparency from the brands. It is our responsibility to be open about our production process. We always share the artisans behind our products, Psychetolia is a proud supporter of “Who Made My Clothes” campaign [by Fashion Revolution].
3. Tell us about Psychetolia London - what’s your mission and vision?
Inspired by the colourful patterns of nature, we started this Anatolian cultural revival project. Psychetolia aims to empower local artisans by encouraging their artisanal works. During our visits to different cities in Turkey, we realised that these arts were in a vulnerable position. Therefore, like many other slow fashion brands, our mission is to keep these traditions alive by modernising them. We try to blend the traditional fabrics and methods of our ancestors with modern forms and designs of urban aesthetics in a sustainable and eco-friendly way. For example, we use vegan silk in our Kutnu shirts which is made from fibres of poplar trees. In the long term, our vision is to encourage everyone to buy less and make the clothes last longer.
We also put a great emphasis on the term “community”. Psychetolia is not only a brand but also a representation of the complete identity of the Anatolian culture with its music, literature, people, and values. We want to form a community in which people can enjoy themselves while being introduced to this colourful and remarkable world of Anatolia.
4. You work in the UK & Turkey, how would you describe the general eco-awareness in both places?
When we first arrived in the UK, we were highly impressed by the environmental awareness of the customers. There are tons of eco-friendly alternatives to everyday essentials in the market. It is also nice to see how Turkey is improving its environmental policies and taking constructive steps. Thanks to the younger generations, social media and emerging eco-conscious brands, Turkish people have started to change their buying behaviours and become more conscious about the environment. But we are aware that there is still a lot of work to be done, not only in the UK and Turkey but in the whole world.
5. What do you personally do on daily basis to live more consciously?
We both try to learn more about the environmental dimension and be more aware of our resource consumption. We are trying to keep our ecological footprint as small as possible by trying to live a plastic-free life. We are not only taking sustainable steps in our clothing, but also in other areas of life. For example, we use soapnuts to wash our clothes.
When we first started to learn about these issues and understand what it really means to live a sustainable and eco-conscious life, we had the urge to create awareness among other people, especially among youth. Therefore, we created a podcast series in Turkish in which we talk about daily tips to live more consciously. We also invited several social entrepreneurs who run sustainable businesses to be guests on our show and talk about their role in sustainable development.