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#who made your clothes Kate?

Ethical Fashion is Cooler Kate

Ethical Fashion is Cooler Kate

While I would not call myself a monarchist – there are far too many issues of inequality attached the the institution of monarchy for me to be comfortable with the idea- I do recognise the huge platform the UK royals, notably the young ones, have. Especially notable is the power they have to highlight important global issues. Given that fashion and clothing is where much of the focus is when the global gaze falls (with unrelenting frequency) on Kate Middleton (The Duchess of Cambridge), the opportunity to do good in that space is immense.

I was therefore disappointed to see that on the latest Royal visit to India (#RoyalVisitIndia), Kate was wearing a  75 pound Topshop dress. A ‘Fast Fashion’ brand that makes its profits, and Kate’s dress, off the backs of the exploitation of Asian women garment workers.

Given that the very same day the Royal couple had met to talk about advancing women’s rights in India, this seemed to be both a massive missed opportunity and an extraordinary misstep in public relations.

Let me explain why. Continue Reading →

muka kids’ accreditation of sustainable clothing brands

Accreditation Standards

Accreditation Standards

Preloved clothing from accredited ethical & sustainable brands (our ‘good’ brands) can be bought and sold on our muka kids shop (in time we will offer discounts on new items from our ‘good’ brands).

To be accredited a clothing brand needs to earn a certain number of ‘muka buttons’ – each button is for a specific ethical & sustainable practice*

Preloved clothing from accredited ethical & sustainable brands (our ‘good’ brands) can be bought and sold on our muka kids shop (in time we will offer discounts on new items from our ‘good’ brands).

A brand that is awarded buttons for being ‘Fully Ethical’ AND ‘Fully Organic’ earns muka accreditation for just those two buttons, a brand that is EITHER ‘Fully Ethical’ OR ‘Fully Organic’ needs ONE other button (nos 3-13) to be accredited, and other brands need to be awarded THREE of the other buttons (nos 3-13) to be accredited.

The 13 muka buttons for ethical & environmental practices Continue Reading →

The Quick and Dirty on our Changing Model

We are on a Journey.

We are on a Journey.

A few weeks back we wrote about our BIG change of direction or pivot as those in the cool kids club call it (note I am NOT in this club, and I try not to let it bother me, but sometimes it does just a little) . I digress.  You can read all about why we have changed muka and the big journey that led to it, but if you just want the quick and dirty here it is!

How it is going to be different at muka

How it is going to be different at muka

Muka Kids in India – Some reflections so far

And on the 10th day we had a wee lie down….

Since leaving Wellington we have been on a fairly intensive schedule  speeding our way around India from bottom to top (check out the photos as we go). Now we are in Kolkata I finally have some time to sit down and write a few reflections on the journey so far. Not many mind, as really I will need physical and temporal distance from India to absorb and understand a lot of what I have seen and experienced. So more esoteric thoughts later I think!

We have now seen the entire chain of cotton clothing production spanning almost the entire continent of India.

Continue Reading →

Filming Muka Kids: Part 3

By now most of you will have seen the crowdfunding video which came out of the process I’ve documented in the last few blogs ‘filming muka kids’. This is the last post in the series. The editing.

Chris & I talk editing

Chris & I talk editing

This is a picture of my friend Chris & me,  talking editing while we were filming. I think if he had known what lay ahead his expression would have been different. Like scared.

I had intended that this series be a photo blog, but alas when you lose the will to live part way through editing you unsurprisingly have no desire to take photos either.

Chris saved me. He worked thoroughly and sensibly and took breaks. He worked when I was not there and NEVER, not once, mentioned that he might be regretting this just a little.  There was a wee awkward patch though when we discussed the use of z in revolutionizing I will admit…

The first night we made the mistake of aiding our efforts with a wee shot each of caffeine from my beloved La Peppina. For those of you who do not know La Peppina is my partner in muka kids (and also our antique hand pulled home espresso machine). This did not so much make us alert as just damned anxious. So after we left at 11pm we both, I suspect, lay awake till 2am with too much caffeine coursing through our systems, wondering whether this thing would ever end. I also wondered  if in fact the sound of me saying “Hi I am Jess” would be permanently burnt into my aural memory…

But worry not! The next night (Tuesday, the night before the video was due to be submitted to the Spark My Potential team), Chris was calm, we ate only colour free lollies (sorry Chris, I broke your sugar free patch) and we even had a few laughs. And the thing was done. Chris was brilliant. He fine tuned, and twiddled and matched up audio tracks so my lips moved in time with the words (always useful).  He cut and matched pick up tracks I had done that day,  and he made me truly grateful that I have a friend who does brilliant work keeping New Zealand Music and Art alive & kicking  (check out more of his stuff here).

So if you have not seen it, check out the video with the child stars. And my ever and grateful thanks to all those who helped me make the video and supported me through the process. The adventures continue…

muka kids: revolutionzing how kids clothes are made & used


I Have Run Towards the FEAR!!!


this is a scared secret squirrel.

This week muka kids was giving a massive opportunity to take part in a new project (yet to be revealed). I was given a 10 day time frame to get my proverbial together and bring in a crowdfunding campaign (more than this I cannot say). It totally freaked me out! 

I have my oldest starting school on Monday (and all the hesitations, emotions and excitement that go with that). I took on ANOTHER bit of research to deliver in the same time frame last week, alongside my already existing work. To top this all off I know sweet fanny adams about making a video (and frankly have no funds to pay a professional). And this I need to do in 9 days!

BUT, the potential for muka kids is massive. It would drive the launch that much closer, enable me do the trip to India I need to do to meet the producers and really tell the muka kids clothing story, and allow me to get the samples made. All of which would mean I could do less of my consulting work and dedicate more time to muka kids. This however is just the cherry on top. The main pie would be the buzz that muka kids could have around it from being involved in such a launch.

SO, I ran towards it. I will as usual be taking a deep breath and asking for help (which frankly I am rubbish at doing, might make me look vulnerable you see…sound familiar?). But muka kids has been from the start all about exposing myself to a new way of going forward with my life.  I don’t know if I will make the cut yet, but I feel really excited about trying*.

*Note to my sponsor and long suffering partner, I thank you in advance for forgiving me for being a weeny bit grumpy in the next few weeks…

How Many Kid’s Clothes Are Too Many? A Photo Blog

A big part of what drives me forward with muka kids is trying to address in a meaningful but positive way the impact that our clothing use has on the environment. I was kind of surprised when I looked into it in an earlier blog how much a family’s annual clothing allocation contributes to CO2 emissions, water use and landfill: it is 1.5 tonnes of CO2, 200 cubic meters of water and 70kg of waste per year….that is a lot for something that seems as benign as clothing.

So in developing the model of business for muka kids I was pretty focussed on how we could keep clothes in use for longer, and reduce the amount we produce and buy. What occurred to me while I was thinking about this was that my own kids seem to have quite a lot of clothes (many of them used, ‘gifted’, passed on etc). Yet they only seem to wear a few, and these are either

1) their favourite and kind of foul/torn/too small items or

2) really good quality clothes that are well designed, attractive and fit for purpose that can be worn and washed multiple times in a week (did I hear someone say laundry drudgeon?).

So then I wondered how many of those ‘other’ clothes do they actually have? I had a sneaking suspicion it was a lot because there is a looming and terrifying presence in our attic space that I try not to dwell upon too often…

Once I started counting I was a little alarmed (and even a little embarrassed).

Here are the results of my little challenge. What it really brought into focus was being smarter about my kid’s clothing. While I thought I was saving money by buying or obtaining a greater number of cheaper (and often poorer quality) or badly designed new and used clothes, in reality the total spend is a lot more with this approach than if I just restricted my buying to key, quality, really usable (new or used) items – which pretty much turns out to be what gets worn by the kids mainly.

So I dare you to undertake a similar exercise next time you are doing a dreaded ‘sort through’!  It will probably surprise you.

Continue Reading →

Being Boys

I was reflecting recently on our focus on girls in the good work to make a more equal and fair society. I am a parent of two girls. Naturally, as a woman, as a feminist, as a person passionate about social justice I want them to grow up in a world where their choices are never limited, their views respected, and the focus of attention is on the things that actually matter, as opposed to the things that really don’t but which creep into our psyche as women (yes I am talking the size of our thighs/nose/tummy insert body part here).

I follow a lot of really fantastic blogs, pages, people who talk about the stuff that really matters for girls. Supporting them as scientists, as learners, as explorers, as individuals. Teaching them and encouraging them in the real truth that there really is not a difference between a boy and girl in the fundamental stuff of life.

In our home we have a little saying  ‘Who would want to be a princess? All they do is hang out in castles and have babies’. This is not so much to denigrate those princesses across the world who I am sure live fulfilling and empowering lives (cough cough) but to emphasize to our daughters that as something to aspire to it is kind of dull; life is exciting and full of possibility, sometimes it does not always work out, but limiting yourself before the first hurdle because culture tells you to focus your aspirations low seems particularly depressing.

So far, so much sense, but why have I called this blog ‘being boys?’

Continue Reading →

Losing Friends and Influencing No-One (or how not to alienate your actual friends through social media business overload)



A really good friend of mine gave me this card one birthday. I laughed and laughed because I am the kind of person that finds it hard to believe that anyone could ever possibly have 500 plus friends (I am not sure I have even talked to 500 people on any sort of meaningful level during my entire lifetime).

In fact my social media friend number remains firmly below 100 and I am kind of ok with that. Basically I have told myself (ok it was a little firmly and had a tone) that I don’t really need to measure my self worth by the number of people that can see my kind of odd updates (usually about some totally bizarre interaction with my children where somehow I end up put in a rubbish bin or other such retribution that in a four year olds mind is pretty awesomely bad).

Continue Reading →

Procrastination my old friend

This is NOT me. This is other people getting on with important tasks.

This is NOT me. This is other people getting on with important tasks. Efficiently.

So it goes something like this

  1. Get freaked out by a new task I have never done before in a new profession I know really very little about and it seems kind of insurmountable
  2. Tidy
  3. Do other fun design stuff
  4. Do some contract research work
  5. Facebook update
  6. Check personal facebook
  7. Cuddle the baby
  8. Make Coffee
  9. Read paper online
  10. Give myself pep talk about sucking it up and just getting on with it
  11. Look back at freaky new task

and repeat….

Continue Reading →