Ethical Fashion People

Dreamer, Do-er & Do Gooder: Alana Deukett, Australian Ethical Fashion Designer

Luludu design ethical fashion crochet shoes
Written by Jennifer Nini

It’s no secret that I have a soft spot for Aussie designers who create eco friendly and sustainable fashion.

Alana Deukett is no exception. The Gold Coast (Australian) based founder of ethical fashion label Luludu, Alana designs and sells gorgeous crochet shoes for women and babies, dream catchers and specially designed tote bags.

I am selective about the people and the type of businesses I work with, even in the ‘ethical fashion’ space. With Alana it was a no-brainer. She ticks all the 3 D’s: dreamer, doer and do gooder.

Alana Deukett, founder of Luludu Design. Source: Alana Deukett

INTERVIEW WITH ALANA DEUKETT OF LULUDU

1. How did you get started?

For a long time I knew there was something more to life. I was tired of just living day to day, and not consciously making my own decisions and always being told what I should do to be accepted as “successful”. There was so much waste, so much pain, so much unnecessary suffering – inside many of us, and directed towards animal and plant life. I was working in a mundane job, and was feeling like there had to be more. So in 2011 I moved to Byron Bay and learnt more about spirituality, nature and life than I ever had in my 26 previous years.

I was looking for an idea for a business that I could create when I found my Mums crochet shoes from the 80s. I met my friend Ruth a few weeks later who taught me how to crochet and helped me create the shoes.

However, as each pair takes 8 hours to make I knew I had to find a team to help me make them, but I didn’t want to support slave labour. So I went on the search to find an ethical company which led me to Cambodia…

Luludu handmade ethical crochet shoes

2. How do you incorporate eco-friendly elements into your products?

In May 2014 I travelled to Phnom Penh, Cambodia to find an ethical company to work with. It was a big experience that didn’t go to plan at all (I was only supposed to be there for 1.5 months but ending up having to stay for 3.5 months), but I finally connected with a great company called tonlé who is very well respected for their ethical practices and treat their staff amazingly. The men and women employed by tonlé work in a relaxed, safe environment, and are free to laugh and chat as they go.

After meeting Rachel and her team, I spent 6 weeks training three of her staff on how to make my shoes.

I also only use animal friendly materials on my shoes, and make sure I only use feathers that have come from birds who shed them naturally on my dream catchers.

3. What inspires you?

People who are standing up and sharing their message. Maybe they are making women feel whole again just by bringing their awareness back to their natural beautiful selves. Maybe it’s someone who sees a problem with the chemicals in our food and has the drive to make a change, even if it’s in a small way. Nature inspires me, stillness inspires me. It sounds cheesy, but love inspires me.

4. What are the biggest challenges in what you do?

Overcoming my own fears about myself and running my own business. Also being able to talk about my product and give it the justice it deserves. There’s also the problem of trying to re-educate people on what you are supporting when you shop at cheap chain stores, and the reasons why my shoes cost much more in comparison.

5. What is your proudest achievement?

Going to Cambodia and never giving up – never losing sight of my vision. I knew it would all work out, I could feel it. Many challenges came my way including partnerships falling apart, on-going stomach troubles, having to deal with the things I was seeing and experiencing on my own when I just wanted to break down and cry… but I knew it was all happening just as it should have.

6. What’s your vision for the business?

To continue to help change the lives of as many people as I can. I think we are very lucky in these first world countries. We have so much available to us. However I don’t think we deserve this lifestyle any more than a family in Cambodia (or any third world country) does, and as long as I can help, I will.

I understand it isn’t all black and white, and the solution isn’t as easy as throwing money at something. It’s about knowledge, education… finding the root of the problem and starting there. There is no quick fix, but we are here to learn and grow through kindness and understanding, in every situation.

Cambodian women at Tonle learning Alana's crochet patterns. Image source: luludu.com.au

Cambodian women at Tonle learning Alana’s crochet patterns. Image source: luludu.com.au

7. What are your favourite eco brands?

Tonlé of course! They have a zero waste policy meaning they use every single scrap of (recycled) material possible, and Rachel and her team work so hard to not only create beautiful clothing but also treat their staff very well and pay them fairly.

I also love Be Kind Vibes, who has the softest t-shirts known to man, made from organic cotton and hemp (I’m wearing one right now!)

8. How do you personally try to maintain an eco-friendly lifestyle?

I don’t use any toxic chemicals in my home or on my body. I try to eat as many organic and local veggies as possible, and will soon be moving to a farm where I can finally have my own compost and worm farm!

Luludu Design handcrafted fairtrade shoes

5 REASONS WHY I’M A FAN

Alana practices ‘mindful’ business: “I’m always trying to think of new ways to keep giving back, and I have decided I will also be donating a percentage of each sale to a chosen organisation in the coming months. Stay tuned for more details soon!”

She’s super honest. “I went from Peter Andre, to Taylor Hanson and somehow ended up at Ja Rule” she says of her celebrity teenage crushes. Anyone who openly admits to crushing on these guys has got to be awesome in my book.

She’s humble. When asked to use 3 words to describe herself she stated:kind, modest, go-with-the-flow.” My kind of woman.

She’s a girl’s girl: “I still love a good episode of Sex and the City (who doesn’t right?)” So do I – it’s a hilarious show and it’s first and foremost about friendships (but haters are gonna hate….)

She believes in natural beauty: “Black sesame oil, weleda cleanser for sensitive skin and an organic lip balm.”

Luludu & Eco Warrior Princess ethical fashion blog giveaway

LULUDU + ECO WARRIOR PRINCESS BLOG GIVEAWAY

As if that wasn’t enough, Alana is also generous.

She is giving readers a chance to win a pair of Luludu handmade crochet shoes valued at $120. Subscribe to the blog to receive an email about the details of the giveaway and what you need to do to enter. (Hint: follow us both on Instagram).

If you’re interested in connecting with Alana directly, you can follow her on Facebook and Instagram or through the Luludu website.

Watch this space for more details of the upcoming giveaway xx

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About the author

Jennifer Nini

Jennifer Nini is a writer, activist and the founding editor of Eco Warrior Princess. In 2010, after studying Fashion Business, she launched Eco Warrior Princess to explore her interests in fashion, politics, social justice and sustainability. Jennifer is also the founder of The Social Copywriter, a digital agency harnessing the power of copywriting and content marketing to help mindful businesses reach more people. When she’s not perfecting a sentence or coaching business clients, you will find her at her certified organic farm reconnecting with nature.

4 Comments

  • I’m thrilled to see Alana works with Tonle! I love their designs and commitment to zero-waste. I would love to go to Cambodia and visit their artisans and learn from them. There’s a few other companies I have in mind in addition to Tonle, but Tonle is definitely at the top of my list! It was also great to learn about Alana professionally and personally. Her shoes are adorable. 🙂

    • I know – how amazing are tonle? I haven’t been to Cambodia either but would love to go too. And Alana’s shoes are absolutely divine – each are so intricate and beautifully – definitely a fashion keepsake 🙂

      • Absolutely. Thanks for sharing the great work of designers who are conscious of the work of their artisans and the materials of their products. 🙂 🙂

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