Industry Interview: Paola Silk
For this Industry Interview, we interviewed Paola Silk, the Founder & Creative Director behind the sustainable and ethical brand SHILANGO.
Can you walk us through your background and how you got into fashion?
I was born in Mexico City and I have a degree in Business along with a post-graduate in Tourism. So, I am not trained in fashion per se. Fashion has been a lifestyle to me since I was five year old and by age 12 I was using my allowance to buy Vogue magazines and watching Fashion Television. Around the same time, I intuitively started to buy quality over quantity. I remember my sisters wondering why I would only have a pair of $100 jeans as opposed to five cheap pairs.
What inspired you to start SHILANGO?
My Mexican heritage for one, and becoming a mom truly inspired me to start SHILANGO in 2013. Mexico is a country with beautiful traits and traditions. The one we portray with SHILANGO designs is the art of handmade materials, as well as the fact that we know how to treat organic cotton naturally and sustainably.
What is your mission with SHILANGO?
I’m glad you asked! It hasn’t changed since I launched SHILANGO in 2013. The mission is to provide high quality and unique handcrafted clothing and accessories that are both beautiful and wearable.
What is your biggest challenge with SHILANGO?
Keeping up with all the demands of being an entrepreneur. Being the sole person responsible for sales, marketing, product development, and product design can be very difficult. And if that weren’t enough, I am also a wife and mother to two young boys, ages 3 and 6. It’s truly a challenge to balance everything. So time management and efficiency are key.
Where do you manufacture your clothes and accessories? And how do you ensure your workers get a living wage?
All the SHILANGO collections are proudly designed in Barrie, ON, and are handmade and fairly traded in Mexico. This year, I’m close to launching my very first handmade in Canada collection so be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook @shilango.official to learn more! I ensure my artisan partners are paid living wages by making such payments myself directly to each of them. This is one of the aspects of my brand I will always continue to do myself.
Can you walk through the materials you use? I saw on your website that you use repurposed and recycled materials — tell us more about that!
Of course! I love to talk about how we are eco-conscious. We work with seasonal and organic materials only. Our goal at SHILANGO is to be a zero-waste brand. I am constantly finding ways to reduce our ecological footprint. We use ethically sourced materials that have been considered either trash or recycled, but always from an organic and natural state. An example of this is the wood we use in our necklaces and earrings and also certain bracelet designs. This year for instance, new designs are created using chaquira beads from unsold stock. So instead of buying new material, we dismantle old products and use the pieces to make a brand new design.
What do you think everyday consumers can do to be more sustainable when it comes to their clothing choices?
Educate yourself on the matter of cotton vs organic cotton. This is the most common fabric used by fast fashion labels today. Also, learn about the different types of fabrics and how the making of such fabrics negatively affects both our natural resources and humankind.
What inspires you to create your designs?
Nature and its array of colors are my main inspiration. In fact, we just launched the Playa (beach), Garden, and Forest Collections recently! I want my clients to feel amazing with their purchase. I also want them to stand out by wearing something truly unique and meaningful at the same time being able to blend in with nature and its beauty.
Anything else you want to share with our readers?
At the moment, my website is set to serve Canadian residents only. Nonetheless, we do ship internationally to USA and Europe. Also we offer wholesale prices. Both services are handled via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
huge THANK YOU TO Paola for sharing her journey and story with us!
Be sure to follow her @shilango.official