Meet | Nicki Colls

AFC MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

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Nicki Colls

Co-founder, Fibreshed Melbourne 

Ahead of the upcoming Festival of Natural Dyes, we caught up with Fibreshed Melbourne co-founder Nicki Colls, to talk through festival highlights and her work in building networks across our local supply chain.

 
 

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TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT FIBRESHED MELBOURNE AND YOUR ROLE THERE?

Fibreshed Melbourne supports our local economy to access locally produced, sustainable textiles. We want our clothes to benefit the land and people in and around Melbourne
We advocate for a transparent, accessible and sustainable local textile network from its beginnings at the farm to its return to the soil at the end of its life. We do this by expanding carbon farming opportunities, rebuilding the foundations of regional manufacturing, and connecting end-users to their local supply chain in a personal way.
Fibreshed Melbourne is part of the Fibershed Affiliate Program, an international grassroots network that promotes the development of regional fibre systems communities. Fibershed’s work develops supply chains to create clothing that will become the new standard in a world looking to rapidly mitigate the effects of climate change.
My role at Fibreshed Melbourne is to manage the business and delivery of projects, I am in regular contact with the farms, local mills, artisans and designers and am currently getting ready for the Festival of Natural Dyes. 

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WHAT PERSONALLY DREW YOU TO THIS FIELD OF WORK?

I believe that whilst reduce, reuse, recycle must come first that transparent natural supply chains are critical to the on-going sustainability of textiles.  As a sustainability professional I have witnessed the long lasting impact of connecting communities, so one of my key aims is to connect our local community around slow fashion and amplify their voice.  

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WHAT IS THE FESTIVAL OF NATURAL DYES?

The Festival of Natural Dyes running from August 20 until September 10 is a celebration of the art of extracting colour from plants.  It is a program of classes, exhibitions and workshops in and around Melbourne for curious and botanical minds. 
You can attend an intensive workshop, a half-day session or drop in to one of the natural dye craft groups in your area. The Festival lists everything happening in the natural dye space so that you can pick and choose.
At the centre of the Festival is a two-day conference where participants can hear from professionals in farming, processing, manufacturing or researching natural dyes. The Natural Dye Conference will explore the opportunities that botanical dyes present for local fibre industries. The conference is being hosted by RMIT University on August 31 and September.

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IF YOU HAD TO PICK ONE OR TWO HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE UPCOMING PROGRAM, WHAT WOULD THEY BE?

The opportunity to hear from Sally Blake at the Natural Dye Conference. Sally Blake's Eucalyptus Dye Database is the culmination of research into the colour produced from over 200 species of Eucalyptus at the Australian Botanic Gardens. Sally will bring her exhibition to Melbourne for the first time as part of the Conference and it will stay on in Kuwaii’s city store as part of Melbourne Fashion Week.
Secondly, you cannot go past the chance to get blue hands in an organic indigo vat!  The Festival features classes on indigo, setting up vats, using indigo, and even exploring the use of Australia’s native indigo plant.

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WHAT DOES ‘AUSTRALIAN’ MADE MEAN TO YOU?

Australian made provides an opportunity for us to celebrate the wonderful people who work in textiles in this country.  From those who look after our soil on the farm, to those that create colour, to those that run our processing and manufacturing industries, right through to textile recyclers and composters, we have opportunities to create transparent supply chains right here in our backyard.  When designers can talk to farmers, the opportunities for co-creation of uniquely Australian products comes to fruition. 

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RECOMMEND 5! WHO/WHAT/WHERE ARE YOUR LOCAL TEXTILE & FASHION GO TO’S?

Keeping up the focus on natural dyes, let’s share a few businesses working in this space:
1. Alpaca Fibre Barn and Valley Maker collaboration | A new solar powered mini mill that processes alpaca fleece into yarns collaborating with natural dye artisan Kate James to create a rainbow of coloured yarns made within a 20km radius!
2. Ilka White | Ilka’s command of textile knowledge is a privilege to behold.  Attend one of her introduction to natural dye classes and you will come away with a wealth of knowledge.
3. Tamara Leacock at Remuse Designs | REMUSE utilises natural fabrics and vegan materials, fibre reactive and mindfully concocted plant-based dyes, locally and globally sourced, with a constant exploration of GOTS certified organic materials, deconstructed and recycled fabrics, and unbleached and unaltered calico. REMUSE products are designed and manufactured within their Collingwood design studio, and are Ethical Clothing Australia accredited.
4. Handmaker’s Factory | Using natural dyes in print making opens up a world of design opportunities. Nichola's full day workshop teaches you how to extract colour from a variety of local and everyday seasonal plants, as well as how to create print paste and pigments to make your own paints.
5. Royal Botanic Garden’s Plant Dye Database | A hidden treasure, the von Mueller Resource Centre holds a detailed reference section of all plant dye testing carried out at the gardens, which are available for viewing. The records include native plants, mud dyeing, lichen, fungi, seaweeds, indigo and ancient dyes on different substrates including wool, felt and raffia!

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WANT TO KNOW MORE?

Head to the Fibreshed Melbourne website below, follow their journey on Instagram and Facebook as @fibreshedmelbourne and get in touch via letsyarn@fibreshedmelbourne.com