Inspiring Women | Caroline Ochoa - Sustainable Living for Now
This year for International Women's day the theme was "Changing Climates: Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow’. We thought it would be great to interview Caroline Ochoa who own's her own sustainable fashion label and is an avid supporter of the slow fashion industry.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to start your business?
I've always wanted to be graphic designer so when I graduated high school I looked to getting a degree in design and that's how I moved from Central Queensland, Rockhampton, to the city in Brisbane. It was during my last year of my design degree that I began to think of fashion design and sustainable clothing. For my graduating project I designed a sustainable baby brand and clothing collection using my own illustrations printed on organic cotton. It was in 2013 that I graduated and also that was the year of the Rana Plaza Disaster where many people died due to horrible working conditions in a fast fashion factory in Bangladesh. This is what really got me thinking that there needed to be more brands that were ethical in the way they treat their workers and also sustainable using better and safer fabrics. This is what really made me decide to turn my project into a real business and brand - Mosov Organic. At the time there was also a gap in the market for Australian made and organic baby clothes so this seemed like the right thing for me to do instead of sitting at an office chair all day.
Caroline wearing our Scoop Neck Long Sleeve Shirt in El Salvador on her first trip to her parents' country.
When did you first realise you were entrepreneurial?
I think I have always been a little bit of an entrepreneur. My first memory of this is when I was in grade 4 and I had heard of the children who needed help through World Vision's 40 hour famine and I wanted to raise funds so I baked cookies and sold them to my class mates so I could donate. I think it also runs through my family as my grandmother has always been a hard worker and she had her own Cafeteria at the University of El Salvador. She would always tell me how that was the happiest moment of her life being her own boss before the war forced her to leave as a refugee to Australia. She is one of my biggest supporters and inspirations with my business.
But I honestly didn't think I could make my idea into a business but here we are 9 years on and I have been lucky to have met Kerrie and Mal at Merino Country who are always willing to help me with advice, manufacturing and support. They have been leading the way in the sustainable and ethical Australian made industry without even realising it. Merino Country has always had ethical and sustainable practices in their business model.
What keeps you motivated?
It's my passion for slow fashion which keeps me motivated to keep going even when you're up against fast fashion. I believe the Australian ethical clothing manufacturing industry needs our support as consumers. The locally made industry was once big and now it's uncommon to see Australian made and sustainable products in the shops - it's usually one or the other. If there is one thing that the pandemic has taught us it's the importance of local manufacturing. I really do want to see more Australian made, ethically made and sustainable clothing options out there which is why I expanded to adult clothing and why I started posting about sustainability and slow fashion on my social media. This is what keeps me going and over the years more brands are switching to better practices which is great to see. This year's IWD theme is 'Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow' and I believe that every little bit counts. By choosing sustainable clothing over fast fashion and synthetics you're making a small choice but together with more people it overall can have a big impact on our earth. We can already see how us as consumers can direct big companies' decisions as now there is a higher demand for organic cotton products and the big guys can see that and are shifting their practices to include these options.
Caroline modeling our Comfy Pants and Short Sleeve Scoop Tee
What is your favourite Merino Country item for work or play?
This is probably the hardest question for me to answer because over the years I have accumulated soooo many pieces! There are so many great staples and the fact they are all made in Australia with sustainable fabrics is amazing!
My favourite dress is the Shift Dress which I took to Italy and I wore it almost everyday as there was a heat wave - it was great to keep cool.
My fave pants are the Comfy Pants - I LOVE these pants and wear them nearly every day in Winter.
My fave tee is the Turtle Neck skivvy to wear in Winter. It's so soft, really comfy and warm! It's a classic design so it's a must have for everyone's wardrobe.