A combination of the words “ethical” and “intricate”, Etrican was Singapore’s first ethical, organic clothing label, when Yumiko co-founded it in 2009.
“I went to UWCSEA in Singapore, which had a strong social and environmentally-focussed curriculum. So, I was passionate about these issues very early on,” explains Yumiko, who is Japanese but has a Singaporean mother. She carried this passion with her to Oxfam UK, where her work in its recycling programme showed her the magnitude of the problem in fashion for the first time. As she gained more experience with British, American and German apparel manufacturers, the damages that the conventional clothing industry was causing to the environment were shockingly clear.
She moved back to SG in 2009, and was inspired to start Etrican, following some of the strictest standards in the industry, engaging only Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)-certified organic cotton farmers and facilities. But, she recalls, “Most people weren’t aware of the concept of organic cotton or ethical fashion at all. It was good in a way, as it gave us the opportunity to work with the National Environmental Agency, schools and tertiary education institutes.”
Today, interest has picked up and global brands are launching “conscious” collections. Etrican has expanded too, having added a baby clothing line in 2016.
About The Finder Expatpreneur Awards
In 2017, The Finder debuted its first-ever Expatpreneur Awards to honour foreign-born entrepreneurs running successful expat-owned businesses in or from Singapore. This 2018, a new batch of 23 Expatpreneur Awardees have been unveiled! All of them have one thing in common: Their brands help people “live well in Singapore” – The Finder’s core mission. (Find out more about the Expatpreneur Awards judge who coined the term “expat-preneur” in 2015 while you’re here!)
By Sushmita Mohapatra and Savitha Venugopal, The Finder Issue 292
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