Over the last 10 years, We Are Hairy People has been committed to improving all areas of our work to ensure we are as ethical as we can be. These areas are outlined below, spanning from working conditions of garment makers, through to our heart as a social enterprise.
The Clothing: We Are Hairy People paint on to clothing made by reputable companies, who are members of or certified by independent organisations such as the Fair Wear Foundation, FSC, Oeko-Tex, WRAP & GOTS. These certifications mean that the garments are created under more than ethical working conditions, where workers at all levels of manufacture or 'in the supply chain' from plantation to warehouse are paid fairly and looked after well. From the members monitored by the Fair Wear Foundation, we choose those who are accredited within the top category- ‘leader’.
Furthermore, renewable energy is used in the EarthPositive factories, making those pieces Carbon Neutral, as well as all the garments in all three suppliers that we use being made Organic, to reduce pollution and save on mass water waste.
We also collaborate with independent makers such as Lucy & Yak, Lefrik and Pangaia, with Birdsong and Big Wild Thought in the pipeline.
The Artists: We work in a community therapeutic Art Studio funded by Sarah’s online shop sales, to give up to 10 artists the chance to own their own futures, and offer an art space for art therapy programmes that we run. Artists usually stay for 1-5 years as we’re often a stepping stone that provides skills and confidence to go on to a more personal purpose. This programme has however been temporarily paused, as many of the team are unwell and can’t travel/attend, as well as Sarah being too poorly to manage others currently. Instead we’re hosting fortnightly drop in art sessions for our community to remove pressure to perform and just be able to receive community and creativity at this time.
The Paints: All paints and dyes are Vegan, Cruelty Free and non toxic. The paint is water-based and is set with heat to fuse with the fabric in a similar manner to screen prints. They’ve been approved as eco friendly by a scientist at Pangaia, a materials science company that we respect deeply.
The Packaging: The main part of our packaging is a recycled double walled paper sack, with recycled paper order notes & recycled card tags. In circumstances where clients such as Asos required Polybags, we used biodegradable bags with compost instructions.
The Studio Guidelines: All waste is sorted for recycling here at WAHP, and rare excess stock is sent to charity shops or kept by artists. We’re often gifted excess blank clothing as well from various places that would have otherwise had to dispose of them.
We use a renewable energy provider to power our studio.
We also plant so many trees that we are not just carbon neutral, but climate positive. In the last year, we’ve planted 1256 trees.
Collaborations and representing others: We have eco-printed (not painted) carbon-neutral charity garments available, where we split profits between our mental health work and activism charities/activists for; Climate action, Body Positivity, Gender and Disabled inclusivity, Conservation and other important issues faced by many.
We’re focussing on bringing more larger sized people, black people, indigenous people and people of colour in to photoshoots to increase representation and celebrate beauty in diversity, and welcome more applicants for these paid shoots. We’re also pushing in to neurodiversity through the designs and people we’re collaborating with after I, Sarah, had confirmation of my own autism in 2022.
Animal welfare: No animals, animal testing nor animal products are used in either the painting studio in Bristol or by our trusted suppliers.
The Next Step: We have now switched to 100% organic and recycled materials, to reduce worldwide water consumption, and reduce pollution. However, we're mostly passionate about customers sending in their own wardrobe pieces to be painted, or something they've found in a charity shop, and saving imperfect brand clothes from going to landfill.
In 2020 we increased awareness of our custom pieces and the option to send in clothing, so as to push that aspect of our work forward and decrease buying new items in for painting, even though they’re sustainably made, we want to up cycle more clothing.
In 2022 we want to find more ways to push these two things, to bring together, special personalised art, along with bringing garments back to life, as we can see this is the most sustainable service we can offer.
Custom items and Upcycling became 45% of the work performed in the studio by the last quarter of 2020. In 2021, we’d like to get this up to 80%.
We don’t use ads, we don’t promote consumerism, we don’t support Facebook or targetted marketing, all of our fans are organic.
Extra Advise: We recommend washing your pieces at low temperatures, always inside out, and send them back for repainting at just £10 if anything goes wrong. Be sure to wash dyed items on their own for first was then with like colours or alone after that. We hope your garment enjoys a long cared for life, and that you truly enjoy experiencing your wearable art! Please do send in items from your wardrobe with stains or damage that could be brought back to life with a bit of paint/dye!