When I was 9 years old my Dad bought me my first sewing machine. As he taught me how to sew cushions, and eventually teddy bears and clothes, I remember thinking to myself, “If it takes me this long to make this one thing, and something similar in shops costs this much, then surely the people making them don’t get paid very much.”
I posed this question to my dad and he explained to the little nine year old version of me that most things are made overseas in large factories by machines. With a little further probing he added that yes, there are people working there, and no, they don’t get paid very much or have a very a good life. So the clothes I was wearing suddenly felt a little heavier, the things around me a little darker.
Quietly a thought slid down the back of my spine, “Perhaps you can do something about this?” However, it was quickly silenced by something much louder, “Don’t be ridiculous!”
Fast forward a few years and it's 2011, I’m 22 years old, married and a couple of months away from finishing uni. I also had just been diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. While I was extremely fortunate, the surgery left me unable to have kids.
It took me years before I even let myself look at a young child. I couldn’t walk down the baby aisle in the supermarket and being around my friend’s kids was like a honey coated knife to the heart.
As I got older, and the hole of not being able to have children got bigger, I eventually went to go and see a counsellor. She suggested enriching my life with other things, and so I began the search for ways to fill my life.
Inspired by the people I knew who had done similar things, I tentatively considered buying a business. I came across one that I liked, a beautiful store. However, as I looked in to the products and the brands, the thought of contributing to unliveable wages made me feel physically sick.
But as I researched those brands, I also came across others. Ones that were actively ensuring they treated the women making their products with respect by providing them with nice working conditions and liveable wages.
After so long of not looking at a child’s cute little shoes, or beautiful detailed toys, or just anything miniature, finally allowing myself to do so feels like jumping into the ocean for the first time and magically discovering I can swim.
Now as an adult, I am a little more able to silence the sceptic and listen to the dreamer, and so MieAna was born.