Designing From The Heart: In conversation with Cris Roxas, founder of Gypsy Heart
How she discovered her purpose through creating her social enterprise and what it takes to be truly sustainable
What is the story behind Gypsy Heart?
The story I’d like to share is a story of second chances, because when I was sixteen, I almost died. It was a miracle that I was able to survive and since then I’ve always wondered whats the purpose of my being here in this world. As I grew older, I came to meet a lot of people and it made me realise that my purpose here is to create miracles in other peoples lives.
Gypsy heart came into being last December 2018 and it was the culmination of me participating in this life coaching program. It was a trilogy, and it really empowered me to raise my worthiness and to celebrate my skills. So initially that was the purpose why I created gypsy heart. It was to celebrate my self my miracle of being here, my second chance.
As the months go by as I’m working with my sewer and as I’m meeting sewing communities, I came to realise that through gypsy heart, I get to help these people. Like my sewer, she’s a single mom, she has three young children and her partner is abusive. What I admire about my sewer she is very resilient, she really wants to do her best for her children and she’s happy doing my gypsy heart projects and my designs. It feels fulfilling that I am able to help someone, it’s a win-win situation. Its a social enterprise, so Im earning and at the same time she’s earning so both of us are helped by this endeavour and I want to support more people like her.
What makes your brand sustainable?
In terms of sustainability, gypsy heart only makes very limited number of garments. so unlike large scale retail companies we are confident about the projection that we do. In terms of the quantities that we make, we don’t have over stock, we make sure that what we produce is just enough for us to sell. If people need more, that is the only time we restock or create another product.
In terms of the materials, for my original designs they’re created from overstock fabric from dead-stock fabric that I acquired since my college days and at the same time from my travels. some are heirlooms from my grandma because she like collecting fabric also. The materials are sustainable because I don’t buy fabrics that I won’t be using, I only use what I already have.
For my RTW collection, I upcycle the existing garments like adding embellishment and hand embroideries that make the garment more special. Asides from being a simple t-shirt or blouse, its the hand embroidery that my own mom makes that makes the garment more special.
We are conscious about the way we create products, even the way I pay the wages of my sewer, its very fair. If that’s what she says, of course I compute the operations and then okay. We want to be fair to everyone and as I mentioned it’s a win-win, everyone is happy and if everyone is happy people will be more empowered and more engaged to continue the partnership.
What Inspires you to create your products?
As a fashion designer, I took fashion in college and I’ve been working in retail for the past five years. I believe that my inspiration is seeing the person who will wear my clothes feel confident about themselves, seeing them happy whenever they wear it. It is the persons happiness that gives me fulfilment, that’s what inspires me to create beautiful clothes.
Do you have a favourite product that you made?
My favourite would be from my first Gypsy Heart collection I created a coat that’s made from upcycled fabric and my friend really loved it. During that time it was quite expensive because it was one of a kind I can’t recreate it anymore.
I felt so humbled that she bought it because she really loved it so the price didn’t matter to her, what mattered to her was that the garment made her feel beautiful, the garment made her happy. I guess that’s what makes a designer feel fulfilled that you create something with a purpose and not just for the sake of making something. You can’t put a price on happiness.
Why do you think it’s important to create a responsible fashion ecosystem? Do you think that is where the fashion industry is headed in the future?
Yes, I believe that is where the garment industry is going because even now there are retail brands that are trying to practice more sustainable practices like recycling or up cycling their Retasos, if they do local production they are able to get their left over materials and donate it to a company that can up cycle it to something else. In terms of being sustainable ethically, they pay the right wages to their suppliers.
It’s a big impact, being sustainable in terms of the environment, because the fashion industry is one of the biggest contributors of waste and pollution, because the chemicals used to dye and treat the clothes are just duped into rivers especially in china because that is where the biggest textile clothing factories are.
More retail brands should embrace being more sustainable because in the long run, people are getting more conscious with the way they purchase their garments. Not only that, it’s a lifestyle, people are becoming more environmentally conscious like lessening the use of plastic. I believe that given the kind of mentality that people have now, especially the millennials, they want to make a difference in their own way, and going sustainable is one of the ways they can make a difference in this world.
Where do you see gypsy heart going in the next few years? Any upcoming plans?
I see gypsy heart expanding, growing from just one sewer and having my mom as my head embroiderer. I could expand into a community of sewers, and given that there are more sewers, I could produce more garments and I could even expand into a different industry, into a home line of home items that are sustainably made, just like the garments. That’s how I see gypsy Heart, perhaps as a lifestyle store in the future.
What is your number one tip for somebody who want to start their sustainable lifestyle?
The number one thing to do is to ask yourself why. Why are you doing this, are you doing this to join the band wagon or are you genuinely concerned about the consequences of unmindful choices?
If you’re doing it because its Uso you’re not in essence. You won’t be able to really practice it consistently. Whereas, if you really believe in something if you really want to change then even if its not easy, if you’re genuine about your intention to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle then in whatever you do you become mindful.
It’s really a matter of authenticity about what you really believe in, because no matter how much you try to embrace the lifestyle, if you’re not really into it with all your heart you might just do it for a few months, and then what then? If you want to embrace that kind of lifestyle then try to do it slowly, in ways that you are sure that you can commit to doing. It's not easy but it's a person’s discipline that would come into play.
Cris Roxas - Founder of Gypsy Heart