We Are Witu; neoprene, not scuba


With fashion’s return to the simple stylish, and the newfound popularity of neoprene, two friends, Natalie Turnbull and Elise Wilken, brought both their names and their ideas together to create the expanding company Witu.

Let’s face it, there is a definite shift in past trends, from colour blocking, florals, clashes and outstanding statements to a much more defined, sleek and simple style. Pastels, monochrome and sharp, defined silhouettes have overtaken, and with it, the addition of more flexible and quality materials, such as neoprene.

Neoprene, if the material doesn’t sound familiar, is the same material commonly found in scuba suits, kid’s lunch bags and laptop cases. The recent outbreak of ‘scuba’ designs has gone viral through both designer and mainstream retailers – scuba suit gear has arrived into stores as a simple yet striking change from conventional materials, with the added benefit of not only being waterproof, but maintaining colour, flexibility and shape, meaning it is a life-long purchase.

So with both leading fashion labels and mainstream fashion taking neoprene into their list of must-have materials, and with the Witu girls’ goal to create ‘the perfect every day tote,’ it was no surprise that they chose to design with it. And I cannot thank them enough for this. The classic ‘habitat tote’ (pictured left) has the easiness of a tote, but does not end up falling apart like most others.  Witu have not ended here, but have clutches, duffel bags, overnight bags and backpacks all featuring the simple effortless look of the tote. Not long after the release of the bags, came the addition of accessories, and even clothing, including the ‘ozone’ skirts and jumpers. Just as simple, and just as distinctive. This means the neoprene lover can now make an outfit made up entirely of the material, without looking like a laptop case.

Elise and Natalie reside in Victoria Australia, where all stockists reside, but online purchasing gives each customer the option to customize their product. The Witu bag allows you to select from a range of colours and adjust the standard measurements along width or length where desired.

With its outburst onto the fashion scene, neoprene no longer solely applies to deep sea divers. The Witu product will not only give you a stylish staple to fill your bag collection or wardrobe, but will stay with you for years to come.

Visit http://www.witu.com.au/ to learn more about these neoprene goodies.

By Jessica Clausen

Fresh Australian Swimwear Label With an Eco-Friendly Agenda

For Elle Evans, the ocean is an incredibly treasured place. Growing up in Melbourne, her love of water knew no bounds and she immersed herself in a beachside life as much as possible. Coupled with her love of sewing – a familial passion passed on by both her Mother, who is a draftsperson, and Grandmother, who was a dressmaker and knitter – it’s no wonder she successfully managed to create a swimwear label at the age of just 22. Much of her young life was spent making the most of the opportunities she was given, and she regularly participated in fashion parades and fashion/design competitions in her home town. She moved to an Arts-focused high school and went on to complete her Advanced Diploma of Applied Fashion Design, and after working as an assistant designer in Melbourne for three years, she made the decision to start her own Swimwear label- Elle Evans Swimwear.

Elle Evans Swimwear is not your ordinary local Australian Swimwear label – they strive to be as sustainable and low-impact as possible, without sacrificing the detail and quality of fit and style.

“Every day I work towards making Elle Evans more sustainable. I’m constantly blown away by how wasteful the fashion industry can be and how little information shoppers are given about what they are buying.”

All products are designed and created in Australia by a team of only three, consisting of a seamstress, designer and web designer. In the manufacturing of their products they only make use of post-consumer waste fabrics that would otherwise be thrown away as landfill. This has the added benefit of using 80% less production energy. The team are also working towards creating fastenings and trims that are just as eco-friendly.

Another creative feature of Elle Evans Swimwear is the addition of instructive washing labels sewn onto every garment, helping wearers reduce unnecessary energy consumption expended during the washing and drying processes – an incredibly environmentally damaging stage. The team also plan to begin a ‘take back program’ for their garments, where customers that do not want to donate their used swimwear to charity or friends and family can give them back to the company where they will be taken care and disposed of in an environmentally conscious manner.

Elle Evans Swimwear is both fashionably and sustainably forward. Featuring a brilliant mix of vibrant blue, purple and silver shades the garments are all created with unique cuts and styles, many inspired by lunar and ocean themes. They have also recently released a children’s range consisting of a number of floral and frilled bathing suits and board shorts to suit all young beach lovers!

Check out the Elle Evans Swimwear online shop at http://www.elleevansswimwear.com.au/ and give them a follow on Instagram @elleevansswimwear


Odd and loving it: Australian brand putting the goodness back into mismatched socks


After working a 9-5 office job for a number of years, Brock Sykes decided the black and white life of suits and cuffed shirts was not for him. In the office, he was known for his colourful socks and penchant for unconventional fashion choices, and this sparked Brock to fullfill his dream of starting his own business, specialising in quirky, bright and most importantly, odd, socks.

And so Odd Pears was created.

The Odd Pears ethos is focused on individuality and self expression, and just by looking through the plethora of uniquely designed socks they have available – from stripes to spots to colourblock – it’s plain to see they are lovers of all things beautifully odd. On ordering a certain design, customers are sent three socks – all slightly varied but based around the same style and colours.

Brock says he has loved every moment he has spent working on Odd Socks as a company and a hub of all things strange and exciting, and any difficulties he was faced with in starting Odd Socks was met with great enthusiasm and a will to carry Odd Socks to success.

“Quite obviously the most difficult part was sourcing a manufacturer. Additionally, not just finding any old manufacturer, but one who could create a niche product and one whose manufacturing process was ethical and morally acceptable.”

As well as advocating for people to be themselves and reject society’s status quo, Odd Pears is a  strong believer in charity and reaching out to those in need. They currently run their own Ethical Consumerism Program called One Pear One Dollar, where they take $1 from every sale and pass it on to their partner charity organization ‘$1 Day’. This money is then invested into the lives of people experiencing global inequality due to things like lack of education, finance, health services and safe living spaces. So far, a health clinic has been built, sanitation missions have been implemented, and a ‘back to school’ program for Syrian Refugees has been started.

We decided pretty early on in the game that we wanted to be a company of substance, socially and ethically responsible and committed to doing our part. This is our way of getting our wonderful supporters involved in a marvellous cause with far-reaching implications.”

Creating Odd Pears and committing to make the most out of the past 11 months it’s been running for has taught Brock that there is no formula to life and to take each day for what it is, at face value.

The best service you can give yourself is to trust yourself and commit wholeheartedly. Every drop of knowledge you gain from chasing your dreams is worth a thousand days of chasing someone else’s. If you don’t get off your ass and have a go, then you’ll find yourself twenty years later, working on another person’s dream and regretting each time you told yourself not to do it.”


You can also check out Odd Pears socks on instagram @oddpears and give them a follow!

Be Naturally You – Samantha Sargent

We talked to the visionary behind Benaturallyou, Samantha Sargent. Benaturallyou promotes a range of delicious, eco-friendly and vegan products, as well as Sam’s own line, Be Genki! She’s a master of holistic living and a true entrepreneur.

Q: How did your passion for beauty and health develop?

A: I’ve always been interested in health and beauty, and am very grateful for my parents. My mum taught me about healthy eating from a young age, and later on encouraged me to get into yoga practice. Whereas my dad encouraged me to enjoy sports, to be outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air, and to jump head first in to life. When I left school I enrolled in Makeup Artistry College, and it grew from there. I then went on to study Holistic Nutrition, Physical Education (Fitness) and Aromatherapy, as well as jumping at every opportunity to experience disciplines such as Vipassana meditation, Access Consciousness, Aura-Soma Colour Care and numerous other practices. I was and still am hungry for constant self-development and educating myself moreso. I love deep diving in to life and living. And whilst I love learning about a variety of industries and topics, it just so happens that health and beauty are that which I am mostly drawn to. I guess it’s because I am ultimately learning for my own benefit and improvement, and then love implementing it in to my business. This week I am finally heading up north to become a Certified Facilitator of Access Consciousness, after using the tools and techniques in my private life for the past 7 years. It’s been an ever-growing and ever-evolving love for health and beauty.

Q: And this culminated in Benaturallyou?

A: Yes, absolutely. BeNaturallyou.com has two sides to it. One is the online shop that contains a collection of brands that tick all the natural, organic, eco, vegan, ethical boxes, while also being far superior in terms of their performance and quality. We go beyond what is considered and accepted as natural and organic. The other side to the website is the information and inspiration aspect. I have been extremely fortunate not only to have the ability to be in a constant state of learning and growing but also to travel the world many times over and learn from industry experts, so I love sharing what I have learnt, whether that be via making available the best-of-the-best products that we sell, or via the health and beauty tips, vegan recipes, nutrition notes and interviews with people who inspire the socks off me.

Q: What’s your morning routine?

A: Roll over and snuggle with my adorable husband. He then makes me a drink with cold drip organic coffee and fresh homemade hemp milk (I know… I’m so spoilt, aren’t I!!). We then go for a walk and swim at the beach together. Head home and do a 10 – 20 minute blast on the VersaClimber. A cardio machine that is like climbing a vertical wall. Intense to say the least! Shower. Make breakfast. Have a quick visit to the veggie and herb patch in the garden to say hello to the plants (and check to see that the bandicoot hasn’t dug any holes), and feed the garden worms our scraps from brekky. Then it’s back to the house to get started with work.

Q: With such a busy schedule, how do you stay motivated?

A: It’s as simple as I absolutely love what I do. Wholeheartedly. Not a day has gone by where I don’t count my lucky stars for being able to do what I love, with the most beautiful supportive family and staff I could ever wish for.

Q: What are your favourite beauty ingredients?

A: I love 100% pure plant oils. Nature is perfect as it is. I don’t believe there is any need to mess with it.

Q: If you could only use one beauty product for the rest of your life, what would it be?

A: That’s way too difficult to choose. But… if I had to choose just one, it would have to be our Be Genki Body Oils. I have a bit of a “thing” for skin, and love the feel of soft smooth skin, and the Be genki Body Oils are the key to delivering this. People always comment on how soft and smooth my skin looks and feels, and it’s all because of these Body Oils. With 100% organic ingredients of sunflower, hemp, avocado, rosehip and a blend of organic essential oils, it’s like applying the most luxurious face oil to your body. My point-of-view is that skin care doesn’t finish at the neck. The entire body deserves to be nurtured.

Q: Who’s the greatest influence on you in your life?

A: As I mentioned before I have been extremely fortunate to travel the world, and have numerous people who have been kind and gracious to share their wisdom with me, those who I am eternally grateful for, and who I adore. But the single common thread with all these people is that they encourage me to trust, honour and respect what is true for me, so that it is me who influences everything within my life. I believe that we all have choice irrespective of how it may seem at the time, and that we are all responsible for everything that we create in our life. Nothing happens to us. We create everything – the good, the bad, and the ugly. This is fundamental to setting ourselves free, and to understanding that no-one can affect you or influence you, but you.

Q: Could you tell us about the Vipassana 10-day meditation retreat you went on?

A: That’s a long story. The short version is that the 10-day retreats are amazing, and that it was one of the best things that I did, so much so that I went back again and again. Today’s life is filled so much with busy-ness, that very rarely do we take the time to stop and “be”. To be present. To be mindful. To practice equanimity. To take the time to spend hours just observing and being with nature. To disconnect from the online digital world. To disconnect from our thoughts. To disconnect from everything but the action of breathing in, and breathing out. This is what Vipassana offers, and so much more.

Q: Finally, favourite smoothie?

A: Homemade hemp milk + Peruvian maca + raw cacao + Udo’s 3.6.9 Oil Blend + mucuna + passionflower + chaga + reishi + moringa + gubinge + berries (all organic or wildcrafted).

Check out Sam’s online store, inspirations and Be Genki at http://benaturallyou.com/