Frances Carrington is the brains behind the beautiful Fair Trade brand Eternal Creation. Her dreams have taken her from country Australia to the Himalayan mountains in India to develop an inspiring clothing brand that gives back to the community that houses it.
We recently asked Frances some questions to get a bit more insight into the journey that brought her to where she is today!
When did you decide you wanted to be a designer?
I always loved fabric and did textiles and design in high school. After completing school, I spent 6 months in France, and browsing the amazing designer stores in Paris, I decided I would become a fashion designer.
What made you decide to start Eternal Creation?
After completing fashion school in Sydney, I spent two years working as a volunteer designer at Norbulingka (a centre for preserving Tibetan culture in Dharamsala, North India). Here I taught newly arrived refugees how to make patterns, construct garments and the basic principles of design. It was a wonderful experience, and after this I knew I would create my own business working as a designer in India.
What can you tell us about the brand?
It’s a Fair Trade brand, best known for the use of vibrant prints and colours, and extremely good tailoring. We make everything in house at the Himalaya Tailoring Centre, which we run in Dharamsala, and have trained all the tailors there.
Where do the design inspirations come from?
As a designer, you tend to notice everything that everyone wears, so I get ideas from everyone! I think my use of colour is influenced a lot by India, as is my use of soft cottons. I have my two children, Imogen & Oscar, to thank for the children’s wear collections!
If you had been asked when you graduated where you would end up, could you ever have imagined this is where you would be and what you would be doing?
I never thought I would end up in India! It was actually my dream to work in Africa.
What has been the most rewarding thing about building Eternal Creation?
Seeing people grow into their new roles and take such extreme pride in their work- especially employees that come from incredibly challenging backgrounds.
Building an ethical brand in a far away country and culture must have been quite a challenge – what has been the biggest challenge you have faced on your journey?
Probably the weather in Dharamsala and getting sick! It rains non-stop from the end of June to the end of September, and it’s really challenging, as the infrastructure in Dharamsala is very poor.
Is there anything you miss terribly about Australia?
The quiet and the space! India is always boisterous and noisy. I grew up in the country in Australia, where often all you could hear was the birds. I still miss the sound of them, especially magpies. Fortunately Dharamsala is in the foothills of the Himalayas, so only a short (albeit very steep!) walk to a lot of peace and quiet!
What has been the best thing about living in Dharamsala?
The people and the mountains. There’s a really interesting mix of people- the Dalai Lama, monks & nuns, local Indians, Punjabi’s, Seikhs, Tibetans, Nepalis, and lots of foreigners from all over the world, everyone with their different stories and ideas. Overlooking everyone quietly are these huge and majestic mountains.
The Guiding Principes and conditions your employees work under sound fabulous and attractive – how do you manage to offer such good conditions?
I spend about 9 months of the year working there, so I wouldn’t work in any different conditions myself! It hasn’t always been easy though, as persuading the public to pay a little bit more for Fair Trade is an ongoing uphill battle! Fortunately awareness is growing though thanks to journalists brave enough to expose the horrible working conditions in many garment factories.
Why should we be searching out Eternal Creation for our fashion needs?
Everything is made with pride and love, and I believe this is transmitted to the wearer. Buying our clothes will make you feel good, and will help spread the word about Fair Trade fashion.
What does being a woman mean to you?
I’m not sure if it makes much difference- what’s important as a human is I do the best I can in this life, for myself, my family and for others.
Thank you so much for taking some time out to let us get inside this brilliant brand!