Linda Vydra is the inspirational mind behind the Melbourne based Lydra fashion accessories brand. Lydra is an environmentally and socially conscious brand which values the skills of the senior generation and the sustainability of recycled materials.
We asked Linda to share a little about herself and her brand with us in this recent interview.
B&L: What can you tell us about Lydra?
Linda: I started Lydra in 2009, possibly by accident and it has just grown from there. I stumbled upon a beautiful piece of fabric that was too nice to throw away but too small to make a garment out of. So I decided to make a purse out of it and I posted the pictures on Facebook.
Before I knew it friends were purchasing them and now I’m currently stocked in 7 shops across Australia. The idea behind the range is using preloved fabrics such as old dresses, tablecloths, pillowcases, interior remnants and turning them into something lovable again. Each product is one-of-a-kind and comes with it’s own name and description. Take a look at the range at www.lydra.com.au
B&L: I understand you have only recently embarked on this career path, what made you change direction?
Linda: I guess for me I have come from an advertising background, having studied and worked in the industry. I found working in the industry to be rather monotonous and I wanted to do something that pursued my passion for both sustainability and being creative.
So I went back to study Fashion Design at RMIT (which I finished last year). I guess I’m chasing to have a career that I love day in and day out. I learnt pretty quickly that having a job that you don’t enjoy leaves you feeling pretty empty.
B&L: Where do you source your fabrics for the Lydra pieces?
Linda: Lydra pieces are made from preloved fabrics such as old tablecloths, dresses and upholstery fabrics. The new leather range is up-cycled from old leather jackets. Fabrics are sourced from OP shops, other fashion designers and donations.
B&L: With each piece being one of a kind, and hand crafted, how long does it take to create a collection?
Linda: Designing the recent collection took a couple of weeks. Unlike mass-produced products that are made in bulk overseas to receive the cost benefits, Lydra products are made throughout the year with fresh new fabrics always coming through.
B&L: Your crafts-people are senior citizens, ensuring that their skills are ultilised much longer than they otherwise might, what can you tell us about how you find your new employees?
Linda: To find interested sewers I approached various community groups, seniors clubs and the University of the 3rd Age helped out in promoting amongst their members. It’s great to see how supportive the community has been in spreading the word!
B&L: What benefits do you think Lydra has gained from employing genuine nannas to make Lydra clutches and purses?
Linda: The idea of employing mature aged ladies not only promotes their craftsmanship but also allows the customers to make a connection with the maker.
Lydra is providing a transparent supply chain and I am also in the process in becoming Ethical Accredited for fair wages and decent working conditions.
B&L: Lydra is all for sustainable living, how are your business choices helping the environment?
Linda: Being environmental involves thinking outside the square and always trying to use the best resources for the task at hand. Lydra not only provides products that are re-manufactured from materials that would otherwise go to waste but also educates people about the importance of making informed decisions.
B&L: There is a new range, what can we expect from this?
Linda: I’m very excited to be launching the new range. I have incorporated leather into the new range with a mixture of vintage upholstery and geometric fabrics. The signature piece is a timber clutch that is custom made from bamboo ply. I can’t wait to see people using them.
B&L: What is your next goal for Lydra?
Linda: Lydra aims to continue offering more opportunities by employing nannas to make the range and increasing the retailers onboard. My mission is show people that you can manufacture locally and have a successful business.
B&L: How would you describe the most important moment for you since launching Lydra?
Linda: I have been fortunate enough to be successful in a couple of business plan competitions. In 2009 I won the Portmans Fashion and Textile Prize $5000 from the RMIT Business Plan competition. As well as last year I received the title of Student Entrepreneur of Australia for the GSEA competition and was flown to Kansas City to compete against 30 student finalist from around the world.
It was a humbling experience and opened my eyes to amazing business and people from around the world.
B&L: What does being a woman mean to you?
Linda: I think the world is in need of more women entrepreneurs. Women need to be confident in themselves and be a bit bolder in pushing themselves.
In a rapidly changing society it’s important to have women leaders who are nurturing and have a kind nature. Although to be honest I don’t really see it as something I consider, as society offers great equal opportunity now and it’s really just a matter of having the motivation to accomplish your goals.