Jamie Nelson, Designer & Founder of Nelson Made, On Her Exclusive Collaboration With Maggie Marilyn
Hi Jamie! You spent many years working for other shoe designers before launching Nelson Made. What challenges or red flags did you see in the industry that concerned you? And did those red flags influence your decision to start your own label?
Hi guys! Yes, I spent some very happy years designing shoes for other brands and it seemed like my dream job, but the longer I worked in the industry, the more I found the system to be broken.
We worked in a never-ending cycle, churning out designs and product, then inevitably marking down those products that didn’t move as quickly as we’d hoped. I believe the way most traditional brands are set up today is breaking the fashion industry apart. The model is to chase un-ending financial growth and profit, with no regard for people and the planet.
I started Nelson Made to create a better, more sustainable model. NM is built on a foundation of transparency, sustainability, and ethical manufacturing. We handcraft considered pieces in small quantities to minimize our impact on this beautiful planet.
One of the reasons we loved working with Nelson Made on this range is that our businesses have a lot of the same values. In fact, the reason Maggie Marilyn has never done a shoe collaboration before is that we couldn’t find a brand that shared our commitment to championing sustainable change – until we found you! Talk to us a little about Nelson Made’s core values?
And we are so glad you found us! Working together on this range has been such a breeze because of those shared values.
At Nelson Made we want all the people who are part of our business to feel safe and empowered, from the makers and technicians we work with overseas, to our own Melbourne-based atelier makers, to our family of customers. For us that means championing some key values in every aspect of our business. We follow a responsible production model to care for our makers both in Melbourne and abroad. Our flat sandals are made in our clean energy Melbourne atelier and our more complex styles are made in our family-run, Qualspec-certified factory in China, who I’ve been working with personally for many years. We believe in treating all people on this planet with respect and dignity and are committed to ensuring our working conditions are fair and safe.
Footwear needs to be extremely durable, so materials traditionally used have huge environmental impacts. By contrast, we source innovative new materials that have a lower impact like certified recycled leather, chrome-free leather, organic linen and OEKO TEX certified fabrics.
We have opted for a slow, small batch model and champion a culture of considered buying. Our pieces are designed to be timeless, with an emphasis on quality craftmanship and are less trend based so they last well beyond their season. We often sell out within days or even hours of launch and are not often left with unwanted stock. We don’t go on sale (except to re-home our sales and photoshoot samples at the end of each season). We offer free resizing and repairs for the lifetime of our product and will go out of our way to help our customers extend the life of their pieces for as long as possible.
Let’s talk about the beautiful shoes you’ve created for Maggie Marilyn. What are some of the sustainable elements of the design and production process that you’re most proud of?
We are so proud of this range. The leather pieces are made from recycled leather. Recycled leather is made from certified post-manufacture waste leather collected from tanneries and factories. By diverting these waste materials from landfill, they are able to be recycled into new material that can be used as a virgin leather replacement. By using pre-existing leather, no new chemicals are used in the tanning process, and energy and water usage during production is heavily minimized. Recycled leather can be recycled infinitely too, which makes it circular. Our recycled leather offers the same luxuriously soft and breathable qualities as virgin leather without the environmental impact associated with leather production.
The satin pieces are crafted from locally sourced, OEKO TEX dyed satin. Our printing partners at Next State are accredited by OEKO TEX and Ethical Clothing Australia for their commitment to sustainable printing practices. Next State create custom prints and colors that can be ordered in small batches. Their focus on customization rather than mass production means we can order only the amount of fabric we need for production and eliminate post-production waste that would otherwise go to landfill. And of course, these pieces will be produced according to our key values of responsible, fair production and in extremely limited quantities!
Where are you currently drawing inspiration from? Who or what is inspiring you?
My design inspiration always comes from the women around me. I love thinking of my friends and family and designing the perfect pair of shoes for them. I think about their lifestyles and the way each of them dress to express themselves. What they might be doing on a day-to-day basis, what amazing pieces they are wearing and the pair of shoes that would perfect that look.
And lastly, what are your favourite Maggie Marilyn pieces at the moment?