By Danielle Kutchel
As the fashion industry speeds up, one Berwick designer is slowing it all down.
At the age of just 21, Christina Hewawissa has created and launched her own ethical and sustainable fashion label, Rosa Rosa The Label. Combatting the consumerism that dominates shopping malls, Rosa Rosa is all about making more sustainable fashion choices, using fabrics and practices that don’t cost the earth.
After accelerating her university degree, Ms Hewawissa landed a job with another brand where she quickly gained hands-on experience in every aspect of running a fashion business – but she wasn’t happy.
“The way that they worked was super unsustainable,” she explains.
Feeling guilty for pressuring offshore workers to meet unrealistic deadlines, and for contributing to serious environmental harm and endangering animals due to the fabrications being used, she quit and decided to go out on her own, using a brand template she had developed during her time at Billy Blue College of Design.
Six months in, the business is growing and Ms Hewawissa is confident she made the right decision.
She still lives at home, working from her parents’ garage, which has allowed her to invest everything in her business without the worry of meeting mortgage payments.
Owning her own label was always a dream – but she didn’t expect it to happen so soon.
“I definitely didn’t think I’d be this young. But the opportunity came up!” she laughs.
Rosa Rosa was officially launched in March and the second collection dropped in early June. The clothes are made in Melbourne and are 100 per cent vegan. Ms Hewawissa, who designs every piece, says the label is quirky and fun and based on things she enjoys wearing rather than being a slave to trends.
As well as being available online, Ms Hewawissa has secured a spot in Design A Space, a Fitzroy store showcasing independent Australian designers.
Now, she is gearing up for an appearance at Brisbane Fashion Week in August, a city with a growing interest in sustainable fashion, where she will launch her new season collection.
“I’m excited for that because with Spring, you can play with it more, it’s more fun.
“I’ve put in so many hours on these and some days are easy, some days are just unbelievably hard. I haven’t really fully enjoyed my brand because I’ve been working so hard on it, but I think I’ll be happy at Fashion Week because I will be able to step back and relax and look at it all come together.”
She’s also keen to connect with her Brisbane customer base and with other designers, and use the opportunity to increase her brand’s recognition.
As a one-woman-show, Ms Hewawissa wants her brand to grow organically.
She has her eye on expanding her range in the future once she has established a loyal customer base – into menswear, children’s wear and perhaps a range of sustainable shampoos and body scrubs.
“It’s slowly evolving and I think that if you put pressure on it it’s going to be really restricting and it’s going to hurt it,” she says.
Ms Hewawissa credits her steady approach to her mother, who encouraged her to pursue her dreams and be happy.
“My mum showed me that everything can be done no matter what you go through – not from a fashion point of view or business or anything, but no matter what you go through you can get it done if you want to get it done.”