GROWING up on the Hunter River, lending a hand in her family’s commercial fishing business, Amanda Hyde was quickly immersed in all things environmental.
“I was a deckhand on the prawn trawler and we just had smaller and smaller catches year after year and it led me to think about what’s happening in the environment and the impacts we have locally and globally,” says Ms Hyde.
After completing an environmental science degree at the University of Newcastle, Ms Hyde worked in natural resource management for the Department of Fisheries and then in emergency management.
A chance conversation with a friend, however, led her to take leave to research and recently launch her first retail business, Hyde & Silk.
Located in High Street, Maitland, the shop stocks only fair trade and ethically sourced products from local and global suppliers.
“It follows on from my ethos of ethical and fair trade and having a minimal impact on the environment is important to me,” she says.
The business pursuit was developed when Ms Hyde was asked by a friend where she shopped “locally”.
“I replied, ‘I don’t’, because I like to always buy something a bit different when I travel,” she recalls. “I then thought if I open a shop with clothes that I like and want to wear then surely others have the same interests.”
Hyde & Silk – the silk is a reference to the fact all customers are given a silk bag with a purchase – stocks accessories, homewares and clothing in retro, boho and casual styles, including popular local brands that are made in ethical workshops in India, Thailand and Nepal.
“I am passionate about fair trade and ethically producted fashion as opposed to the recent increase in ‘fast fashion’ – cheap, mass produced and poor quality clothing that only lasts a season at most,” she says.
“The term ‘fast fashion’ implies that it is ok to throw away the item after wearing it only a few times but it is not ok and I hope to inspire shoppers to make responsible purchases that help others less fortunate while reducing waste.”
One of the brands she stocks is Happy Trunks harem pants, with each purchase of a pair assisting the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai Province in Northern Thailand.
“People can often not realise the impact of their purchase, but I call it ethical consumerism – it’s value adding when you can help a community through buying your everyday items,” she says. “I want people to know that by purchasing anything here it really does value add to the community it came from, they are not big companies I support, they are very small communities.”