An Interview with One Another, the Ethical Homewares Company

We live in an age where we have never been so simultaneously connected, and disconnected, from the world around us. We text instead of talking. Watch a screen in lieu of a sunset. Manufacture, rather than make. Advancements in technology have increased the speed, and ease, of many modern day objectives; while at the same time distancing and removing us from a number of basic human needs: interaction, fabrication, touch. As such, our amassment of mass-manufactured commodities have resulted in a rather disaffected society – a society looking for something more from its suppliers; a search for a connection. One Another‘s mission is arguably one of the most emotive connections you’ll come across. Sourcing its handmade products from communities in countries where poverty is very much a reality, its ethical business practices support the artisans in these areas, and rescue many traditional crafts and techniques from extinction. With each piece beautifully unique and full of character, it’s unsurprising that their socially-conscious enterprise has gained such a positive reception. And as a company who supports sustainable design, it’s equally unsurprising that Icon By Design proudly stocks One Another’s products in its stores.

We sat down with Rick Carter, one of the founders of One Another, to learn more about the company’s origins, its quest for equality, and his exciting plans for its future.

1. Describe One Another in three words.
Handmade. Tactile. Transforming.

2. How did you begin your creative career?
I studied advertising in Sydney and then worked as a Graphic Designer both here and in London.
I was also addicted to travelling! It was during my many adventures around the globe that I fell in love with photography and the beauty of being able to capture the different people I met and cultures I experienced. This was well before you could take photos on your phone.
Eventually I went on to study photography before opening my own design and photography business, Studio One Another, in 2006.

3. What inspired you to found One Another, and what aspects of the business continue to inspire you?
It was on an intense but life-changing adventure around India. I was there photographing the work of an amazing organisation, Opportunity International Australia, who provide small loans to women living in poverty so they can start their own business and transform their families future.
It was here in urban slums and rural villages that my wife, Annette, and I were invited in to the homes of all these inspiring women that were using their traditional artisan skills to work their way out of poverty. Meeting these women and hearing their stories is what sparked the initial idea for what became One Another.

4. Why do you think it’s important for your brand to promote sustainability, and support ethical business practices?
Sadly there are over 300 million workers living below the poverty line, and even more frighteningly there are 168 million children in forced labour – many whom work in factories producing western products.
Our experiences in India, coupled with these alarming statistics, we knew we had to do something no matter how small it was.
For us supporting the artisans is the number one reason why we started One Another. Most of our artisans are women as they are typically poorer and have fewer options for earning a livelihood to provide adequate food, housing and education.
We help provide them with safe, stable employment with fair pay, the ability to work from home, should they need to care for their family, and opportunities to train and develop new skills.

5. What advice would you give to those looking to affect social change?
I think it is easy not to do anything, believing that as an individual we may not be able to make any difference. I would urge people to take whatever small steps they can, from not using disposable coffee cups to trying to shop consciously.
As consumers our choices can encourage sustainable and ethical companies while discouraging those companies that ignore the consequences of their actions.

6. Do you think Australia has a unique appreciation for sustainable craft and design?
I think there has been a resurgence and appreciation for handmade.
In today’s world of mass-produced products, people want to know where things are made and buy items that have a story to tell.
You can either own a machine-made, digitally crafted product or something one-of-a-kind that is imperfect, tactile and unique.

7. You work with craftsmen and women in India, Nepal, South Africa, Uganda and Central America – what’s the process of finding and engaging these traditional artisans?
It took sometime to find the right collectives to partner with. We have been working with our team in India since we launched in 2013. The workshop supports 15 women and 4 men. They work 5 days a week, which is quite unusual for India, and on top of fair pay and safe working conditions it encourages training and creates a place for the women to support each other.
Unlike India, the 5 women we partner with in South Africa work from their homes so that they can still care for their children.
All our textiles are produced in either India or South Africa and each carries the signature of the embroiderer or weaver who made it.
This year we launched ceramics and have partnered with a 25 year old family run pottery workshop in Nepal, that supports 12 artisans.
When I shoot the look book it is exciting to see all the pieces from the different countries come together as one.

8. What has been a favourite project to date?
After mainly producing textiles it was exciting to work with the pottery workshop in Nepal and produce our first range of ceramics.

9. What can we expect from One Another in the near future?
We are actually about to start working on a collaboration with a collective of local artists, we are in the very early stages but the designs will be very different to what we have previously done and the story behind it is amazing. Stay tuned…

10. As a proud stockist of One Another, we love styling your beautiful products with our furniture – do you have a favourite piece of ours?
I love the slim curved lines of the Franz Armchair, it has a mid-century vibe that makes it classic yet modern. It’s also perfect for a hero cushion!

The Franz Armchairs – accessorised with One Another’s Mid Mod Grey Cushion