Australian label Seljak Brand is proof that there’s truth in the maxim ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’.
Founded by sisters Samantha and Karina Seljak in early 2016, Seljak Brand makes recycled wool blankets using offcuts from the factory floor of Australia’s oldest weaving mill in Tasmania.
The pair decided to start a business after coming across the circular economy concept—where a product is used for as long as possible and then regenerated at the end of its life, rather than being thrown away—and becoming obsessed with using waste as a resource.
“We were super excited when we found the mill in Tasmania (we basically stumbled across it on a trip to Panama Festival) who used the offcuts from the factory floor to make new yarn,” explains Samantha Seljak.
“That, coupled with a desire to use an Australian resource like wool, led to the idea of blankets. It just made sense. We worked with the mill to develop the closed loop model and they’ve been our manufacturing partner ever since.”
The sisters aim to ‘close the loop’ with their products by providing a collection scheme for old blankets, which are then reincorporated into the manufacturing process in the same way the offcuts are shredded and spun into new yarn.
“We believe in a world without waste. At the core of Seljak Brand is the desire for a paradigm shift from the take-make-waste model towards circular systems.
“We want to create products that challenge the existing method of manufacturing and create social and environmental change.”
They also believe in giving back and for every 10 blankets sold the pair donate one to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Victoria.
However, feel good vibes aren’t enough to sustain a homewares business—the products also need to be high-quality and look great. Luckily, Seljak Brand ticks all the boxes.
Karina is trained in fashion design and draws on this experience when designing Seljak’s ranges. The pair also collaborated with textile designer Ana Diaz to develop their current colourways pine, earth and indigo.
“Ana’s advice is invaluable as she has incredible experience and has that crucial outside perspective,” says Seljak.
“Together we are inspired by all sorts of things, whether it’s just a moment in time or something specific, like somehow paying homage to the heritage of textiles, or something that’s inspired us as we continue to explore the world every day.”
For the Seljak sisters, the war on waste doesn’t end with beautiful blankets. They are committed to producing products that help people adopt more sustainable lifestyles.
“We’re continuing to search for ways to turn waste into a resource and, from there, develop beautiful products. It’s hard to pull off but we have some fantastic concepts we’re trialling and we’re meeting many wonderful people who are part of our journey.”
By Ruth Cooper