When it comes to my sleep wardrobe, a pair of worn-in cotton jammies is about as luxe as it gets. If there's one brand that might just convince me to overhaul my bedtime style, it's Eva Power's The Ethical Silk Company.
Power founded the Ireland/New York-based business in a bid to produce and sell silk pieces that were both elegant and ethical. Silk was engrained in Power's early childhood memories – as her mother and grandmother were advocates for sleeping on silk pillowcases to reap the beauty benefits. However, when Power investigated the ins and outs of silk production, she was horrified to learn about the process involved.
"When I had the idea to produce silk pillowcases, I started researching and saw how regular silk was made by boiling the silkworms alive inside their cocoons," she told IMAGE. "Wanting an alternative to this, I found out about ahimsa silk and found my supplier. It has more of a matte finish compared to the shiny finish of traditional silk and I fell in love with it immediately and have worked exclusively with it ever since."
The Ethical Silk Company pieces, which include silk eye masks, pillow cases, sleepwear and scarves, are now tailored and printed by hand at Mehera Shaw, a Fairtrade tailoring unit in Jaipur, India.
A decade after launching the company, Power explains how she transformed the brand from initial concept to a Vogue-approved purveyor of stylish, sustainable silk.
You’ve said your mother and grandmother were advocates for sleeping on silk – do you know where this stemmed from?
I think it was the done thing for my grandmother’s generation to set your hair, put it in rollers and tie a silk scarf around it while in the house. My mum said that as teenagers, she and her friends would rub their hair with a silk scarf after they blowdried it to make it shinier. I suppose that, as they didn’t wash their hair as frequently as many ladies do now, they wanted to maintain its condition for as long as possible after a blow-dry.
What career path did you consider before deciding to set up The Ethical Silk Company?
I previously worked as a craniosacral therapist, treating both adults and babies. As The Ethical Silk Company grew, it meant I had to make the call and finished up practising craniosacral, but it is something that I would like to go back to one day. It’s a gentle but extremely effective therapy that I thoroughly enjoyed, especially seeing the fantastic results it had.
How long does it take to produce the average piece?
From the start of the silk production, it takes approximately 120 days for a production run. This can be longer during monsoon and holiday times in India, so we try to schedule carefully to avoid delays.
It’s ten years since you founded The Ethical Silk Co – what was your biggest learning curve?
Managing the financials. I’m not business trained and there are a lot of balls to keep in the air, plus hidden expenses at every turn.
What is something you know now that you wish you could tell yourself in 2009?
To have more confidence in myself and the business.
Your business is based between Dublin and New York, and the factory is in India. What does that look like? Do you have to fly back and forth a lot?
I have a really good team in NY and as communication is so easy, I don’t have to travel too often. Initially, I travelled to India quite a bit, especially when trialling new suppliers and tailors, as I needed to assess their infrastructure and production units. I’ve been working with the same tailoring unit since 2015 and we maintain close communication, so I only visit once a year. I’d like to go more but with a young family, it is hard to get away.
What is the message you wish to deliver through The Ethical Silk Company?
That luxury and ethics can go hand in hand.
What’s next for The Ethical Silk Company?
We’ve recently started developing the corporate side of the business: corporate gifting, bespoke orders, etc. so I’m excited about growing that avenue. Our new collection, the Kochi sleepwear collection, is coming soon and I can’t wait to showcase that.
What does luxury mean to you?
Good design, high-quality fabric and production, made without exploitation.