A couple of weeks ago, Able2Online founder Dee Peters went into a store to buy a plain T-shirt. She wanted to know where the shirt was produced and what the fabric was made from, but the shop assistant had no idea.
It’s experiences like this that Peters and her business partner, Kerry Hodge, want to avoid with their new online store Able2Online – an online shop for ethical brands, where style and ethical production methods don’t automatically cancel each other out.
The online marketplace is a hub for sustainable apparel, homewares, and health and beauty products. It stocks stylish, reusable bags by Brooklyn-based Baggu; plastic-free linen scrunchies by Aussie label Remy; sleek, minimal handmade necklaces and earrings by jewellery label Soko; books from independent slow lifestyle company Kinfolk; unisex vegan skincare and haircare by Alder New York and more.
Peters and Hodge say they want to make informed choices about their purchases without compromising on personal taste. They’ve been friends for 25 years, and eventually their shared interest in ethical consumption turned into a business plan. Able2Online launched in November last year.
Peters says individuals have the power to create a more sustainable economy if we start thinking critically about what we buy and where it comes from; we can buy only what aligns with our personal environmental values.
“A lot of change in the sustainability space will come from people thinking differently and coming at it from a grassroots level, and that will filter through," Peters tells Broadsheet.
There’s no specific criteria for labels to be stocked on the website. Some are selected for their fair-wage advocacy, others for being vegan-friendly. You can read a short description about each brand’s philosophy and production ethos on the Able2Online website.
Heretic Parfum is a line of natural, gender-neutral handcrafted scents. “There’s absolutely no synthetics – no crap goes into the perfume. It's just pure scent,” says Peters. The perfumes, which include Dirty Rose (lemon, pepper, bergamot, geranium, clove and blackcurrent) and Smudge (cedar, frankincense, Sichuan pepper, juniper and sandalwood), are made with essential oils and plant extracts.
And Kayu Bags works with cooperatives and artisans in Southeast Asia to make printed and woven eco-friendly bags. It’s run by an all-women team and provides fair wages for the women who make the bags. Kayu employs women in the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia, and migrants in the San Francisco Bay area.
“People can actually see what [each brand’s] core thinking is, what their thing is. And then people can make a call about whether that aligns with their own thinking,” says Peters. “It’s about getting people to shift their behaviours, not by telling them what not to do, but by giving people alternatives.”
And it’s not just the products on the site that are sustainable. Peters and Hodge use Sendle – a 100 per cent carbon-neutral delivery service that ensures packaging and postage is as sustainable as the products being purchased – to deliver packages around the country.