A business is considered “ethical” if it prioritises social impact in its everyday decisions. Often, products are made and distributed with a minimal environmental footprint, and with workers’ rights ensured along the supply chain. Some are also certified social enterprises that donate at least 50 per cent of their profits to charity, generate employment for marginalised communities, or deliver accessible products and services to meet community needs. Quite a few ethical ventures have made their homes in Brunswick and surrounds, offering plenty of opportunities for more conscious consumption and gifts that give twice.
Clothing the Gaps – 744 Sydney Road, Brunswick
Clothing the Gaps shop on Sydney Road. Source: Author
It’s hard to believe First Nations streetwear label Clothing the Gaps has only been around since 2018. In that time, they’ve opened a shop on Sydney Road, been on TV, won awards, mounted the successful Free The Flag campaign, and sold a t-shirt to at least one person you know. Customers come from all over the country to check out their iconic “merch with a message”, and leave proudly donning “Always Was, Always Will Be” on their chests. Founded by health professionals, the clothing brand is now a social enterprise that funds the Clothing the Gaps Foundation, promoting health initiatives in Aboriginal communities.
Second Stitch – 1/377 Sydney Rd, Coburg
Second Stitch’s production team. Source: Second Stitch Instagram
Further up the road is another social enterprise called Second Stitch, staffed by seamstresses of migrant, refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds. Their colourful, patterned face masks cheered up our streets over lockdowns. They also hand make picnic essentials, homewares, bumbags, accessories, baby products, custom designs, and they offer alterations. When the zip on your shorts gets caught for the final time, it really takes the sting out to know every repair generates money for a good business. Mending damaged clothes is also much better for the environment than binning and replacing them, so win win.
Etiko – 536 Sydney Road, Brunswick
Etiko shop on Sydney Road. Source: Author
This certified B Corporation, Fair Trade and Social Traders Certified company sells head to toe apparel for kids and adults. Founded in 2005, Etiko was an early champion of human rights within traditionally exploitative fashion industry supply chains. They’ve got you covered for comfortable basics, printed tees, organic cotton underwear and everyday footwear, some vegan. Here’s a tip: take back your worn out Etiko shoes to their Sydney Road store and staff will give you a gift voucher for recycling them.
Go Kindly – 520B Sydney Road, Coburg
Go Kindly Team. Source: Go Kindly Instagram
Go Kindly is a bedding goods store and social enterprise that donates half of its profits to support women experiencing homelessness and housing stress. Its allergy-friendly pillows, mattresses and quilts are made to last in Melbourne, and delivered with minimal packaging. Students, pensioners and low-income earners can even grab a 25 per cent discount. Sleep easier knowing your dollars are helping women who need it sleep better too!
Ceres – Corner of Roberts St and Stewart St, Brunswick East
CERES, a beacon for ethical businesses. Source: Author
Ceres Community Environment Park has been helping to regenerate plant and animal life along the Merri Creek since 1982, and rekindle urban dwellers’ love for nature in the process. A number of social enterprises now operate under the Ceres umbrella. Fair Food delivers organic groceries, sourced from over 150 farmers and ethical grocery makers. Fair Wood supplies sustainably sourced and salvaged timbers. Ceres’ in-house cafe, bakery, grocer, plant nursery and market gardens also reinvest profits into their environmental educational programs and maintain the financial independence of the whole establishment.