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FoxtrotFeature

Organic, ethically made tees are the bee’s knees

HerCanberra Team

Jason Tolmie (AKA Foxtrot) leads a double life. By day the busy Canberra father of two is a psychology teacher and a year advisor; by night he’s busy making art or music.

“I love my job,” he says assuringly.

“I love teaching psychology and helping students, but I’m an inherently creative person and I really need that outlet too.”

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Jason’s latest venture, Foxtrot Threads, brings his artworks to life on the wearable canvas that is the humble t-shirt. Launching his Kickstarter campaign on 4 May, Jason is hoping to raise enough funds to print the first three designs, in what will eventually be a suite of organic, ethically manufactured t-shirts for children featuring Foxtrot art.

The Foxtrot Threads Kickstarter is structured as a pre-sale where you pledge your support and receive a kid’s t‑shirt (or two!) as your reward if the campaign reaches its target. Bigger pledges will get bigger rewards.

“Doing a Kickstarter is the safest way to raise the funds to start a business,” he explains. “I’ve got a family to support and we just can’t afford the initial capital or the risk. Kickstarter campaigns also foster a fantastic sense of community and support when you’re just starting out—people feel like they’ve been involved right from the beginning and really feel like they’re invested in the outcome.”

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Jason is really into nature, history, animals and anthropomorphism, music and pop art and all these themes influence the designs he makes. Foxtrot Threads was initially inspired by his sister, Lauren Harris, owner of Tadah Patterns.

“Lauren has been telling me for ages that she loves my art and that it would look great on kids t‑shirts,” he laughs.

Ultimately, Jason is aiming for Foxtrot Threads to provide unique, boutique, quality children’s clothing that is stylish, comfortable and a little bit out of the ordinary. However, when he started doing some initial research into the industry he realised there was a need for greater awareness and availability of ethically and sustainably manufactured garments. Jason believes the textiles industry has to start acting a lot more responsibly.

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“Every purchasing choice can make a difference,” he enthuses. “I’m committed to genuine sustainability and healthy work practices.”

The Foxtrot Threads mission is comprised of two aims: providing really special clothes featuring interesting and unique designs, and contributing to positive change in worldwide working conditions and manufacturing practices in the textiles industry. All Foxtrot Threads t-shirts will be ethically manufactured and made with organic cotton.

The garment suppliers Jason has chosen are recognised by the Fairwear Foundation (an independent, non-profit organisation that works with companies and factories to improve labour conditions for textile and garment workers) and the Global Organic Textile Standard (the world’s leading processing standard for textiles made from organic fibres). Organic cotton is grown without GM seeds, without harmful and polluting pesticides and fertilisers, with better water management practices. Organic production preserves the soil, while conventional cotton production destroys it.

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Jason, originally from Sydney, now loves living in Canberra.

“It’s a beautiful little city full of big skies, open spaces and lots of creativity,” he smiles. “It’s a great place for raising children, where they can really grow and thrive, and I also love how Canberra connects us so closely with nature.”

He’s noticed how over the past 5 or 6 years the Canberra creative community has really exploded and the city is starting to develop a unique culture that is vibrant and exciting. In fact, Jason learned how to transform his hand-drawn artworks into digital creations suitable for printing onto garments by taking an Adobe Illustrator course with local Canberra creative, Mikaela Danvers, founder of The Makers Collective.

It’s a big dream for someone who has only recently considered venturing down the entrepreneurial path, but Jason is seriously passionate about what he’s doing and what he hopes to achieve.

“I’m hoping Foxtrot Threads will bring people joy, humour, a sense of wonder, and good memories,” he says. “I still think back to clothes I owned as a kid and I love the way they have become symbols representing times in my life. They helped shaped my emerging identity and made me feel comfortable and free.”

the essentials

What: Foxtrot Threads Kickstarter campaign
When: Until 31 May 2015
How much: Pledges start at $1 but $30 and over will get you a kid’s t-shirt (or more)
Web: Find the Foxtrot Thread Kickstarter campaign

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