Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a Fashion Revolution event in downtown Miami! I barely walked through the door before feeling the passion oozing from each and every person working the event. From sustainable makers to local bloggers and fashion lovers, every person on the spectrum of sustainable and ethical fashion was represented.
One special connection I made was with the co-owner of the sustainable and ethical brand, The Onikas! After chatting about her brand and obsessing over the rich fabrics and prints on display, I mustered up the courage to ask her if she would be interested in being featured on Flora & Honey—and she excitedly obliged!
That being said, I'm so happy to introduce co-owner of The Onikas, Veronica! Read on to hear more about her brand, how she guarantees ethical and sustainable practices among supply chains, and how to remain passionate with her favorite self-care practices!
How did The Onikas start?
My partner and I met in high school. We were the artsy girls with rhyming names (Veronica + Jonnyka = Onikas) who always knew we wanted to create something together. After a trip to India three years ago—where I learned to block-print fabric by hand—I returned to the states and Onikas was born! We decided to design and produce our own line of textiles, making soft, wearable pieces that we wanted in our own wardrobes.
How do you ensure that your supply chain(s) are ethical and sustainable?
we go directly to the workshop and collaborate with the weavers each season.
In Ecuador where we handloom our knits, we go directly to the workshop and collaborate with the weavers each season. It’s run by a courageous 72-year-old woman and her daughter. Together, we make all the design choices as a team. It’s a partnership, and even my family in Ecuador help with logistics, sourcing and producing our hang tags and videos. It’s a grass roots family affair from start to finish.
we work with a printing workshop that pays their artisans more than is required.
In India, we work with a printing workshop that pays their artisans more than is required, and employs generations of men. Fathers and sons work side by side—it’s beautiful. It is a happy place where we work alongside them drinking chai and trying to communicate. Women make the chai and sew the samples in their gorgeous saris and big smiles. We know the working conditions there are ethical because we actually work there ourselves while in India. We also have a zero-waste initiative making necklaces and tassels from all the leftover fabric.
I love that The Onikas refuses to waste ANYTHING! The necklaces that are made with leftover fabrics are so unique—what inspired this fashion statement? What other ways do you repurpose fabrics?
We were in the workshop in India after a long and hot morning, and literally started braiding all the fabric around us into these gorgeous necklaces! We take any fabric leftovers and make them into something else. I can honestly say NOTHING is wasted on our end. We have two clever seamstresses that can re-work most styles into something fabulous. These textiles are made with love and care, and they are meant to be enjoyed and never discarded!
How are the fabrics, patterns, and styles/fits chosen?
We design all the prints ourselves in our Miami and Austin studios. They start from a concept—all our prints have meanings attached to them. Barn swallows are symbols of hope and protection. Moon phases represent the ever changing nature of life. We love vintage, and many of our styles are re-worked vintage pieces that we hunt for and cherish. We work with a pattern maker to turn something old into an improved and better fitting garment.
"All our prints have meanings attached to them. Moon phases represent the
Who or what inspires the brand’s stylistic direction?
We are a team in every sense of the word, we finish each other’s sentences and are constantly exchanging ideas via text and Instagram. We think long and hard about how to produce capsule collections—the items that are versatile, that really make an outfit, and have multiple uses. Our cotton is the absolute softest to the touch and our customers have been known to wear their garments to dinner, to bed, and through the next morning to run errands! We design for them: stylish women who don’t really need to follow fads, but want to feel good and shrouded in meaning. We believe living a whole life is reflected in the choices one makes, including what you wear.
Who or what inspires YOU as a female business owner?
My two daughters are a constant inspiration to show up and make a difference. As a single mom, I am the biggest advocate of women-owned businesses. I try to only buy and support other women. There is strength in numbers, and seeing young and old women thrive in all fields, of all ages, from Beyoncé to Emma Gonzalez is where it’s at for me.
How did you get involved with Fashion Revolution?
I was asked to be on a panel last year and was fortunate enough to meet one of the founders and listen to her inspirational story. It’s amazing to see how this movement has spread, and I am honored to be a part of this global shift away from fast-fashion.
At the Fashion Revolution event, you mentioned loving the “How I Built This” Podcast featuring Eileen Fischer. What are a few other resources that inspire you and keep you grounded/driven in the world of fashion and sustainability?
That podcast is wonderful. Also great, is the How I Built This interview with the owner of Patagonia. I have a regular yoga practice and am lucky to call many healers friends. Self-care is big, even if it means getting to a class, or spending one hour on the beach, or an extra thirty-minutes cuddling your dog. Also, a community of like-minded women is key for me. The energizing yin to my yang of personal self-care.
The louder the slow-fashion and sustainability movement becomes, the more brands are paying attention to the ethics behind fashion. What sets The Onikas apart from the rest?
We don’t go to a manufacturer and choose prints, we design them from beginning to end. They all start from drawings. The entire process is by hand—no machines are used, except in the sewing of the garments.
What is the “Why?” behind The Onikas?
The commitment to keeping artisan traditions alive in a world of mass produced goods is what drives us forward. The appalling amount of waste that fast-fashion accrues is sad—there is no substance, as things are meant to be tossed after a couple wears. We like to infuse meaning into the garments you buy or gift. For example, my favorite scarf from the new line was inspired by a Buddhist concept: "No mud, no Lotus." From our most difficult times comes the light and the wisdom. The scarf has a brown flower (the mud) printed on a beautiful turquoise cotton (the flower). You are literally wearing this beautiful truth on your body, that is our “why!”
If you could encourage the Flora & Honey readers of one thing regarding sustainability/ethical living, what would it be?
Use your wallet as an agent of change. Shop local, and when possible, support women owned business of all kinds. Use Amazon Prime less and seek out independent brands. They really appreciate your support.