Where Does It Come From? Ipswich clothing firm takes an ethical approach to fashion

Jo Salter of Where Does It Come From? with her new collection of animal print Fairtrade scarves.

Jo Salter of Where Does It Come From? with her new collection of animal print Fairtrade scarves. - Credit: Su Anderson

Reindeer and robins are among the creatures more readily associated with Christmas – but what about ants?

Just ask Ipswich businesswoman Jo Salter, who launched her ethically-sourced clothing company Where Does It Come From? 18 months ago and introduced a new collection of printed scarves featuring animals ahead of the current Christmas shopping season.

The range of designs includes elephants and tigers, tortoises and moose, but it is an ant pattern which is currently proving the biggest hit.

Jo, who is based in Warrington Road, Ipswich, started out by offering children’s clothing in cotton and denim after coming up with the initial idea of sourcing clothing direct from individual makers in developing countries.

In an era in which clothing is sourced by major retailers from all over the world – sometimes resulting in controversy over pay and working conditions – Jo decided to try offering an alternative in which ethically-minded shoppers could have more confidence.

In this she appears to have touched a nerve with many people and demand has built steadily, initially from individual customers but now with some commercial buyers showing an interest.

“I have just had my first wholesale order and I hope to get more,” she said. “And it has already been a nice Christmas.

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“We have a new shirt and scarf collection, which is going well. One turquoise scarf design, with ants on it, is proving very popular and nearly sold out.”

There are now 15 different scarf designs. “Everything is Fairtrade and traceable so that the customer can use the code on the label to find out their garment’s story – right back to the cotton field,” said Jo.

“We have four different collections including organic children’s shirts, launched in November, which are popular. We are already to new designs and products for next year, including a range of adult shirts.”

Jo is looking into the possibility of using crowd funding to bring the planned range of adult shirts to market. “We are still working on the designs, but we expect them to be plain,” she said.

All Where Does It Come From? products can be traced directly to the individual makers in India, and Jo is hoping to add producers in Bangladesh as well next year.

“It has been a amazing 18 months,” she added. “I am now selling in the Fair Trade Shop, in Upper Brook Street, Ipswich, which is really great. They are lovely people.

“It is such a lovely shop with so many wonderful products. I went in the other day and spent £40. I bought bamboo socks, and they have recycled elephant poo writing paper – it really has been through an elephant. My children love the dried fruits; they are great for their packed lunches.”

Where Does It Come From? is a member of the EADT/EDP Green 100 listing, which showcases businesses in Suffolk and Norfolk which are making their mark in sustainability.

For futher details on the Where Does It Come From? range, visit www.wheredoesitcomefrom.co.uk .