Reet, you've been running three websites on Voog — Up-shirt, UPMADE, and reetaus.com — that’s way more than any other brands that we've had coming on board and we sincerely appreciate your loyalty. How would you describe your Voog experience thus far?
I like the customer service and the platform itself has an overall great vibe. One of the reasons we prefer Voog is that it's a local product — we believe you have to show your support to other local services around you.
How much of an impact do these websites have on building your brand and do they bring customers into your studio as well?
The main goal is to spread information; however, you can't underestimate online marketing campaigns, since we discovered that only a small percentage of site visitors end up converting into customers. We can see the positive effect of staying active on the web — it brings more people into our studio in Telliskivi.
For those who don't know anything about your brand, can you please give a little insight on what Reet Aus is all about?
Our aim is to provide an alternative to massive clothing brands, for people who want to dress ethically and be mindful about the aftermath of mass production. To put it simply, if you can't do it ethically, don't do it at all. We've worked out a method based on the Upcycling production, which makes the most of textile leftovers by redesigning the products and the production process. It leads to a significant reduction of leftover materials and therefore reduces production inefficiencies. One of our biggest achievements has been creating the Upmade certificate and finding our own production lines both in Estonia and Asia.
And how would you describe the current status of Estonian consumers — are they aware of the means of ethical production and recycling?
If I look at our company’s growth in 2017, I would say that people are definitely becoming more aware of sustainable and ethical design. And Jaak Kilmi's documentary called "Out of Fashion" helped send the message — the idea was to offer insight on alternative options to mass production, and I feel like it did the job. People want to know how you produce your products and they value transparency.
We're beginning with a research project in India to map out the phases of ethical production. The idea will be to weed out various unethical and environmentally endangering processes, and thereby understand whether it would be possible to produce 100% ethically.
You have three amazing children, and you've said that spending time with them is pretty much your social life as a whole. How do you find the time to get out with the family and what are your favorite activities?
I wouldn't call my time in the studio spent as working a job, so that eliminates the idea of living a dual life. I'm living one simple life and I enjoy everything that comes with it. The kids often join my daily activities and that’s how we get to spend quite a lot of time together. Just keep in mind to have actual conversations with your family every day, which builds and keeps a certain trust.
What is the key to happiness for you?
I'm mostly happy with my life already — I can work on the projects that interest me and help me evolve as a human being. Somehow the people surrounding me are also helping me achieve happiness, and one should never forget the mental aspect of life, to keep the flame burning...
Finally, where can people find you and your work?
We've opened a shop and showroom at Telliskivi 62, Tallinn. There are also some retailers around — Eesti Disainimaja, Tali, Kaubamaja, Nu Nordic, Roheline Vihmavari in Tallinn and Slow in Tartu; Zündstoff, Kiss the Inuit in Germany and TwiggyDee in Schwitzerland. Don't forget to visit our websites at reetaus.com, upshirt.org and for more information about the Upmade certificate at upmade.org; and come join us on Facebook and Instagram.