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PANGAIA x We Are Hairy People

We’re teaming up with Bristol-based artist collective We Are Hairy People (WAHP) to raise awareness around the importance of mindful consumption, through our very first upcycling initiative.

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Why Upcycling is Important

The industry problem? Unsold products going to waste and ending up in landfill. Our solution? Upcycling in a fun, unique way to extend the life of our products. That’s why we partnered with WAHP to bring you a custom-made capsule that gives old products a new life, featuring forest and ocean animals hand-painted on previous PANGAIA styles.

We asked WAHP Founder Sarah a few questions, to find out a bit more about her passion, work and the partnership.

Why did WAHP choose to partner with PANGAIA?
Pangaia is to us such an amazing initiative—we reached out because of the beauty of the garments and harmony with nature, knowing we would have a shared goal of looking after the earth well while making quality pieces! 

What does upcycling mean to you at WAHP?
Upcycling means preventing items from unnecessarily going to landfill, knowing that there’s a hidden life waiting to be reborn if we just give it the openness, time and creativity it needs to come back to life!  We want to show that clothes are made to last and can have a life storyi, newborn is not the only valuable phase. Reusing is the most sustainable option and brings new possibilities.

What is the meaning of art in the time of a pandemic?
It’s been so valuable to have shared a creative outlet this year, to provide our audience with a way of looking at what we already have in a new way, alongside sharing inspiration to make those items more joyful and more YOU by combining it with art. Creative outlets are such a rich and powerful resource for connecting with ourselves, connecting our nature and connecting with each other, particularly through challenges such as isolation and fear, which are hard to express, work through and talk about.  When you can wear the art that you’ve created yourself, or that was made for you, you can regularly look at it and remember that connection.

What is your favorite thing about what you do at WAHP?
I started painting on clothes about 10 years ago—it wasn’t very common back then, and I was doing it by myself—so the best thing to have grown out of this is definitely the community studio, having a place we can all flexibly work and support each other is very valuable ... as well as having a few very select eco-friendly partners such as PANGAIA to inspire and fuel us! We’re so honoured that PANGAIA trusted us to put paint all over their exquisite items, and can’t wait to see where our friendship takes us next!

What has been the most rewarding moment of your journey so far?
As the founder of WAHP, I started the brand with no business education, no fashion education, no sustainability education, no money, and no idea what it would look or be like to create a social enterprise. I also have other mental, social and neurological challenges. Over the last 8 years, I’ve tried and tested everything, and honestly, a lot has failed. When I started, there was no market for hand painted clothing really at all. I tried selling through ASOS marketplace, Topshop, Urban Outfitters, the Clothes Show Live, American Apparel, ASOS, various festivals, Etsy events and so on... learning exactly how they all work and why we don’t fit, and that learning was definitely done the hard way. For a long time I offered everything I had to provide a creative space for people to come and paint. I’ve given pretty much everything of myself to find something that works and serves others and our planet. After signing a contract for an art studio last year, which was my last ditch attempt, without the funding at all I said ‘I have to try one more time to make my dream happen, and when it fails again, I can give up.’ This is the first year that things picked and I’ve been able to give a supportive creative space, to a wonderful loving team of women, alongside actual wages for them and myself... the first year.. after 7 years of just not doing so. I feel like the universe is finally valuing my dream and passion of supporting mental health with art and sustainability, and that is the most rewarding thing I can think of.

Meet the Artists:  The WAHP team is made up of freelance, individual artists who work according to their own individual physical and mental needs, but who try to be there for each other at a communal art studio.

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‘Boss Friend’ Sarah

Sarah’s the boss—she owns the business, manages jobs, and generally steers the ship. Most of the designs in-store are designed and made by Sarah, who paints most of your orders, with the help of the hairy team who are training and growing continuously. Custom orders are also organised by Sarah who can select the strongest artist for each custom painting job, as she helps build their craft, skills and strengths.

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‘Angel Wings’ Meg
As saintly as they come, Meg is our peace bringer. Always relaxed and happy, she’s the essential antidote in every room. When she’s not creating heavenly masterpieces at WAHP, she’s caring for others, bringing art into various other isolated places. Meg’s one off pieces are a bit sought after on Depop, and she’s started designing for selling items on the website with Sarah, after her designs have been so popular.

‘Resident Gnome’ Naomi
As an incredibly friendly nature lover, our little gnome Naomi brings all the cute and cheeky positivity she can to the studio and creates thrifted one off pieces with magical puns and meaningful items or animals. Naomi is now heading up the social enterprise at WAHP, to allow Sarah to focus on creating a stable source of funding for outreach projects. Naomi has created 2 new art therapy outreach programmes, due to start once gatherings are safe in the UK. The first is a focused closed and intimate group, with committed weekly members working on using art to pursue recovery. The second is weekly drop in sessions to allow flexible space for organic art therapy and community.

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‘Ivy Elf’ Bex
Our lovely northern lass is swayed by eastern culture, bringing a smokey haze of hippie to the hairy offering. With passions ranging from circus skills to mandala art and off towards Buddhist aliens, you can rely on Bex for some grounding and alternative inspiration with a perfect finish. She is down to earth and a friend you can rely on. Bex heads up the ice dyeing processes at WAHP, alongside painting her own designs and assisting on collaborative projects.

‘The Sheriff’ Andrea
Our teeniest tiniest hairy, the greatest and fiercest of friends. The love you get from this one is loyal and strong, and she fights for what’s right. She’s just finished her teaching uni course in Plymouth, and is now training in creating her own designs and assisting on collaborative projects.