Deborah Sams & Mary Lou Ryan established the iconic Australian fashion brand bassike together in 2006 with a vision to create luxurious and wearable everyday pieces. From its inception, the brand has remained firmly committed to a philosophy centred around high-quality design, sustainable production and local industry.
As an Australian made, owned and designed brand founded on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, community is central to everything that bassike does. This tie to their community extends beyond the day-to-day to include the support of foundations created to protect and support women and children in the community - something that both co-founders are very passionate about.
Each year on International Women's Day, bassike host a luncheon in support of one such cause. The Northern Beaches Women's Shelter provides emergency support for women in crisis in the local community. Along with emergency accommodation, NBWS provides occupational therapies and assistance with accessing support for finances, employment, education, healthcare, legal advice, and permanent housing.
We caught up with Deb and Mary Lou at this year's fundraiser to learn more about this important annual event.
At bassike, sustainable manufacturing and a commitment to community are at the heart of your philosophy. Has 2020 impacted how these values come to life within your business?
bassike has been committed to responsible business since inception in 2006. Many questioned this decision, as producing locally comes at a significantly higher cost to making offshore, but we knew this was what we wanted and that it was the right decision. We know our makers are being paid fair wages and being treated well and we are able to work together to co-create our collections exactly as they were imagined.
We are constantly inspired by the skill of the makers we partner with and it makes us endlessly proud to preserve and foster talent within our local industry, all the while reducing our environmental impact with the beauty and benefit of a short supply chain.
As an Australian made, designed and owned brand, we were also lucky to be able to continue production of our forthcoming collections with our local makers in a safe and health conscious way. They believe in our brand and the future of our work together and we feel more connected than ever to our community and the meaningful, long term partnerships we have built. We encountered a lot of the same challenges faced by other brands and the industry but the strength and resilience of our team and supporters was truly inspiring.
Each year bassike hosts a luncheon on International Women's Day in support of Northern Beaches Women’s Shelter (NBWS). How long has this event been running and what first prompted its launch?
2021 marks the third consecutive year bassike have hosted this luncheon in support of the Northern Beaches Women’s Shelter.
We have always been passionate about supporting issues regarding women and children. Our brand ethos is about supporting local industry and Australian made so it was only natural to join the two and become involved with working with the women’s shelter in our local community. Crisis support is a very real requirement in our community and our business has received so much support, particularly from women, over the years and it was important that we are able to give back.
To date, bassike's IWD events have contributed $221,000.00 to directly support NBWS. What does this financial support mean in terms of day-to-day impact for the shelter?
The funds we have raised for our International Women’s Day events in 2019 and 2020 contributed to an incredible 10% of NBWS’s annual operational costs. This is the equivalent to providing shelter and support services to 7 women for their entire stay in NBWS’s crisis accommodation, or covering the cost of on-site support services to 114 women living on transitional properties for an entire year.
This year's event raised over $78,000 for the shelter which is an incredible result, especially given the current climate. All funds raised will support on-going shelter operations and will contribute to supporting and growing support services and well-being programs.
Can you tell us more about what IWD means to the team at bassike?
As a business founded by two women, international women’s day to us means celebrating womanhood and the successes of the women both in our sphere and beyond, as well as recognising and challenging the inequalities that still exist for women across the globe.
This year's IWD theme is #ChooseToChallenge - what are the issues you would like to see challenged more frequently?
As long-term supporters of the Northern Beaches Women’s Shelter whose crucial work supports women escaping situations of domestic violence, we’d like to challenge the way that this epidemic is framed and prioritised – it is a national crisis that needs immediate and substantial action, starting with further funding and attention from government.
For more information on Northern Beaches Women's Shelter visit https://nbws.org.au/