Before I moved to Australia, I grew up in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, where I was surrounded by an evolving history of beautiful textiles and incredible artisans. For more than a thousand years Baku’s sheltered port harboured Silk Road traders and merchants, who brought with them wealth and prosperity to the city. That legacy continues to this day. Then, later in life, I travelled the world, with access to some of the most exclusive labels available. It expanded my appreciation of style and quality.
In 2018, I opened a small factory in Baku where we manufactured uniforms for boutique hotels throughout Europe. While I was there, I began a program for some of the young women who had grown up in orphanages. They don’t have many opportunities as they grow older and leave, so we offered some of them the chance to be trained in ironing, packaging and sewing. It was very successful and a number of these women moved on to work for other clothing manufacturers. It was amazing to be able to help them develop skills they’ll be able to use for many years to come.
Now that I’ve launched Hanna Edwards, I wanted to ensure I was doing as much as possible to keep beautiful handicrafts alive. It all ties in to our mission statement, which is to create excellent working conditions for the people around us and give as many women as possible the chance to use their skills.
One of my favourite shirts, the limited-edition batiste and silk blend shirt with hand-crocheted lace, is one of the best examples of incorporating beautifully hand-created pieces into items of clothing. The sleeves of this garment have crocheted insets made by a single woman who is partially deaf. She does such amazing work, and despite being made by hand, each of the pieces of lace she makes is exactly the same. We then also sew them into the shirt by hand to ensure they maintain their integrity. We only made a small number of these pieces to ensure each is of the highest quality.
In the future, I’ll be looking for ways to include artisan crafting in the manufacturing of my garments to ensure they offer our customers individual pieces that will be cherished for years to come.