Shan Cox is one of those people that get involved in all sorts of things – running a motel, organising charity motorbike rides, creating a clothing range made from fabric and plastic bottle scraps. One thing for certain is her desire to follow through on her ideas. You could describe her as bubbly. Even in her writing I can see the smile on her face. It wasn’t always like that for her though. A stress disorder prompted Shan to reevaluate her outlook. For her, happiness was a considered choice. I’m so glad she chose happiness.
Shan is the person behind Erthn. She is a designer that manages to capture soulful depth in a light-hearted way. A few years ago she designed shirts for friends and then focused on a clothing business for children. She worked on a couple of projects with her friend Sarah, including a cheeky sausage dog range. Eventually she sold the business to Sarah. Shan then stepped outside, reset herself and took the plunge to begin working on Erthn.
Erthn started at the beginning of 2016 and is essentially a clothing range. The clothing is either made from organic cotton manufactured in fair trade conditions or in a unique process whereby fabric is made from recycled scraps. The ‘recycled’ clothing is a combination of 60% organic cotton (the offcuts of fabric) and 40% post-consumer polyester (plastic bottles). Printing is completed in Australia. The clothing tags are made of cardboard that has been infused with wildflower seeds. These can be ripped up and planted.
I’ve had the pleasure of chatting many times with Shan and since we live in the same town, I’m certain we’ll cross paths on all manner of things in future. Here’s one of my conversations with Shan.
What prompted you to set it up Erthn?
‘I had been designing personalised shirts for quite a while and had decided I wanted my own range of tees for women that represented my eco/sustainable values. I had to break down quite a few fears before sitting down and allowing myself to design a range that I love. That was my one condition – as long as I love the t-shirt design that is all that matters. Erthn is organically growing as a way for me to be creative and discover sustainable practices that I wish to support, as well as work with spiritual practices. At the heart of it is an organic/recycled clothing range. But I am adding different items such as a diary and I have a few other things in the pipeline.
What sets your business apart?
‘Ummmmm I really haven’t found anyone doing anything like I do…. Between the recycled shirts with a soulful whimsical art and then little ideas like the clothing tags that can be ripped up and grow wildflowers in the back yard. I think, I have followed my soul in this whole process and as such it has just led me down a very unique path. I am very lucky I was taught that I can do anything and once I got over my fear of rejection, I have been able to just keep creating things for the joy of it.’
What eco practices do you incorporate into daily business?
Simple things like composting and recycling. I hate waste, so try to find other uses for things before resorting to the rubbish bin. I love giving old things a new life. My husband and I have restored things like old bikes and made them into choppers for the kids, and we turned old windows into artworks. It’s nice to make things that have a story and a history.
What else do you do?
‘I operate a motel and restaurant with my husband and we have two kiddies who are in primary school. We have Charlie the staffy who meets everyone at the door as they check-in and Rex the fraidy cat. We are a bit spoilt with the chefs on site who cook family dinner for us 5 nights a week and our motel backs onto a golf course frequented by wallabies in the afternoons. This setting gives us a sense of a sanctuary from work. We live onsite and our daily job is reception/managing the operations.’
And you’ve just launched a diary?
‘Yes. When I set about creating the 2017 diary I really wanted to have some type of eco option. I was really excited to find a printer in Melbourne who shared the same ethos. The diary is 100% recyclable, the paper is carbon neutral, over 35% is made from recycled materials and all production waste is recycled rather than going to landfill. I am loving just how many suppliers are finally getting that we care how our purchases are made. I also have a belief that things have energy and items that are handmade, that are gifts or created with love hold a special resonance/energy. I think more people are looking for options like this.’
Your blog is very personal and not specifically related to your products. What’s that about?
‘I was admitted to hospital a few years ago. I was unable to walk properly and and had issues controlling my bladder and bowel. After five days it was diagnosed as a stress disorder. The fancy name is psychogenic myoclonus. Basically I had been putting that much stress on my body that it had to come out somehow. I looked at many ways to ‘fix myself’ and in the end I chose happiness. Choosing what makes myself feel good at any particular time. It led me down a path of learning about my own version of spirituality, having some new interesting psychic moments and learning more about my world and what we are truly capable of. I guess I learnt that I needed to follow my heart and create my own path without throwing expectations at myself that were for others and not for me. A huge learning curve but a very special one. I am very thankful where this whole experience has led me. My blog is a space where I share about these experiences.’
Discover more about Shan and Erthn.