Acala Stem

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Winner of the Social Responsibility Award in the Body category

A true leader of change, social responsibility is at the heart of this small business. Local and global communities are supported via the production and sales of Acala Stem products, while the environment is considered and protected throughout every stage of the business’ production and packaging processes. 

Acala Stem has a strong partnership with a textile social enterprise in Cambodia, which they have personally visited. The textile mill empowers women by providing the opportunity to work from home with their children, avoid long travel times, earn a good wage, have flexible working conditions, and provide a path to financial independence. The brand’s valued textile supplier manufactures from beginning to end, from yarn to finished product with no intermediaries or outside providers, to ensure the quality and ethical practices of all their products. Acala Stem sources their packaging (boxes, cylinders, etc.) from a reputable marketing company in Australia with a transparent supply chain. 

Acala Stem’s lotus stem production process requires no water, gas, oil or electricity to produce, making it the most ecological fabric in the world. In addition, the brand only uses natural hemp strings to tie their products, 100% recycled paper for their tags, compostable mailer and DyStar dyes (Certified Oeko-Tex; contain no heavy metals) for their fabrics. Their packaging paper is made from the remaining pieces of lotus stem, ensuring zero waste. In addition, the brand makes scrunchies and fabric bookmarks from off cuts of their fabric. Acala Stem rescued an excess of petals from cancelled hotel orders and leveraged their glass bottles to become their Lotus Flower Bath Ceremony, adding value and reducing waste.

Since Acala Stem’s launch in April 2020, they have helped employ over 60 women in Cambodia to work from home with their children. Many of these women are single mothers, just like the founder of Acala Stem. The brand aims to employ 500 seamstresses in Cambodia by 2025, to be able to work from home and keep their children at home. Acala Stem has donated back just over 350 of their own lotus face masks to The Salvation Army Australia and St Kilda Mums, which is over $14,000 in retail value having gone back into the community. They invested their own funding into clinical testing of their fabric and face masks to ensure health and safety. So far, they’ve managed to save the equivalent of over half a million disposable face masks from landfill and sea with the sales of their biodegradable fabric face masks. The brand regularly volunteers at Fareshare kitchen in Melbourne and also educates the broader community, through their social media accounts, about why buying ethical brands is so important and provide a raw, realistic insight into the effects of poverty from fast fashion.

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