Matt Bateman (far left) and Ashley Wray (far right) owners of Mala Imports pose with their models following the runway show at Vancouver Eco Fashion Week held last month. The models are wearing both La Isla swimwear and Aum Rudraksha Designs.

Chilliwack business featured at Eco Fashion Week

An inside look into former journalist turned jewelry importer Ashley Wray’s experience with her first
fashion runway.



Ashley Wray

Special to The Progress

Vancouver Eco Fashion Week was a rush – a fashionable rush.

For three days my fiancé and I attended educational seminars providing simple tips on sustainable living, and watched international and local designers showcase their collections on the catwalk.

But the biggest rush was taking part in our first runway show – being backstage, dressing our models, and then walking out onto the runway to a standing-room only audience, all cheering with applause.

Eco Fashion Week, which was held over two days last month at the University of British Columbia’s Robson Square, promotes innovative ways to lead a sustainable lifestyle, starting with environmentally friendly fashion.

My fiancé – and business partner – Matt Bateman and I were proud to be a part of the show with our business Mala Imports, featuring jewelry that is handmade in Bali, Indonesia by Aum Rudraksha Designs.

Our necklaces and bracelets, which are made from a combination of rudraksha beads and gemstones, fit Eco Fashion Week’s mandate perfectly.

The rudraksha beads, which are a symbol of compassion for humanity, grow inside of what look like blueberries, and are sustainably harvested on trees in South East Asia. The gemstones are associated with different healing qualities, from turquoise, which is believed to increase love and destroy hatred, to jasper, which provides balance and harmony.

As well, Aum Rudraksha Designs is fairly traded and ethically produced.

For the runway show, we paired our jewelry with swimwear from La Isla, a California-based line that designs bathing suits made from Italian and Spanish fabrics and features exquisite hand-embroidered details.

Keep in mind, the fashion show was located in a partially covered outdoor runway in early April when the temperatures were still rather chilly – can you imagine the state of our models? Not only were they freezing, but their breath could be seen as they strutted down the catwalk.

Needless to say, backstage was hectic. Models were everywhere, hair and makeup teams were constantly rushing out from behind curtains, music was blaring, and our runway coach was trying to keep the models warm with energetic dance moves, and hot thoughts, like sitting on a beach in Bali.

Before we knew it, our last model had walked off the catwalk and we were being directed to step out into the spotlight, where we gave a wave and a smile. The whirlwind didn’t end there – we were immediately ushered to a media lounge to pose with our models and give TV interviews.
After the initial rush wore off, we were able to enjoy the rest of the evening’s shows, including the finale by Jeff Garner’s line, Prophetik.
Overall, our first runway show was a fantastic experience. We’re already excited to take part in Vancouver Eco Fashion Week’s October show, highlighting the spring and summer season.

For more, visit our website www.malaimports.ca.

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