This week’s HOT Chat comes from Eco Fashionista. Alex Hume chatted to me about fashion, living eco-conscious and being a business-owner with a young toddler.

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Alex, how did Eco Fashionista come about?

Eco Fashionista was launched almost a year to the day my son Max was born. Max’s arrival (and the huge sense of responsibility that arrived with him) was the catalyst for me to make a bigger commitment to being “green” – and, ever the keen shopper and fashionista, I realised the “greening” needed to extend to my wardrobe!

As I began to explore whether there was such a thing as “designer eco fashion”, I became so excited about the amazing labels I was unearthing – many of which weren’t available in Australia and in the one shopping destination. If I was going to seek out these chic pieces for myself, then why not share the love and let others in on my discoveries? I believe most people want to be eco-conscious about their lifestyle, but they also don’t want to give up the things that matter – such as style, quality and individuality. And that’s where Eco Fashionista comes in….

With so many fashion designers out there, how do you select the stock for Eco Fashionista?

A lot of brand research lies behind Eco Fashionista‘s collection and the designers must demonstrate serious design and eco credentials.  How they achieve their “eco fashion” mission differs – from using organic, sustainable or vintage fabrics,  eco-friendly production, making small quantities to order or by hand and ensuring fair work conditions. We have given “eco attributes” to each piece in our collection with these symbols.

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Where do you turn for eco-fashion inspiration?

I’ve always devoured fashion magazines, and it’s wonderful to see titles like Vogue, Madison and Marie Claire now turning out green glamour and eco chic issues. I also read the stylish Australian eco fashion magazine Peppermint, and inspiring eco fashion blogs –  Eco Stiletto and Green Lashes and Fashion just to name two. For high-end designers with a conscience, it’s hard to go past Philip Lim (who launched his “Go Green Go” line in 2008) and Stella McCartney.

What advice would you give to someone starting their own business?

Three words have guided me over the last few months  – patience, perseverance and perspective. Having a clear vision of your business and its direction is essential, but equally important is the flexibility to adapt to the challenges that will be inevitably thrown at you. I’ve also had to learn that sometimes I am not the best person for the job! You need to concentrate your energies on your strengths, and in areas where you lack experience or skills – delegate or outsource if /where you can.

What are you wearing at the moment?

I’m wearing one variation of my “home with Max” uniform – Good Society jeans, Sublet Courtney top and  Beyond Skin Tilly floral ballet flats. It’s all about comfortable style these days.

I do love to dress up when I get the chance though! My fiancé and I have a rare dinner date tonight, and I’m looking forward to wearing my Minna Maria vintage print dress, accessorised with a pendant from fair trade jeweller Fifi Bijoux and Ashley Watson’s super-soft recycled leather oriole clutch.

What are your tips for what’s HOT in Melbourne?

We love our morning coffee, and breakfast is really the only meal we go out for these days! Our local favourites are Mixed Business (486 Queens Parade, Clifton Hill +61 3 9486 1606‎) and Palomino (236 High Street, Northcote +61 3 9481 0699) which both make a great soy latte and exude an arty community vibe.

A little further afield, we recently discovered St Ali (12-18 Yarra Pl,South Melbourne +61 3 9686 2990) – a funky converted warehouse with specialty coffee blends and chocolate brioche, yum! Joe’s Shoe Store (233 High St, Northcote +61 3 9482 7666‎) is a very small bar with a whole lot of atmosphere – enjoy a glass of red with pizza from next door at Pizza Meine Liebe (231 High St, Northcote +61 3 9482 7001), along with a game of French boules out the back.

For something more special, we love Cumulus Inc (45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne +61 3 9650 1445) for fine wine and adventurous food in a vibrant setting.