An Interview with Jo Godden

Judges Interviews

Founder, Ruby Moon Swimwear

As a pioneer in the swimwear industry with her ethical business Ruby Moon, our Fashion and Textiles judge Jo Godden has made it her mission to bring issues of sustainability to light in the fashion industry.

After a trip to a factory in China left her questioning the ethics behind the garments we wear, Jo decided to create a business model that would not only use sustainable materials, but also support women with micro-loans so that they can start businesses of their own.

Here’s what she had to say…

What is the single most interesting brief you’ve worked on during your career?

The work I do now with my ethical swimwear company has been the most challenging for me, but also the most rewarding. Like the CCA brief I started with an open opportunity, but also one that was almost impossible because there were so many different ways I could build it.

Who has been your biggest influence?

I was young and searching for what I wanted to do in life, and on a whim took an evening course on design and pattern cutting. During school I was never great at fine art and didn’t have much encouragement to go into a creative field, but I had always enjoyed making clothes as a hobby even though I believed I wasn’t good enough to make it into a career. The tutor at the evening class was a lady called Christina Barry, and she completely changed my life by telling me that I was good enough to pursue fashion design. This was something I had never had anyone tell me before, and it gave me the confidence to push myself and make my passion a reality. Although she may not be a big design influence, she definitely had the biggest influence on my life.

What is the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever been given? What advice would you give a creative student today?

‘Just say yes to everything you’re offered, and be enthusiastic even if you’re not sure about it’ All opportunities are worth taking, and even if it doesn’t seem like something you want to do at first, taking a step out of your comfort zone will help you to grow and deal with challenges you wouldn’t be facing otherwise. For creative students, I would say that you should never refuse an opportunity, as you never know where it will take you. I have worked abroad a number of times and it has always seemed daunting at first, but you meet so many people and have great experiences that add to your journey.

In this culture of fear and cautiousness, what is the future of design?

Design is becoming much more considered; there are more and more diminishing resources in the world that we need to be aware of. Young designers need to be able to think effectively and be able to adapt to different situations in order to be successful in the future – they really need to be able to see things with a 360-degree viewpoint. The food, energy and water nexus – the idea that the three are interdependent – highlights the coming scarcity of those resources in the world. I think we can already feel it coming, and it will project us into a completely different state of mind. This is where designers will come in to make a difference in the future, as the purpose of design is to create solutions.

What is it about this initiative that has inspired you to get involved?

Sustainability is a very important issue for me and I think that it is an important area that needs to be essential to modern design. I love the fact that it is involving students because young designers are going to face design challenges in sustainability and ethics in the future.

How does your creative conscience express itself in your work?

Everything my company does is about sustainability – The fabrics are recycled, all printing is done digitally and parts of the trims are recycled to name a few things we do. We rarely compromise on our work, and although it has been a difficult journey we are proud that we are changing peoples’ lives in a positive way.

Interview by Mari Carroll