Ella Martin

Ella Martin

Team Member, Upparel
Bachelor of Design in Fashion Design

Ngāpuhi, Ngai Tahu

Deciding to come to AUT for her studies was easy, says art and design alumna Ella Martin who completed a Bachelor of Design in Fashion Design with a minor in Sustainability.

“I wanted a fashion degree with a well-rounded variety of design and technical skills. I chose AUT because my fashion teacher at high school recommended it, understanding that it had positive employability outcomes because of  internship opportunities and the Rookie fashion show.”

She had a number of highlights throughout her studies.

“The highpoints for me were the opportunity to collaborate with likeminded and uniquely skilled people, being able to research topics I was interested in, and developing my knowledge of fashion ethics and sustainability in my minor. I never would have challenged my design, sustainability and  conceptual skills as much as I did without this degree.”

Taking part in CO.STARTERS
Another thing Ella particularly enjoyed about her time at AUT was being able to participate in the AUT CO.STARTERS programme for aspiring entrepreneurs.

“After finishing my graduate collection, I had done much of the grunt work to start independently making and selling clothing through my brand. My idea was to create a fashion brand trading garments made entirely from waste textiles, selling the items through online platforms and directing all of the profit to local charities. I did CO.STARTERS as I was lacking the business knowledge, specifically legal knowledge, to start operating as a social enterprise.”

She says it was an invaluable experience.

“I’ve gained a fantastic understanding of the components necessary to start a business, and where to find any information I may be missing. I also developed my presentation confidence and my understanding of general business concepts, and gained the contact details of some of the impressive professionals that attended the sessions.”

Making a positive difference
Since graduating from AUT at the end of 2021, Ella has enjoyed playing her part in creating a more sustainable fashion industry through her roles at Sustinnoworx and now Upparel.

“At Sustinnoworx, one of my key projects was a textile waste campaign, which involved holding workshops for the community, school groups and clients of the non-profit organisation Shakti, and developing designs and products upcycled from unsaleable donations. I was also responsible for developing online resources to educate people about the textile waste crisis and upcycling skills, as well as hosting events and managing large-scale projects like a fashion brand collaboration.”

Ella recently joined Upparel, New Zealand's first scalable onshore textile recycling solution, where she helps to ensure that used textiles can get a new lease on life. She loves being able to make such a meaningful contribution to the textile waste problem.

“I really enjoy this work because I’m able to meaningfully contribute to the more than 1,000 kgs of textiles being recycled every week by our team in South Auckland. It provides a highly sought after service to a large variety of organisations and I feel like I’m making a real  difference.

“My favourite part is seeking out organisations that would most benefit from our wide variety of useful output streams, from new clothing to trims and haberdashery. I’m proud of being able to use my Design major and Sustainability minor skills to identify resource systems and design features that could support better circularity. We then connect with our partners to discuss these ideas. It feels like I’m planting seeds for a bigger mindset and apparel system change by reaching out to designers and production teams from major companies.”

*The Bachelor of Design is now known as Te Tohu Paetahi mō te Hoahoa - Bachelor of Design.