Sam & Karina Seljak
We are two sisters who imagine a world without waste. We're finding new ways of making and using beautiful things that are closed loop by design.
Seljak Brand launched in March 2016 and has since worked to accelerate the transition towards a more circular economy. We work with a range of suppliers in Australia and Europe to weave recycled wool blankets that are recyclable at the end of their useful life.
The award-winning blankets are made from factory floor offcuts, deadstock yarn, or post-consumer textiles waste like old woolen jumpers. Recycling wool is important because it’s too precious to throw in the bin. Wool is a natural fibre that is incredibly hard to replicate – it’s a renewable resource, it is odour and stain resistant, antibacterial, lightweight, breathable and insulating.
For every blanket sold, we donate $5 to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) – an organisation that helps people seeking asylum and new migrants feel welcome, safe and supported in Australia.
After your blanket has enjoyed a long, adventurous life we’ll collect it free of charge using a carbon neutral courier service. If the blanket is still usable we’ll donate it to the ASRC’s Material Aid program, and if it’s damaged and beyond usable we’ll send it to one of our mill partners to recycle. There it will be shredded and spun into new yarn to make future blankets.
Our circular model allows us to divert waste from landfill and create luxurious and useful blankets. Seljak Brand also participates in systems innovation, and educates and advocates for the circular economy and climate action.
Check out how the blankets are made.
- We've diverted 4,594kg of textiles waste from landfill
- We’ve donated $8595 in cash and 284 blankets directly to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne
- Numerous Australians have been exposed to closed loop business practices thanks to the press we've received
- We've crowdfunded $32,000 to help fund the research and development of using other businesses' textile waste to make more blankets – you can check out our progress with local Sydney label Citizen Wolf’s offcuts here.
- We’ve been awarded $30,000 in funding from Macquarie Group to continue development of textiles waste to resource products.
- We were awarded The Design Files' Sustainability Design Award in 2019.
For every ten blankets sold, Seljak Brand donates one to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) in Melbourne where asylum seekers are made to feel welcome, safe and supported. Providing job training, access to health services and legal advice, as well as food and household goods (and warm blankets!), ASRC offers the support and opportunities asylum seekers need to live independently. Our grandparents were refugees from Slovenia and we want to support asylum seekers making a new home in Australia.
HOW IT'S MADE
We work with a range of mills in Australia and Europe that each have a special part to play in producing blankets from offcuts and yarn that would otherwise be destined for landfill.
Tasmania, Australia – our first recycled wool mill partner
The 150 year old mill in Tasmania is vertically integrated and spins and weaves luxury blankets made from Australian merino, as well as alpaca, mohair and cotton. The by-product from the process is used to make our recycled wool blankets. Offcuts are collected from the factory floor, which are overruns, trimmings and scraps from the spinning or weaving stages. These offcuts plus old blankets are ripped up in an industrial ragging machine, spun into new yarn and made into blankets. Read about the step-by-step manufacturing process in Tasmania.
Geelong, Australia – the mill with deadstock yarn
Our Rugged range is woven at a mill in Geelong that is traditionally an upholstery weaving mill. When we learned they diversified into blanket weaving, we were thrilled. What’s more, they have a stockpile of deadstock yarn that they’d been keeping with the hopes of using it before getting dust-covered and moth-eaten.
Mills are left with ‘deadstock’ yarn if it's over-ordered or their customers change their designs or quantities. We design blankets with the deadstock yarn to avoid sending it as waste to landfill. Read more about weaving blankets from deadstock yarn in Geelong.
Italy – the post-consumer textiles recycling
Seljak Brand uses yarn made of post-consumer textiles waste, which is discarded clothing like old woolen jumpers. The ‘waste’ is recycled into new yarn at mills located in a textiles region near Florence, Italy. The woollen garments are sorted into like- colours and by material type, and fibre quality. Colour experts meticulously match the colours of every yarn lot so they can offer ‘stock colours’ no matter what garments they’re recycling. Each time, the recipe will be slightly different but the end result will look the same.They are then ragged and shredded and spun into a new yarn with a bit of polyamide for strength. Read more on the post-consumer yarn making process in Italy.
The mill we work with in Lithuania is almost a century old and its Italian weaving machinery produces very high quality recycled textiles and intricate designs.
The mill collects offcuts from the factory floors of 16 mills around Europe and pools them together for processing in Lithuania. This mill also weaves with the aforementioned post-consumer textiles yarn made in Italy. The specialty Jacquard looms mean we can weave abstract patterns into the blankets! Read more about our mill partner in Lithuania.
Seljak Brand was founded by sisters Karina and Samantha Seljak. It was a love of Australian resources that drew Karina home from her work in local food production in Brooklyn, New York. Trained in fashion design, she’d become acutely aware of the waste in the manufacturing world. Sam had worked at Indigenous creative agency Gilimbaa for several years and had started multiple community-driven initiatives in Brisbane. She was ready to crystallise her learnings from purpose-driven business into her own social enterprise.
Inspired by the resourceful and mutually beneficial business practices we saw sprouting up all around us, we poured our time into understanding the circular economy and closed loop models.
Our respect for Australian wool lead us to the oldest weaving mill in Australia, which retains all of its production offcuts for future use. Using these offcuts to make blankets, we incorporated a closed loop system that re-manufactures the blankets at the end of their useable life.
After working with Australia’s oldest wool mill for a few years, we started running out of waste – which is a good problem to have! But we wanted to divert even more textiles waste from landfill, so we looked overseas. Discovering a mill in Lithuania that collected it’s own factory floor waste, and processed the waste of other mills, we took our first step into globalising our supply chain.
Today, we work with mills in Australia, Lithuania and Italy to make our recycled wool blankets. This enables us to work locally as much as possible, and tap into the scale that mills in Europe offer.
Sam is based at Seljak Brand’s showroom and studio in Brisbane and Karina on the Sunshine Coast.