This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

These Australian-Made Blankets Close The Loop On Textile Industry Waste

Sustainability

Tomorrow Australia votes in what’s been labeled ‘The Climate Election’. The world is watching. The ABC’s Vote Compass indicates that 81% of Australians using the survey want our next government to do more on climate change, and that 61% oppose Adani’s Carmichael Mine.

Amid the frustration of inadequate action and carbon-reduction commitments, we’ve found an inspiring case for optimism. We caught up with sustainability-minded sisters, Karina and Sam Seljak. They’re paving the way for eco-conscious Australian start-ups, as they turn offcuts bound for landfill into high-quality blankets at Australia’s last wool mill.

17th May, 2019

Photo – courtesy of Seljak.

‘The circular-economy had definitely been one of the driving theories for our business,’ tells Sam Seljak. Photos – courtesy of Seljak.

Karina and Sam Seljak. Photo – courtesy of Seljak.

The durable, high-quality blankets will last a lifetime! Photo – courtesy of Seljak.

Made from 70% recycled Australian merino wool and a 30% blend of polyester and recycled alpaca, mohair, and cotton, they come in an array of timeless colours. Photo – courtesy of Seljak.

Elle Murrell
Friday 17th May 2019

‘This product is an analogy for a better way of making and doing things in the world.’ – Karina Seljak.

‘Cosy enough for indoors and durable enough for outdoors – perfect for both the couch and camping,’ tells co-founder and director Karina Seljak. But these are not the only merits of Seljak’s Australian-made blankets.

Its range is created from offcuts gathered from the factory floor, which are shredded, before being spun into new yarn, and woven into beautiful finished products. Made from 70% recycled Australian merino wool and a 30% blend of polyester and recycled alpaca, mohair, and cotton, blankets come in fringe-edged or whipstitch finishes, and timeless colours. New offerings include Pinot and Moss shades.

‘As the IPCC Report calls for low-carbon consumer products we know that using waste as a resource – reducing both extraction and landfill – is more than a nice story, it’s a necessity,’ explains Karina. Since launching in March 2016, Seljak has so far diverted 2,200 kilograms of textiles waste from landfill. Along the way, it has exposed numerous Australians to its highly transferable closed-loop systems. For at the end of a blanket’s useful life, Sejak accepts them back from customers to reincorporate into the manufacturing process.

As part of an all-encompassing responsible business ethos, for every 10 blankets sold, another is donated to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre – a not-for-profit that Katrina and  Sam, the grandaughters of Slovenian refugees, feel very passionate about. Sam is, in fact, making a delivery today, which will bring the total donations up to 160 blankets!

Karina, 30, studied Fine Arts (Fashion) and Business/Advertising during which time she produced and sold her graduate womenswear collection. Meanwhile, Sam, 28, undertook Journalism and Economics undergraduate degrees before moving to Sweden to study a Masters in Leadership for Sustainability. Both sisters will join Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Brisbane next month.

It was while Karina was living in New York and Sam visiting, that the idea to launch Seljak came to the sisters. Working alongside a community of innovative food producers, Karina was inspired by the hyper-localised aspect of small problem-solving businesses. ‘It made us think about what we could do in Australia, what beautiful Australian resources were undercelebrated (wool!), and about different ways we could use those resources to be less wasteful,’ she tells.

Always knowing they wanted to go into business together, Sam brought a wealth of knowledge (from involvement in social ventures including Brisbane community art space The Box, and No Lights No Lycra) to the self-funded start-up. Back in Brisbane, Karina became involved in Better Threads, where she connected with like-minded creatives, including Citizen Wolf. More recently, the sisters crowdfunded $32,000 to research and develop ways to expand the Seljak operation to use other businesses’ textile waste, from cotton to bamboo and linen.

Seljak has also received support in the form of mentors, training, risk management, and funds from ING’s Dreamstarter Program, and The Macquarie Group’s kickstarter initiative. They encourage other environmentally-focused entrepreneurs to tap into private sector support, as big business increasingly looks to make a positive impact. ‘Innovation is extremely time-consuming and a really lengthy process, so it’s not like you can get a financial return on your investment quickly,’ guides Sam.

Their biggest challenge, though, has been limited onshore manufacturing capability. Seljak has ideas to expand its range, especially to new products that complement Australia’s warmer climate, but building localised supply chains from scratch has so far proved prohibitive. At the same time, micro-testing and small runs aren’t accepted by mass manufacturers internationally. ‘The fully-integrated mill we work with in Tasmania is a small business itself, with its own production schedule. Allowing us to do testing has been a big ask and an investment,’ praises Sam. She dreams of setting up a local community innovation centre – anyone have a spare million?

Nevertheless, the sisters have relished enhancing their products and brand direction through workshopping with friends (including in the Tasmanian wilderness, where these images were shot). They are spurred on by what they’ve accomplished in just three years.

‘Being able to bring something into the world that is so beautiful and extremely useful, which I wholeheartedly think people should have, is such a great feeling. But it’s also about having a platform to talk about the issues we care about; this product is an analogy for a better way of making and doing things in the world,’ tells Karina. ‘It’s been really exciting to see so many people get behind that. They have their opinions and hold us to account, which is great because we’re all pushing each other to be better,’ adds Sam.

Find out more about Seljak at Seljak.com.au or follow on Instagram @seljakbrand.

This Week

Dream Job

How Lucy Folk's Marketing Manager Landed Her Dream Job

Gemma Leslie spills the beans on what its like working at one of Australia's coolest companies.

Tiny Homes

A 'Minimum Dwelling' Studio Apartment That Maximises Every Inch

Minimal interventions and clever partitioning make the most of this this tiny studio apartment in Fitzroy.
Sasha Gattermayr

Food

Julia Busuttil Nishimura's Roasted Tomato Summer Soup With Mozzarella

Celebrating the best of easy summer eating with this sweet roasted tomato soup, creamy mozzarella and a drizzle of basil oil.
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Architecture

A Multigenerational, Modern Farmhouse

Two houses are better than one, in this beach house for two families by Tom Robertson Architects.

News

A Valentine’s Day Pop-Up At Hattie Molloy

The experimental florist will hold a one-day-only pop-up at her Melbourne store.
49.15

Podcast

TDF Talks With Textile Designer Cassie Byrnes

A hilarious chat with the celebrated Melbourne designer about new motherhood, the joys and perils of small business, and the benefit of bit...

The Good Room

A Stylist's Good Room In South Yarra's Most Coveted Apartment Building!

Heather Nette King shows us around 'THE room' in her apartment in Melbourne's Beverly Hills apartment complex.
Lisa Marie Corso

Stays

An Old School Campground Transformed Into A Beachside Paradise

A tired holiday camp in Esperance, WA, is now a picture-perfect boutique accomodation offering.

Homes

A Well-Balanced Home In Hawthorn

In nutritionist and meditation teacher Briony Goldsmith's balanced home, all the energies align!
Lucy Feagins
  23 hours ago

Architecture

A Compact And Curvy Family Home In Glebe

Arched windows and internal voids converge in this mind-bending spatial marvel in suburban Sydney by Chenchow Little Architects.
Sasha Gattermayr

Art

Milly Dent Is Taking The Cliché Out Of Porcelain

The Sydney-based ceramicist uses skills she picked up in China for her new show, 'Wishful Thinking'.
Sasha Gattermayr

Shopping

Julia Green Brings Morocco To Australia In This New Textiles Collection!

Stylist Julia Green launches a debut collection of rugs, textiles and ceramics handmade by artisans in Morocco.
Sasha Gattermayr

News

Australia’s Biggest Urban Art Festival Transforms A Kensington Warehouse

Can’t Do Tomorrow is an epic 10 day festival featuring local and international street art heavy hitters in Melbourne this month!
Sponsored

Gardens

A Native Garden Made With Recycled Renovation Debris

This Sydney garden by Fig Landscapes maximises drought tolerant plant life, and inventive upcycling!
Sasha Gattermayr

Art

Baden Croft's Landscape Paintings Quiver With Human Energy

The young Mornington Peninsula artist capturing the Australian ecosystem in exquisite detail, stillness and gore.
Sasha Gattermayr
  15 hours ago

‘We’re finding new ways of making and using beautiful things that are regenerative by design,’ says Karina. Photo – courtesy of Seljak.

Ideas For Living More Sustainably From Seljak

Lobby Your Local Government – protest or write a letter to let them know you care about climate change and demand action. Greta Thunberg has inspired the world and helped us remember that every individual has a voice and can rally behind what they believe in. It’s so nice to see the future generation leading the way.

Lower Your Carbon Footprint – consider reducing meat and dairy intake where possible, and although it’s a tricky one, limit air travel (plus always tick the carbon-offset box).

Think About Where Your Money Is – sorting your rubbish is all well and good but where are your big chunks of money going? We’re talking about where you are banking, investing your superannuation and which energy provider you are using (shoutout to Powershop).

Speak Up – don’t let the issue of climate change or topics around living more sustainably be the elephant in any room. These things need to be talked about. We can still live joyfully as individuals and take action; it’s not one or the other.

Navigating The 2019 Federal Election

As a part of its climate solutions package, the Coalition is committed to Australia’s Paris Agreement target of reducing emissions by 26 to 28% by 2030.

Labor has promised to cut emissions by 45% by 2030 and ensure half of Australia’s energy comes from renewable sources.

The Greens promised net zero emissions by 2040, via a range of mechanisms that include a price on carbon.

Check out Environment.vote for a simple guide on how to vote for the Planet in your electorate.

View Comments

Similar Stories

Sustainability

Paul West On Why It’s More Important Than Ever To Grow Your Own Food

The chef and urban farming advocate shares three simple steps to livin' the good life over a visit to CERES' awesome market garden.
Elle Murrell

Regional

On The Farm At Millpost Merino

Witness Permaculture in action at this long-held family sheep property, in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales.
Karen Locke

Conversations

Reflecting On Motherhood Across Generations, With Artist Beci Orpin + Activist Marg D'Arcy

Ahead of Mother’s Day, we share an enlightening conversation between this phenomenal mother-daughter duo.

This Week

Food

Julia Busuttil Nishimura's Roasted Tomato Summer Soup With Mozzarella

Celebrating the best of easy summer eating with this sweet roasted tomato soup, creamy mozzarella and a drizzle of basil oil.
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Dream Job

How Lucy Folk's Marketing Manager Landed Her Dream Job

Gemma Leslie spills the beans on what its like working at one of Australia's coolest companies.

Shopping

Julia Green Brings Morocco To Australia In This New Textiles Collection!

Stylist Julia Green launches a debut collection of rugs, textiles and ceramics handmade by artisans in Morocco.
Sasha Gattermayr
49.15

Podcast

TDF Talks With Textile Designer Cassie Byrnes

A hilarious chat with the celebrated Melbourne designer about new motherhood, the joys and perils of small business, and the benefit of bit...

Homes

A Well-Balanced Home In Hawthorn

In nutritionist and meditation teacher Briony Goldsmith's balanced home, all the energies align!
Lucy Feagins
  23 hours ago

Architecture

A Multigenerational, Modern Farmhouse

Two houses are better than one, in this beach house for two families by Tom Robertson Architects.

Tiny Homes

A 'Minimum Dwelling' Studio Apartment That Maximises Every Inch

Minimal interventions and clever partitioning make the most of this this tiny studio apartment in Fitzroy.
Sasha Gattermayr

Gardens

A Native Garden Made With Recycled Renovation Debris

This Sydney garden by Fig Landscapes maximises drought tolerant plant life, and inventive upcycling!
Sasha Gattermayr

Stays

An Old School Campground Transformed Into A Beachside Paradise

A tired holiday camp in Esperance, WA, is now a picture-perfect boutique accomodation offering.

Art

Baden Croft's Landscape Paintings Quiver With Human Energy

The young Mornington Peninsula artist capturing the Australian ecosystem in exquisite detail, stillness and gore.
Sasha Gattermayr
  15 hours ago

News

Australia’s Biggest Urban Art Festival Transforms A Kensington Warehouse

Can’t Do Tomorrow is an epic 10 day festival featuring local and international street art heavy hitters in Melbourne this month!
Sponsored

News

A Valentine’s Day Pop-Up At Hattie Molloy

The experimental florist will hold a one-day-only pop-up at her Melbourne store.

Art

Milly Dent Is Taking The Cliché Out Of Porcelain

The Sydney-based ceramicist uses skills she picked up in China for her new show, 'Wishful Thinking'.
Sasha Gattermayr

The Good Room

A Stylist's Good Room In South Yarra's Most Coveted Apartment Building!

Heather Nette King shows us around 'THE room' in her apartment in Melbourne's Beverly Hills apartment complex.
Lisa Marie Corso

Architecture

A Compact And Curvy Family Home In Glebe

Arched windows and internal voids converge in this mind-bending spatial marvel in suburban Sydney by Chenchow Little Architects.
Sasha Gattermayr

Similar Stories

Sustainability

Paul West On Why It’s More Important Than Ever To Grow Your Own Food

The urban farming advocate shares three simple steps to livin' the good life, at CERES' awesome market garden.
Elle Murrell

Regional

On The Farm At Millpost Merino

Witness Permaculture in action at this family property in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales.
Karen Locke

Conversations

Reflecting On Motherhood Across Generations, With Artist Beci Orpin + Activist Marg D'Arcy

Ahead of Mother’s Day, we share an enlightening conversation between this phenomenal mother-daughter duo.