We are more than happy to welcome Jen to the AIRR team as our newest member who started with us this June who started out her career with a background in fashion and textiles studying printed textiles and surface pattern at university. Jen then worked in London as a freelance textile designer and stylist for a few years, working for companies such as Cath Kidston way back when she only had her first two shops!
After returning back to the East Midlands Jen had a son and a career change, becoming a SEN teaching assistant at the comprehensive school in Wirksworth. Unfortunately, Jen became ill and for the first 4 years of her sons life was constantly poorly. I was diagnosed with chest infections, acute sinusitis, two separate strains of swine flu and a low immune system. Next came the facial swelling, then a bright red rash all over her face which caused her skin to fall off and then of course total lack of confidence, anxiety and depression.
At the start of 2013 Jen was sent to see a dermatologist. A few weeks later I was patch tested. The result came back as an allergy to a preservative called Isothiazoline which is found in cosmetics and household cleaners. Avoidance of the chemical was the only cure.
After returning home and going through the ingredient lists on our shampoos, soaps and fabric care products and she realised it was in almost all our personal care and cleaning products which was a scary fact. Methylisothiazolinone, MIT, or MI, (sometimes erroneously called methylisothiazoline), is a powerful synthetic biocide and preservative within the group of isothiazolinones, which is used in numerous personal care products and a wide range of industrial applications. It is even sprayed onto the clothing to protect it from mold when it is being transported from factory to shop.
It is a cytotoxin that may affect different types of cells. Its use for a wide range of personal products for humans has more than doubled during the first decade of the twenty-first century and is proving to be a concern because of sensitisation and allergic reactions as well as cell and nerve damage. Industrial manufacturing and distribution of the biocide has resulted in more severe health hazards to the humans involved in the handling of large concentrated quantities of the biocide. Many of which are working in clothing factories with poor health and safety practices.As well as increased potential exposure to it by humans as well as organisms, both terrestrial and marine. Industrial applications in marine environments are proving to be toxic to marine life.
Luckily working at AIRR is a safe environment for Jen. There are no nasty air fresheners in the shop which cause a respiratory tract infections and all cleaning products come from Ecoleaf which are derived from plant extracts.
The clothes at AIRR Clothing such as People Tree are dyed using safe and natural dyes. People Tree source as many products as they can locally, choosing natural and recycled products over toxic, synthetic and non-biodegradable materials.
Now Jen can come to work and forget about my allergy safe in the knowledge that the clothes we sell are not harming the workers that make them. Our clothes give people a better chance at life and a safe working environment.
Jen says, “I love working at AIRR Clothing in Wirksworh. I have my health back and have a wonderful partner, son and many friends. I walk to work and look forward to going to work as it’s fun and doesn’t ever seem like a job. Gone are the days of lack of confidence, anxiety and depression. I now wear a great big smile and look forward to every new day. I always wear a great big smile and I look forward to every new day.”