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If You Don’t Watch The True Cost, Read This – A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison

By October 24, 2017 Ethical

I’ve covered quite a few books on my blog over the past year or two, all of them being related to ethical fashion on varying levels, however, I’ve never read or reviewed a fictional book until I discovered A Harvest of Thorns and realised that fiction could be another way to help people understand and come to terms with fast-fashion. (Please be aware that this book and my review covers topics such as rape and may give away mild spoilers.)

A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison Book Review


A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison


Although I had the idea that the book covered the tale of a single garment worker, A Harvest of Thorns actually covers the tale of not only garment workers, but a journalist and the general counsel of the fictional retailer, ‘Presto‘ (you could compare it to the likes of Amazon).

Based on what the author Corban Addison discovered and experienced himself after the Tazreen Fashions factory fire in 2012, the story covers a similar tale and how it affects a major corporation, consumers and the future of the fashion industry.

It’s film-like, in the way the book is written; it’s descriptive and immersive and allows you to understand all of the different perspectives that you’re reading, whether that be from the perspective of a garment worker who is forced to work without pay; Joshua Griswold – the journalist battling with his struggling relationship, his cancer-ridden daughter and his career – or Cameron Alexander; the general counsel (chief lawyer) who recently lost his wife in a tragic car accident and is facing the possibility of his mother’s death.

A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison Book Review

As you can probably tell, this isn’t an uplifting story but it isn’t supposed to be. Although all of the stories and characters are fictional, it all comes from reality – these stories and characters exist, whether we want them to or not.

The reason I suggest this book as an alternative to The True Cost in the title, is because I believe it’s just as hard-hitting, even if it’s not factual and can’t show you the honest and costly reality of the industry through video footage.

It also explores more than just the Rana Plaza – the only true story included within the main plot – and the realities of factory conditions. The fictional aspect allows you to understand and interpret each story in a way which you can empathise with yourself.

Although I judged Cameron at first for his corporate position, I came to understand that he emphasised easily with what was going on in front of him. There’s no excuse for not being able to take a step back and really understand what is going on from an emotional level but the parallels between his personal life and what he was finding out about the industry, reminded me of my post after my experiences with the Italian earthquakes in 2016 (you can’t prevent an earthquake but you can prevent people from getting hurt).

A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison Book Review

Cameron was struggling with guilt over the death of his wife Olivia, which he believed could have been prevented by him taking a break from driving when he was tired.

The factory fire described in the book could have been prevented if Presto relieved some of its pressure off of suppliers (even when as the book explains, Presto’s customers wouldn’t notice the difference if they did) – therefore, he was able to really grasp the issue at hand as he was dealing with a similar personal issue.

You may notice that the two main characters are both men, but to me, this actually supports the book as a whole and adds something really important to certain stories. For example, the character Alya experiences sexual assault and rape from a factory supervisor and ends up pregnant, alone and unable to go back home when she’s made to leave her factory.

Sexual assault has been highlighted in the news recently and thankfully, a lot of good is coming from the bad, with more women and victims coming forward to show that this really is a pressing issue. However, Alya’s story in the book is one which is hardly ever spoken about due to the fact that women like her, aren’t able to speak out. It could jeopardise their whole life and risk worsening their position.

Cameron and Joshua are two men who are in positions of power and privilege (which they could easily abuse) and are able to help Alya out of her situation and begin the process of making sure it doesn’t happen again.

A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison Book Review

If I’m to point out one major takeaway from the book, it’s that facing up to ignorance is a huge challenge in the fight for change within the fashion industry (and many other industries, too). Whether that’s from a government perspective, a company, an investor or more specifically, consumers.

In the book, it takes a video of one of the garment workers speaking out their story for somebody high up in Presto to really open their eyes, even when they’ve been faced by the press, activists and their own employees with stacks upon stacks of evidence as to why change needs to happen.

A lot of the time, we don’t want to hear it. We don’t want to watch films and documentaries like The True Cost because then we have to finally admit that we could be doing so much better. That’s why, once again, this book is a great alternative – you can read it as you wish, knowing it’s fictional, and take it into your own hands to apply your thoughts and feelings to how it affects you and your own shopping habits.

A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison Book Review

My rough sketches of Cameron, Madison, Josh and Alya based upon my imagination.

What books have you read recently? Share your recommendations in the comments!

  Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

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Pen to Paper Interview with… Natalie Grillon of Project JUST

By May 22, 2017 Pen to Paper

‘Pen to Paper’ is a feature on TDP which involves an informal handwritten form of interview between myself and creatives –  from fashion designers, photographers, journalists, artists and musicians, to people who generally inspire me from day-to-day. 


Natalie Grillon - Project Just

Project JUST is building a community to help consumers change the way they shop for clothing. The online platform features a brand wiki where shoppers can search a brand and access profiles researched by ethical, social, and environmental factors and a Seal of Approval, awarded to the best brands in the industry. Project JUST also publishes a series of fashion-focused content including shopper profiles, supply chain investigations, garment worker profiles, city shopping guides and styling posts to help shoppers put their values into action.

Project JUST has been featured on Refinery 29, Cosmopolitan, Take Part & ELLE.

 WEBSITE // TWITTER // FACEBOOK // INSTAGRAM // #IAMJUST


project just co-founder natalie grillon interview


~ READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPT ~


I believe I discovered Project JUST last year when researching ethical directories. It was when I’d just started to really delve into the world of brands dedicated to ethics and sustainability. There are a handful of excellent resources out there, it just takes a bit of digging but none of them were quite what I was looking for, especially as somebody who is attracted to simple, eye-catching websites and easy to browse platforms. I was rather relieved when Project JUST came up on my browser because it ticks all of those boxes and isn’t just a directory. It really is a resource.

As with many recent ethical fashion related initiatives, Project JUST started after the Rana Plaza collapse of spring 2013 and has now grown into a well-respected platform which connects consumers with stories behind the brands they shop from, and not just ones which are typically known to be ethical. If you want to learn more about the Primark’s and ASOS’s of the world, Project JUST is a great place to start for clear and concise information.


Not enough space! My handwriting is BIG. Started in 2013 to help consumers learn the stories behind their clothes, launched site in Dec 2015.

Why and how did Project JUST begin?


project just co-founder natalie grillon interview

project just co-founder natalie grillon interview


How automatic many of our behaviours are – it’s a journey to empower a consumer to change the way they shop – it doesn’t happen overnight.

What's the most eye-opening thing you've learned since launching?


Listening to Natalie and other co-founder, Shahd AlShehail, discuss Project JUST on Kestrel Jenkin’s Conscious Chatter podcast was rather insightful and as I’ve said before, I would highly recommend giving Kestrel’s podcast a listen and not just for that episode alone.

Not only does Project JUST list out pros and cons for different brands, it also has a great “slang” dictionary for those of you wanting to scrap up on your ethical and sustainable lingo.


Price and sometimes design. Consumers need to have a product that matches style, size, price and then sustainability.

What do you think stops the everyday consumer from shopping with ethical brands?


project just co-founder natalie grillon interview

project just co-founder natalie grillon interview


If you must buy, buy vintage or quality (and wash your clothes less ) 

What is one thing we can all be doing to become better consumers?


As I often tend to reiterate around here, small steps lead to greater things which I believe comes through in Natalie’s answers. Being conscious and educating yourself is putting yourself on the right path to learning more about the stories behind your clothes. We wear them every day, don’t we?

As the site is also a bit of a community, I recently took part in the #IAMJUST interview series which is a bit like Pen to Paper. Head over to read through my own handwritten answers and discover Project JUST for yourself!

(I was kindly gifted a free annual membership to Project JUST’s directory, however, this interview had been set-up in advance and all opinions are my own!) 

  Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

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