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    India, Part One.

    India, Part One.

    My mission to create fun and funky colourful clothing that is ethically produced and made from organic cotton is coming along nicely. Well, I say nicely but it hasn’t been without its ups and downs. I am now in Bangalore, now called Bengaluru, India. My research had suggested that this was a good place to base myself whilst promoting my Kickstarter campaign. It is India’s high-tech centre, their Silicon Valley, and there are many coworking places around this sprawling city. I had come here for a long weekend to see if I could spend at least a month here. And now, over a month later, I am still in this city. 

    Indiranagar, Bengaluru, India

    I had contacted Ravi Shankar of Blossoms Organic whilst I was still in the UK. We had a Skype call and I told him what I was looking for. I described want I wanted to get manufactured and he seemed to understand. It was only when I got to his factory in Tiruppur, Tamil Nadu, that I found out that hadn’t actually listen to me. 

     

    “Oh no, we only make T-shirts here Mr. David. I’m sorry to have wasted your time.” 

    Ginger Hotel, Tiruppur, Tamil Nadu, India

    What to say? It’s difficult when people say that they understand but they don’t. So I took the sleeper bus back to Bangalore and arrived the next morning. There wasn't much to do in Tiruppur anyway. It’s a small city but it is India’s T-shirt manufacturing hub. Ravi did however, put me in contact with his brother, Madhu of Ya-Apparels, and they make collared shirts in Bangalore. 

    Ya-Apparels, Electronic City, Bengaluru.

    So I set up a meeting with Ya-Apparels. Their factory is in Electronic City, a high-tech suburb that is now the outsourcing capital of the world. Now, my mission is to find a manufacturer that is fair trade and works with organic cotton. Anyone can purchase organic cotton but to have your factory certified as an ethical producer takes time and money and is only done when the owner is focused on such ideals. So although I could see that they would do a good job, their set up was not exactly what I was looking for. And they also went ahead and ordered material before I had agreed for them to do so. Not sure what was going on there. Maybe they thought I would be obliged to buy it once they had ordered it.

     

    After a week, Bangalore was getting to me a bit so I got myself off to Goa for a wee holiday. Indian cities are quite full on. Everything is on the extreme end of things. Walking anywhere is an adventure, but it can get quite exhausting. But Goa is beautiful and a lot more chilled. I was last there 20 years ago. I stayed in Arambol before they had built the bridge. Having to get a boat across the river had meant that north Goa was quite unspoilt back then. I got quite a shock seeing modern day Arambol. Back in the day there was only a couple of restaurants and a hand full of hippies. It has now exploded with cafés, restaurants, shops and venues. And the hippies have multiplied too. 

    Kerim, north Goa.

    I had a wonderful week, catching up with friends and meeting a few new ones. It was so nice to walk barefoot in the sand or to zip around the winding roads around Kerim. I loved my time in Goa and would love to spend more time there but it isn’t a place to knuckle down to work. There are too many distractions. I will be back though.

    Faiza and I

    After just over a week I returned to Bangalore. My friend Faiza was DJ-ing on my first night back, so me and some of the guys from the hostels I’m staying in went to see her perform. I had spend my first week in India with her. It was so nice to land in her beautiful place. I’ve known Faiza since 1995 but hadn’t seen her for a while as she is now a famous DJ here in India, and spends most of her time here. Here’s here website. http://www.mafaiza.com. She played a great set in Bangalore, I had a great boogie.

    Suvastra India's greeting for me

    Earlier that day I had a meeting with Suvastra India. I found them through the Ethical Fashion Forum. They make shirts for some really cool organic clothing companies around the world. They seem to understand what I am doing and were very helpful. We had a really good meeting and I decided to get them to produce the samples shirts that I need for the Kickstarter campaign. We are still in that process as I write. I have had a first strike off and the colours weren’t right but now I have the Pantone references so I am looking forward to seeing the next strike off. 

    Checking the colours with their Pantone book.

    Things take longer than you imagine. I was hoping to start the Kickstarter campaign on the 1st of March. Today is the 27th February. I won’t get the shirts for a least another 3 weeks. It’s frustrating, but what to do. 

     

    Have any of you had any experience with crowdfunding, especially Kickstarter? I will be embarking on a campaign soon and I could do with as much advice as possible. I don’t know exactly how much I will need just yet but it is going to be a substantial amount and so I will need to get it out to a wide audience. So any help I can get will be much appreciated.

     

    Vinaka,

     

    Dave.

    Getting Ready to Kickstart!

    Getting Ready to Kickstart!

    It’s been a while since I last wrote. That blog came from the beautiful co-working space in Ubud, Bali, called Hubud. I got back to London in April after 3 beautiful months in Bali. It was not a smooth landing. Cycling through south London made me aware of the anger here, something I hadn’t experienced in my time in Bali. And the weather has been appalling, cold and wet. And as I work outside, as a trader at Borough market, I am deeply affected by the weather. I didn’t expect to be wearing a puffer jacket in June. And the whole Brexit thing was a very strange experience indeed. So it was never going to be easy coming back but I did’t expect to feel quite so down.

     Playing in Illustrator

    Having said that, it didn’t take me too long to raise my mood and to slip back into London life. One of the first things I did though was to hire a business coach. I played Ultimate in Bali with Derek Loudermilk. He has a podcast called The Art of Adventure, in which he interviews people from all walks of life, who are in some way living life as an adventure. He does some really inspiring podcasts. So after an initial Skype call with him, he agreed to coach me, to help me produce a range of men’s organic casual shirts. Having never started a business before I figured I should find myself a guide. And Derek is really keen to help manifest these shirts. He loves his casual shirts, I think he has quite a few.

     

    I then needed to find out how to make these shirts. Whilst in Bali I discovered Cock & Bull Menswear, an organic menswear company based in east London that make all their clothes in the UK. I had been thinking to make mine in India. Through the Ethical Fashion Forum, of which I am a member, I found a company in Mumbai. Unfortunately their minimum order is 1200 pieces. Making them in the Uk is appealing for several reasons. The production can be very small. It’s good to think big but it’s also good to start small. And I want to be able to meet the people who are going to produce my work. 

     Vinaka Logo

    I rang Phil from Cock & Bull for some advice on producing my shirts in the UK. Phil told me where he gets his fabric from, who his printers are and the tailor they use. He was very helpful and supportive, so thank you Phil.

     

    Thankfully, the flat screen printers, Allan Williams Textile Printers, is in Deptford, south east London. That’s about a 20 minute cycle ride from my home. So one Monday morning I cycled there to see John Allan and Pete Williams in their railway arch. When I showed John my designs, he could see immediately that I hadn’t considered the print process and he advised me to expand the designs and also to consider the negative space. I am really grateful for that advice, it allowed me to open up the designs. With the flower of life one, I broke up the background structure which allows it to float. So the background is now the shirt’s base colour. This makes it much easier to print. I decided to go with 2 designs. The other is based on the structure of the flower of life but I use the negative space between the petals. I see it as a kind of cosmic sound system, with speakers floating in space, magnetically linked through the power of sacred geometry. I’m going to do 2 different colour versions of each design, so there will be four shirt designs in all.

    Change for Print

    I need to produce four pre-production samples that will show what the shirts will look like. They will have to be digitally printed and unfortunately they won’t be made from organic cotton. I will be funding this project through Kickstarter, so I will need them for the my video presentation. 

     

    This digital printing will be done in Edinburgh. I found BeFab Be Creative online. It is run by two sisters, Solii and Zoë. They have been very helpful to me and were the cheapest I could find. I am currently waiting for some samples to come from them.

    Digital Print Sample 1Digital Print Sample 2

    I also found Atelier Kitoko via an online search. They produce pre-production samples as well as manufacturing. And they’re just a half hour bike ride from me. I went to meet Benjamin in his delightful studio in Woolwich. I was impressed by him and the place and I love his coffee table which showcased some of his work and includes an exquisitely carved wooded chess set. There is an air of quality about him and his work that really appeals. I know my shirts will be well made.

     Vinaka Logo 2

    I am now in the process of designing my Kickstarter campaign. As well as the four organic casual shirts there will be other rewards such as an organic T-shirt, a mug and a sticker. I have written a script for the video and now I need to plan the video. I want to get a group together and video us having a party in different spots around London. If you want to be in the video or if you can help in anyway, please contact me.

    Also, if you want to join me on this journey, please like Vinaka Clothing on Facebook.

    Cheers,

    Dave.

     

     

     

     

     

    A Journey Begins

    A Journey Begins

    Bali Temple

    In January 2016 I came to Bali to work on a couple of projects that I had been thinking about for a while. Initially I had wanted to finish off writing a story I was working on. I had gotten about a third of the way through the storyline and thought that the 3 months I had taken off work would be sufficient to finish it off. But although I really wanted to get that story out, I am an artist/designer and writing is not really my forte. During the time I was planning my trip to Bali I was playing with designs and putting them onto my RedBubble and Society6 accounts (art websites that allow you to create products from your artwork). By the time I was in Bali I was far more focused on the designs I had been playing with than the book that I had previously thought was going to take all my focus.

     

    A couple of people had told me about a co-working space called Hubud in Ubud, the town I was staying in Bali and so I decided to check out it’s website. On that day there was a talk by a friend of mine from London hosted by an organisation called Tribewanted. 8 years previous I had been a Tribewanted chief of Vorovoro, an island close to my birth place in Fiji. I won’t go into that story but I recognise synchronicity when it is staring me in the face and so went straight to Hubud and to my friends lecture. There I met some inspiring people and my journey to creating an organic clothing company took hold.

    Hubud co-working space in Ubud, Bali

    Co-working spaces are amazing, well Hubud is anyway. You meet many very inspiring people and I found myself going to many skill shares and lectures and think tanks and meeting people doing all sorts of wonderful things. What I really liked about them was the encouragement I received when explaining my ideas. There was a real sense that anything can be achieved if you put your mind to it. I ended up joining Tribewanted again. This time I didn’t dress up in traditional Fijian chiefly outfits and drink lots of Kava Kava. The Bali version was all about support and accountability. It was a very encouraging place and I learnt a lot from the other members. 

     

    My desire to create clothing comes party from my time in Fiji. I fell in love with Fijian ‘Bula’ shirts. They are basically the same as the more famous ‘Aloha’ shirts from Hawaii. Bula is the greeting you hear everywhere in Fiji. It means life and is a blessing of health and happiness. And ‘Bula’ shirts are usually loud and colourful. I bought a couple and they became my party shirts. I loved wearing them and would get a lot of compliments about them. 

     

    But finding similar colourful clothing in the UK, where I am based, has proven difficult. And my awareness of organic clothing and the harm that non organic cotton does to this planet has increased, and so I found myself severely restricted in the clothing that I could buy. For a while now I have been thinking about putting my designs onto organic, Earth friendly clothing and accessories. I am always drawn to clothing that has interesting patterning and I love colour and I often wonder what my designs would look like on people when I am at a party or just out and about. 

     

    So it just felt like it was the right time to start an organic, eco and ethical clothing and accessories company that show cases my bright, bold and colourful designs.

    Working on designs in Hubud

    It’s been many years now since I discovered sacred geometry. As an artist and spiritually minded being, I find sacred geometry fascinating. I will write in more detail about it in another blog post. I had been working on designs using the flower of life for a while and I decided that I wanted to explore the geometric space that the flower of life occupies and see what I could do with it. So the first 2 months was very much playing with different ideas, printing them out to get a feel for them and playing with more ideas. I have now decided on 4 designs to be printed onto 100% organic cotton.

     

    So the journey now begins in getting these shirts to the world. I know that there are many people out there looking for colourful, funky organic clothing that will come on this journey with me and Vinaka Clothing. I should add that vinaka is a Fijian word for gratitude and goodness. I chose the name because it connects to my own personal journey but also because gratitude is a very important attitude to have. The attitude of gratitude will bring more of what you are grateful for. I am grateful for you reading this and I hope you will join me on the Vinaka Clothing journey.

     

    Vinaka vaka levu (thank you very much),

     

    David Randall