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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.