20 August 2020: In this short video coming out of Japan one half of Story Mfg, Saeed Al-Rubeyi, shares that the main passion of Story is for the crafts to continue to thrive. We share this passion and agree that especially at this point in time it is good to grow (slowly) by adding persons employed rather than machines. The most important thing that Story Mfg does for the earth, though, Al-Rubeyi exlplains, is to research and use natural dyes. The Colours of Nature are happy to contribute dyes and other textile related crafts to this fascinating client of ours.
29 May 2020: As we have recently shared, we participated in a Nest initiative to help sustain artisans through work, paired with ensuring that people in need of masks can get them.
Nest (www.buildanest.org) in turn partnered with Qurate Retail Group, Etsy, Mastercard, Target, Amazon, The Cordes Foundation and the Winn Family Foundation to bring this much needed help to The Colours of Nature and other businesses. In addition to bringing much needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the world.
Through the Nest initiative, critical funding was provided to 56 artisan businesses across 25 countries. The Colours of Nature is grateful to have been one of those businesses.
In total, more than 200,000 masks were donated (and counting!) as a result of the Nest COVID-19 response and PPE Purchasing initiative, which saw work shifting to PPE production.
Here a video of some of the incredible work done around the world: https://vimeo.com/418258977
We thank Nest and are more than happy to continue onwards in our artisanal efforts, together with our fellow guild members.
For more information: https://www.buildanest.org/covid-19-response/masks-by-nest-makers-and-artisans
22 May 2020: Now that we are having some of our work force back in action at the premises, we are happy to share a brief report on the routines that we have implemented. This is especially important as we have no COVID-19 cases in Auroville but there are active cases in the surrounding villages. Early morning, before the start of the regular work the entire facility is treated with disinfectant. Then, as staff start to enter for work, we check that a mask is being worn and that the temperature of a person does not give a cause for concern. Next, before accessing their station of work each person thoroughly washes their hands and sanitizes them. Throughout the day we keep wearing masks, wash hands and sanitize, plus disinfect the facilities on a regular basis. Furthermore, we continue to stick to smaller teams. Sitting more spread out people remain at a distance at all times possible.
18 May 2020: As already stated, at The Colours of Nature we believe that the mask is important and in particular at people’s work places.
With the Nest COVID-19 grant work completed and with more of our staff coming back to work, we have plenty of our regular work pending and needing to be caught up on, and specific challenges that we face on a daily basis.
We do hope that we’re all inching closer to easier times, but there are confirmed COVID-19 cases very close to us and we are much devoted to following the safety guidelines.
All who work at The Colours of Nature wear masks and regularly wash their hands. In addition, we have spread people out, sometimes by separating out specific tailoring sub-units. One person has been assigned to rotate, full-time, to check that mask-wearing, hand-washing and distancing are practiced at all times.
We disinfect the premises twice per day. Unfortunately, we feel that we have no choice but to use non-natural disinfectants. It goes completely against our nature, but so does this virus, in our view. And again, with people’s health at stake, this is not a time to be dogmatic.
Many people and companies are facing a mask-shortage and for this reason we are open to receiving additional mask orders (Send a mail to email@example.com).
Most of our clients face much uncertainty with regards their markets during the months to come. It is very difficult to predict the demand, and this might impact us. And so ensuring production of any kind makes sense.
But even if we have to fast track the training of additional tailors to meet the demand for masks we will do so. It is very important for us to do our part when it comes to beating the spread of the coronavirus.
We do hope that we can soon start to send ready dyed fabrics and garments to our customers again soon and wish that you all stay healthy during these trying times.
16 May 2020: As mentioned recently we received a Nest COVID-19 grant to produce masks for our local community. At The Colours of Nature we do believe that the mask is important. We have observed that saliva drops are very much emitted whilst people speak and know that we can count on particles being carried by the air. This grant not only supports us in paying salaries but will also protect people from the coronavirus.
Nest proposed that we use left-over pieces of our eco-friendly naturally dyed woven organic cotton fabrics, but we suggested another approach. Not only do we already upcycle most fabric pieces left over from production – one of our main customers, Story Mfg. (https://www.storymfg.com), cleverly designs beautiful patchwork, which helps ensure that there are not many cut-offs – but we also found that woven fabrics are not the best choice.
The only non-woven fabric suitable for the manufacture of masks, that we could find, was synthetic. Obviously, it is not an ideal choice, considering the micro-plastics applied tend to end up in our oceans. But in this case, the type of cotton we had in mind not being available, we had to put the immediate health of people first.
As we guess many people have experienced lately, now is not a time to be dogmatic, but we do hope that there will be some advances made towards developing biodegradable non-woven fabrics, and making them available in South India.
Once the Nest agreement and the fabric were in place it only took us three days to stitch the agreed upon 1500 masks. Clarity on the number of workers depending on The Colours of Nature was important. The project was never about doing business, but about trying to support the survival of the unit. This in turn is of huge importance to the people employed by us.
To us it made particular sense to, supported by Nest, gift these masks to Village Action because their outreach work covers the villages that The Colours of Nature staff tend to live in.
When the lockdown started, from one day to the next, some 70 people could not come to work on our premises. Soon, however, we obtained permission to have 2-3 people come every few days in order to maintain the fermented indigo pots.
Whilst we had managed to complete some of the work before the lockdown, the bulk of it happened once some easing was coming into play. Having received the needed permissions from the Auroville authorities, who liaise with the Indian government, we managed to complete our delivery to AVAG by May 9th.
15 May 2020: At The Colours of Nature the last few weeks have seen our income dwindling. Having been fully focused on being able to continue to pay our staff, we are happy to share that we received a grant to produce masks.
With the arrival of the coronavirus on the global stage, the situation that we found ourselves in, almost from one day to the next, was that we could no longer produce nor ship any products to our clients. This combined with the Indian government’s stated obligation of ours to continue paying the salaries of some 70 employees, even though they are not allowed to work onsite, served up some food for thought.
But rather than worry, we looked around for creative solutions. And we found the Nest COVID-19 Relief Grant. Well, they actually reached out to us, via their newsletter. Nest (www.buildanest.org) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to help artisans in different ways. Aiming to preserve important cultural traditions, they focus on all handworkers and on the well-being of women in particular. We learned of the existence of Nest some years ago and became members.
Jesus met the Nest founder when they were both Levi Strauss & Co. Collaborative fellows and travelled to San Francisco as part of the program. As Nest members, The Colours of Nature receive the periodical Nest newsletter and the Auroville unit was delighted to read about a grant to produce masks. Nest’s idea was to use their network of artisan members, both to be of use to society and these crafts-based organisations. And as we were looking to be of service both to our staff and to others living in our vicinity, we got into talks.
After some brainstorming and communications back-and-forth we agreed that The Colours of Nature would supply surgical type masks to Auroville Village Action Group (AVAG). Nest, through a grant, would pay for the production of the masks and the masks would be given for free to the villages nestled around our facilities and Auroville. As there are cases of COVID-19 active in the villages in our vicinity it made a lot of sense.
We’ll soon write again to tell you more about the project. For now, we state that we are happy to be a part of the global artisans-supporting Nest Community as well as of our local communities.
3 January 2020: To move ahead we need to look back, and we need to continue to practice the ancient traditions not to lose important artisanal knowledge, writes Kavita Parmar (link). Together with Marcella Echavarria, this February Kavita is curating the first ever TEXTO event, in Mexico City. The two already set up the project Xtant, which is aimed at building a Global Heritage Textile Guild using technology. With TEXTO they want to re-imagine the meaning of the words Luxury and Inheritance in search of true beauty and balance – all in relation to textiles.
Jesus Ciriza Larraona, the founder of The Colours of Nature, has known Kavita for a long time. Like her, he is adamant that applying new technologies to amplify reach will crucial for truly sustainable Artisan producers to take over as the backbone of the textile industry. Jesus is extremely happy to partake in this alliance-building, groundbreaking and multicultural event.
He will speak on the work of The Colours of Nature and participate in the sharing and formulation of new visions and the steps needed to get there. People from all over the world are joining, including well-known Indian activist Vandana Shiva. “Spanning 20 countries, from Latvia to Bhutan, and from Uzbekistan to Argentina, this is sure to be an event that will both inspire and contribute to its long-term goal – a stronger textile industry aligned to the needs of the new world currently in the making”, concludes Jesus.
Happy New Decade, All!
For more informatino: www.texto.one, Instagram: @texto_indumentaria, https://www.facebook.com/textoindumentaria/
30 May 2019: Very happy to share a nice story, story, story from one of our fabulous slow fashion clients Story Mfg., especially as it includes a video shot here in India, in Auroville, at The Colours of Nature premises: https://www.mrporter.com/en-gb/journal/video-spot/the-brand-that-moved-5…
“We were in Paris and randomly met someone who told us about the natural dye industry in India,” Mr Al-Rubeyi says. “He gave us a long list of places to go to see, an A-Z of the best dye houses and craft projects in India. The Colours of Nature was the first name on the list.”
26 January 2019: To Wish You All a Happy New Year (better late than never!), we proudly share a few words by Jenny Balfour-Paul, a world renowned natural indigo expert who has written four books on the topic: “What joy, having known Jesus Ciriza Larraona for so many years, to visit at last his natural dye unit at Auroville near Pondicherry. Lucky to see the original sets of indigo dye vats that are soon to be made redundant as he scales up the operation. There are now 62 new vats – the world’s largest fermentation unit – waiting for work. Wake up world! These are truly eco-friendly, unlike many indigo dyeing operations that claim to be so. What phenomenal knowledge Jesus and his master dyer Kumar (in the white shirt) have gained after years of experience, scientific experimentation and close study. Jesus has also studied many historical recipes – so much is contained in these old books, including all the botanical and chemical studies by Europeans (of course often for their commercial gain but the knowledge can be put to good use now).”
20 December 2018:
Look at this beauty!
One of our new big pots, sponsored by Levi Strauss & Co., only using indigo grown in the field right next to us.
A homegrown fermentation indigo dye bath, anyone?