Connecting Deeply with our Practice(s) of Work

Working slowly and thoughtfully can accentuate the rewards inherent in our everyday work, and enhance our felt affinity with it in meaningful ways. Our work encapsulates a significant portion of our time each day, making it a partially defining factor in our experience of it. The many gifts that are endowed within our work – learning, empowerment, joy, novelty, capital, discovery, comradeship, and others – can sometimes become buried under the rush of the many objectives that we want to (or need to) meet and attain. We’re exploring here with you some ideas and practices that we think can support kindle these qualities, both at and beyond our workplace.

1. Contemplating what ‘slow work’ would mean and look like for you

The slow movement does not comprise any specific definitions, and this is true for ‘slow work’ too. Slowing down can have many meanings and categories, conceptually as well as practically. It can mean consciously decreasing the volume of work we are doing, or completing work in more time, thereby splitting it over different hours. Other practices can include slowing down emotionally and mentally, to take on only one thing (or a few) at a time and go into them thoroughly. Incorporating these approaches of being with our work can allow us to experience a certain timelessness, offering profundity with it. Analysing which forms – amongst these and many others – are most valuable to your own routines are ones we encourage you to experiment with.

2. Understanding the natural rhythm of our energy 

Our uniqueness extends in and to every aspect of our lives, even in the way we channel our energy and the way our environment directs it. Some of us are attuned to working consistently for long hours, while some of us are more responsive to work for immersive yet shorter periods with even (and perhaps lengthy) intervals throughout the day. A few of us find pleasure working under disciplined schedules and others with greater freedom. While for most of us it is a compounding of these different patterns that yields most contentment and growth, it is of salience to observe our natural rhythms to feel comfortable in our diurnal responsibilities. At the same time, our energy may be subject to variation each day, and molding our styles of working in congruence with that knowledge can welcome much calm and slowness into it. For instance, if as someone who typically likes to do more concentrated work in the mornings, you find yourself occasionally wanting to do something else (or rather unable to do much) in the early hours, go into the experience gently to see what you feel called toward doing in that moment – to take a calm walk, stay in bed for longer, write something, spend time with the family, look out the window, or be with yourself. These unanticipated disruptions to our routines can pleasantly refresh us, and direct us anew into our work.

3. Making rest a committed practice

Something that can escape our consciousness amidst the pull of work is the critical contribution of rest in polishing our capacity and connection with ourselves, and consequently with our work itself. Bringing movement to a pause, rest carries seeds of inspiration, breakthroughs, freshness and clarity that nurture and balance our being. Rest too can take many shapes – playing a game, watching television, sitting in silence, speaking with a loved one, drawing or painting, reading, meditating and certainly, sleeping. Principally, with the brisk pace of our lives, rest is a part of our lives we must commit to, one that can serve us in kind and beautiful ways when we uphold it.

4. Slowing our mind 

Our mind is an innately busy and inquisitive space, and tempering its pace or involvements can relieve our processes at work. Planning our work or making maps by the week and/ or month can create mental and psychological space. Interacting with phenomena short of our linguistic means too instinctively slows the momentum of our thoughts and gives our mind the room to moderate or quieten itself. Small grounding practices at work, such as sitting empty during a break, meditating on a blank page, watching an artist make a painting, counting backwards from 50 to 0, watching the leaves dance or simply being with ourselves are customs that can equipoise our minds. Concurrently, understanding  ourselves and moving from a space of authenticity and presence is a further key that can allow us – and our minds – to feel safe and composed working through the day.

5. Being where our values can be honored 

We all have some personal values that form the premise and foundation of our lifestyle and health – even with our work. From integrity, order, and simplicity, to growth, understanding, and excitement, we come with our individual needs that we need to honor and develop. Observing our feelings and thoughts at work, and identifying what is essential for us to change or receive can aid our mind into being at leisure. If this looks like moving jobs or cultivating specific practices – as leaving work at a particular time, taking mindful breaks, working with tables or maps to bring in greater order and understanding of our unique style of working, beginning the work day with the most interesting (or effortless) assignments – at our present position to work with repose, it may be instructive for us to chart out and execute how we want and need our conditions at work to be.


As most of us are accustomed to a fast(er) pace of living and doing, slowing down can take time and entail some trial and error. But, in our experience, once we start learning and adopting slow practices at work, we do begin to feel the many ways in which they bring us balance and health. We hope that the invitation of these slow and small rituals can seep into other aspects of your day, extending further comfort and ease to them as well.




Conversations on Steering Alternative Models of Design

As a movement committed to the balancing and re-designing of our ways of living, sustainability has come to bear marked significance in contemporary commercial ventures. From innovating with new materials to working through old goods and waste, sustainability and sustainable development objectives are transforming business practices across different industries. But prerequisite to each advancement in this sector are many untold challenges which underpin their inception and engineering. To understand the challenges that can encompass the establishment and operations of sustainable businesses, we had a conversation with Kriti Tula, Creative Director and Co-Owner of the ethical fashion label Doodlage. Speaking about her brand, she discusses with us the ways in which the state of the industry propelled her work, the degree of ad-lib changes and responsibilities in the field, the key(s) to ushering success in a sustainable business, and the value of observing the linear and fast fashion space to identify complexities and reconstruct the course of the fashion practices.

1. Could you tell us of your background and your relationship with fashion and design in your early years?

I am a trained apparel designer from Pearl Academy and studied Design Management at the  London College of Fashion. Very early on in my career I got more inclined towards alternate material and upcycling. My first internship was in a large export house and it was appalling to see heaps of fabric waste, rejections, fast moving garment production – there was no appreciation for the art of making clothes. I wasn’t sure if this is the kind of industry I want to be a part of. So I spent my time researching more about sustainable fashion and the need for it after I graduated.

2. How did you come to start Doodlage?

There were limited options in sustainable fashion in India during the time we started Doodlage. Most sustainable brands were working to convert  trash like juice cartons into wallets or brands like Anokhi or FabIndia working with natural fabrics, Indian-wear silhouettes and supporting numerous artisan clusters at scale. But none of them catered to the millenials and their changing style statement as they travelled more, who were born with access to computers and fluidly adapted social media. It was around this time that Doodlage was created and started looking at alternatives like upcycling large quantities of fabric wasted in factories into short desirable collections. Our aim was to start conversation around the need for sustainable fashion and explore alternatives to fast fashion.

3. What does sustainability mean for you?

Looking at things holistically keeping the end of its life in sight and how you can prolong the life span of what you make or buy.

4. What were the kind of challenges you experienced when setting up the business?

I had no idea where to start and since I started the brand quite early in my career I had limited vision of its potential. There was also no brand with a similar vision that we wanted to follow in the footsteps of. From figuring out our own raw material to training the artisans to upcycle and not waste resources were challenges unique to what we were doing. Other more common challenges were finding the right places to sell, managing funds etc.


5. Doodlage is one of the widely known brands in India to create recycled fashion and clothing. Could you share with us why it was/ has been of significance to you to establish this concept in the Indian market?

It resonates with who I am as a person and as I matured as a designer it became more clear that either I would work with a sustainable and ethical  brand or create one.


6. Could you tell us a little bit about your design and creation process? Where do the materials come from, and how are they designed to create the unique pieces you make?

We work our design process backwards. It starts with first collecting raw material and then creating designs around it. Each material and every lot comes with its own defects and have to be checked and handled at every level. We collect wastages in larger lots from bigger factories to be able to replicate styles but each piece might have details that vary.

7. What has your experience with marketing for an ethical business been like? Have there been any specific aspects of sustainability or messaging you have needed to focus on more to encourage people to buy sustainable wear?

We were not so aggressively communicating what we did when we started. The market was young and we were still working to build awareness for the need for sustainable fashion. A lot has changed since, people are a lot more – not enough, but a lot more aware than they were six years ago. We promote three key areas of our work – made from factory waste – mainly our upcycled collections; made from consumer waste – recycled garments; made to be zero waste – everything made from our waste. We focus on building conversation around working with material that is already created and the importance of creating better paying employment.


8. Did you face any challenges when putting together your messaging and communicating it to an existing audience or while building your audience. If so, how  did you navigate them?

Not so much. Our communication has mostly been received well by both old and new audiences. There are always some people who would come back to question what we do and why our products are expensive or is it sustainable to create etc. The best way is to communicate to the best of our capacity. We don’t claim to know it all, and most brands are just working hard to learn themselves and provide solutions through their products while creating better employment.

9. Is it costly to produce recycled designs over fresh pieces? If so, have you seen if that plays a role in the kind of production choices businesses tend to make?

Recycling and upcycling are labour intensive processes and when you work with fair wage vendors to create these pieces and fabrics, it all adds to the cost of production.


10. Do you think there is a certain (social) stigma in the Indian fashion industry to work with recycled waste, materials and fabric?

Certain segments of the society still look down upon hand-me-downs, repairing, recycling. But many millennials and generations after are quite open to the idea of doing what they can to support a more sustainable lifestyle.


11. There is often some skepticism in people’s minds toward sustainable fashion brands. In your experience, what are the things consumers are typically liable to feel wary about with sustainable and ethical fashion? And, what do you think conscious businesses can do to change this?

In my mind this skepticism is usually around green washing and sustainable brands being unaffordable. In both cases the only thing has worked for us is communication.

12. What have been some of the greatest challenges for Doodlage as a slow business since the Covid 19 pandemic?

Things have gotten slower, operations are more difficult, logistical delays, fashion is not a priority product so people end up spending less and several other challenges. We have spent this time testing many new things including trials for brand collaborations.


13. Despite the challenges that come with running an ethical business, what are some of the most rewarding and inspiring moments of being in this line of work for you?

Working with social enterprises to create happier places for artisans to work and knowing that you have been able to inspire more brands to work on sustainable fashion has inspired us to keep working.


14. Is there any word of guidance you would like to give to emerging sustainable brands and entrepreneurs?

Research more, don’t start a label too early, spend enough time working with the linear fashion and lifestyle industry to know more about the problem or circular fashion brands to understand better the solutions before you start.