The making of timeless fashion

The making of timeless fashion

A look into the intricacies of minimal and versatile silhouettes

Garments made using quality materials go a long way in protecting us and our environment from harm. Timeless and mindful fashion is the way forward as a sustainable practice, unlike fast fashion that eventually ends up in landfills. At IKKIVI Zine, we had an inspiring conversation with our designer Khyati Pande, founder of Itr by Khyati Pande, about her journey of building a sustainable brand and the creative process of making timeless apparel, and the challenges faced in the process.

How did your journey of creating conscious fashion begin? 

The creative seed was genetic. As an introvert, visuals have always been my first language of communication. From summer holidays spent witnessing my grandmother draped in crisp Jamdani sarees, hand embroidering and home stitching home linens to inheriting my mother’s collection of timeless handloom silks and Banarasi fabrics, textiles have always been my point of fascination. These led to me pursuing my graduation from NIFT Mumbai and my master’s from NID Ahmedabad.

 

What does your everyday production process look like, and how does the label master its timeless style? 

My design process is very organic. The starting point is always the textiles. With every new collection, we try to add a weave, cluster, or hand skill to the brand design vocabulary. These are shaped into timeless silhouettes, finished with finer details that don’t superimpose the human effort that has gone into handcrafting that piece of textile. These textiles are the basic building blocks of every collection. As a made-to-order brand, the production capacity is increased based on the organically growing demand. It has been slow but sustainable and stable growth, which doesn’t lead to overproducing or piles of dead stock.

How do you find and translate the phrase ‘comfort in chaos’ in making mindful apparel? 

Itr is not a trend or season-specific brand. The idea is to craft stories because stories are timeless and transeasonal as they bring a sense of comfort and ease, just like our clothing.

The three top areas of our minimal and handcrafted essentials lie in:

Comfort: It should bring effortless ease to the wearer, whether the setting is home or work.

Textiles: The silhouette is designed keeping in mind the nature and character of that piece of fabric. To be mindful of resources, embrace the simplicity that doesn’t overshadow the skill and effort in crafting that one piece.

Functionality and Utility: The garment should have the ability to adapt according to the occasion, space, or time zones.

Can you tell us about the artisans you work with and how they have helped shape your vision of sustainability for your brand? 

Every year we try to add a new craft cluster on board. Working with artisans comes with its own set of challenges, which is why I visit the cluster in person to understand the resources and scope of their skill set better. We usually begin with a small pilot sampling which helps build a rapport with the artisans and an understanding of the timelines.

Today we are working with three different clusters. 80% of the textiles we use at Itr are woven on handlooms, hand block printed, and hand embroidered. So far, we have been working with extremely fine and lightweight Bengal khadi muslins, airy Katan silks from Benaras, coarser cotton from Karnataka, and block prints from Rajasthan.

Whether it’s the hands involved at every step in making the brand or the women who have consistently made us a part of their wardrobe, it also matured us to be more compassionate towards each individual. As we grow slowly and mindfully, I hope we support more craft communities and reach out to more wardrobes.

What are the challenges you face in the process?

Itr started in 2014 without any blueprint. With a small budget in a room on the roof of my home with a team of two. Today we have grown into a cosy studio with a small but ever-growing in-house team of 15.Coming from a nonbusiness background, whether it was restricted capital or human resource, the brand has organically bloomed and learned to be self-sustained within the limitations. The humble beginnings taught me to be mindful, to have an immense amount of patience and empathy, and to be compassionate not just to the people who help us build our basics but also towards the people who have constantly made us a part of their wardrobes.

The brand has purely grown through word of mouth and positive consumer experience. It perhaps helped the brand hold its foundation even in current times.

What does the future of the label look like, and what would you like the future of fashion to look like? 

Time is the true luxury now. To slow down is the need of the hour in every aspect, not just fashion alone. It is a conscious choice to grow towards being a mindful brand. To be sustainable in any field of work can’t be achieved in a day, it needs to be an everyday practice.

While it is often perceived that slow or sustainable comes with a heavy price tag, the cost is always a crucial point in conscious fashion. It is, however, never disproportionate to the time and effort that has gone into making that garment.

As a designer, I also believe that it is important to make handwoven handcrafted luxury more accessible. To truly bring change, it needs to be relatable to more people.

What is your process to design a collection? How has it changed over the years, if so? 

Being a small brand built from scratch, one has a lot of emotions invested in everything you make. Every collection I have done has taught me something new, either about the trade itself or life.

What advice would you give to a young brand starting out in the sustainability space? And what is something you wish you knew before embarking on this journey as a designer? 

It requires never-ending patience and being honest to yourself and the people you work with.

There is no rule book or defined method for building a brand/business. We all have our own unique journeys.

CREDITS

Why waste is the way forward

Why waste is the way forward

Changing the narrative around the culture of disposability

By 2050 landfills are estimated to have over 150 million tonnes of clothing waste if we continue on the current trajectory of production and consumption. In this environment, young designers and labels are looking to create from waste and resources which already exist. At IKKIVI Zine, we spoke with Akshit Bangar, the creative mind behind the label Urban Darzi on the brand’s journey so far, the philosophy behind their products and the pertinent need to create with waste.

Where and how did your journey with fashion and waste start?

I think I’ve always liked the idea of clothes and fashion in general, even when I was a kid. Coming back from Nottingham after graduation, my dad offered to start a denim brand from one of his trading stock lots lying in his factory and I took that up. We ran a mass market denim wear brand for about 4 years supplying to major multinational retailers like Walmart and ITC till about 2017, right around the time when demonetisation hit and the conversation around fashion industry’s implications towards climate change & global warming started coming to the fore, especially in the Indian subcontinent. Although we were using seconds and discarded fabric lots even back then, we were still guilty of contributing to the problem at large. Post which I shut that arm down and focused on building an individual custom clothing company, with the last mile fabric remnants taken from big/small retailers and even individuals who used to sell on barrows. This is where the groundwork in my brain actually started taking shape towards imagining an overarching fashion company (and subsequently the whole industry) that runs entirely on everything considered as ‘waste.’ After a lot of research, trial and errors, failed investments – I finally launched Urban Darzi, as we know it, towards the end of 2020 with the ideology of creating a circular economy, where waste is looked upon as a valuable resource/raw material and used to create everyday lifestyle products, and where a closed loop system is created to have that initial set of waste coming back to the ecosystem till it is down to the last shreds and eventually recycled into newer material.

You mention that you use ‘jugaad’ as a philosophy to repurpose all that you find laying in dumps. Could you tell us a little about how and where this philosophy finds expression in your production process?

The idea of jugaad is one we, as Indians, know very well. It is seeped into our systems from early childhood by our mothers and society at large, on how to make use of everything and how to make everything work through jugaad. It’s in our vocabulary, in our understanding, in our day to day functioning. So when we say we use ‘jugaad’ as a philosophy to repurpose all that we find laying in dumps, we aren’t doing anything out of the ordinary, we are simply applying that idea, to make use of everything, into our design process and often re-imagining design in a non-conformist way. For example, we used single use plastic bags and food and consumer packaging waste, that we picked up from roadside dumps, and put it in between the lining of a jacket — which does pose an argument of microplastics going into water stream after washing — for which we put in our conscious design principles in place and make sure we are doing that on products that you can go on wearing without washing for months, such as a jacket – how often do you wash a jacket in winters? Another example, we worked with Khamir to upcycle single use plastics found on the streets into raw material, from which we made small holdalls and totes.

It’s not just using plastics, though. We recently did a collaboration with Urban Monkey where we made a sac cover from age-old fabric folders (the ones fabric suppliers send to manufacturers/retailers for sampling and no one seems to care about). We are working on an object’s line where we use the same jugaad ideology, to make decor pieces from all kinds of waste material that we can find on the streets/dumpyards/landfills.

Do some of the conscious values at Urban Darzi seep into your way of living? What does that look like in your everyday life?

Simple things, really. Generating as little waste as possible. Being conscious and mindful of your ways in life, not just from an environmental perspective, but as a human being overall. Being grounded. Being responsible for yourself, for the things around you and extending that thought process onto as many people as possible.

A fundamental part of building a business is developing an aesthetic for your brand. How did you decide yours, and how did you know it was right with your ethos? 

I’ve been a brand fanatic all my life. I love the idea of how a brand you look at, interact with, can impact your life in more ways than what you actively see and feel. When closing in on the aesthetic for Urban Darzi , I didn’t really set anything in stone other than the fact that it had to be completely different from the clutter we had at that time. A mix of raw, honest offbeat and transparent approach to the idea of fashion and clothes in general, was the cornerstone of it all. And who doesn’t like good visual design when they see it, so the editorials, the photography, the conversational aspect of the brand just blended in all naturally.

We often talk about waste from an environmental perspective. We’d like to know more about its artistic and visual aspects. What do you see and feel when you look at it? And what is your creative process like when designing from it? 

To create from what the world seems to have discarded – is often where creative genius lies. That’s what I tell all the design team members. For me, it literally is a playground. And the best part, there is always a new variety/kind of waste to play with and figure out how to upcycle and make a new product from it. Like yesterday only I found a lot of iron mesh sheets at a construction site and I am already thinking about what and how to make something valuable and aesthetically cool out of it. Creative process? It’s just about making the best possible use of it in the most efficient and radical way possible.

A new product’s value is considered to be much higher. And waste has somehow largely had a negative connotation attached to it. The frequent perceptions around it are that it is a re-utilized byproduct or fad to work with. Can designs made from waste come to have a similar value to fresh pieces? What have your experiences been with this in your practice?

We’ve been conditioned to believe this. It’s only a small section of the crowd today that has opened up to the idea of upcycled products and substituting them from a regular purchase in their everyday lives. Personally, I like to believe that products made from waste should actually have more value than a regular product, owing to the simple fact that the design process is much harder ( we can be at it all day to prove how) and takes much more creative thinking whereas the production is equally and painstakingly difficult in some cases. But it requires an overarching systemic change in the way people think and interact with products and their wants/needs in general; something that only collectively can be achieved with all stakeholders actively involved.

What are some of the ways in which we, as consumers, can use or connect with ‘waste’ – our personal waste and the waste that we generate, apart from recycling it?

I am no expert and am learning on the job everyday, but I believe it’s something as simple as being mindful of the waste you create. Seeing where and what you can put back to use, what you can avoid using. Seeing where and how you can collaborate with brands and give them the waste you collect for them to use it further in making new, circular products. Just simple, small things – repeated everyday, by everyone that will eventually account for a larger, societal change.

CREDITS

Changing the Ways in Which we Work

Changing the Ways in Which we Work

Tracing New Trajectories in Fashion

Cultivating change and correcting large scale issues at the systemic level in the fashion industry is often thought to hold more power and potential to make a real difference in how the fashion system works. While this may be a truth true in its own right, we want to share with you how we’re inspired by our brand Em and Shi and their founder Mansi Bhatia about the qualitative change working differently and more mindfully can bring to a brand’s artisans, people and the environment – making change just as potent at the micro level as at the macro.

What does a fashion revolution mean for you? What are the ways in which it has taken shape through your brand?

For us, the revolution would kind of mean in the smaller steps because, if you talk about things at large or if we really require things to change, they kind of have to change at a much more macro level, such as in terms of regulations and certifications. For us at Em and Shi, what it means is to do the best for everyone. To create our processes in a way where it is the most sustainable, and by sustainable I mean, it’s good for the people who are working for us, it’s good for the people who are gonna be wearing the garment, it’s good for everyone involved at every stage. Often when we try to achieve that sort of perfection in terms of what we’re trying to do. It’s like, if today I was supposed to shut everybody who’s working in fast fashion, we would have so many unemployed people and they would in turn, go somewhere else, you know? So I feel like a revolution kind of has to come from smaller steps. And what we do is to kind of make our processes easier on everybody, including the environment and the people whom we can take care of on our level.

I think I learnt that only because when I started, I came in with this whole revolutionary mindset to “do this and do that.” And what I found is that most of it is not possible because either it would be beyond our means as a growing business or it wouldn’t make sense for the people who are working for you. So when we came in, we kind of wanted this sort of approach where everything is super systematic, but what I’ve realized and found helpful is that we mold our structure according to the people that are working for our brand – to kind of change what we are doing to suit them more.

Does it feel like it has made a difference for your artisans and team, and for the brand?

I believe so, yes, because we still have the same people that started working with us from the beginning. Our pattern making hasn’t changed at all. Not even one of them has left or gone away. The fact that they haven’t felt like they need to step out and look for anything else, or even when they are trying to voice their voice, or if there’s anything that’s not working for our and their system – a few minor things obviously – they come to us and we accommodate that. And we really want to.

Could you share with us an instance where molding your ways of working to suit the needs of the artisans hold an impact on their everyday life, and consequently, beyond?

In the villages and spaces, anywhere where the women are working, their kids are hanging out in that area and they are often playing there too. Sometimes if they feel like blocking a piece of cloth, they are blocking it as well. I can’t stop it. The children are by no means involved in the production process, but rarely if they want to do it for play, I don’t discourage it. At the same time that’s their community. That’s literally the name of their community. They’re “printers”. We too have gotten a little more comfortable with them doing it as a community and not having to hide the fact that their children also hang out at their workplace. This is the reality, and we don’t have to modify it to show a different picture to someone, for the very reason that this is the way they work and people need to understand it. It also helps them to have their children around as there’s no one to take care of or be with them at home, and they are too young to be alone.

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Creating Honest Change Through our Individual Paths

Creating Honest Change Through our Individual Paths

Why Being Who We Are Matters

Our sustainable brand Ahmev started out in 2019, unaware of the pandemic that was to strike us all. Finding their ground in the midst of uncountable challenges, they’ve carved a unique place for themselves as an ethical fashion brand in the last couple of years. We, at IKKIVI, spoke with co-founders Kanchan Sharma and Manish Garg about what revolutionizing the fashion system looks like, issues that small ‘sustainable’ brands face, why standing our ground and following our hearts matters, why they work the way they do, and the many things they are exploring.

What does a fashion revolution mean to you?

Kanchan: The fashion industry has played a major role in impacting the environment. In the world of fashion, everyone has done their part – they’ve shown the different meanings and definitions of sustainability and slow fashion. We have too. We recycle and make different things from scraps as well as waste material. However, an important part of what a fashion revolution means to me is showcasing Indian heritage and supporting different artisans by being personally involved in each part of the process. Whenever I create a collection, I personally involve myself by connecting deeply with the inspiration of every collection, working with organic fabrics, supporting women and karigars, and amalgamating modern and Indian sensibilities together. This makes a big difference for us, and being able to now have an international presence is a milestone for us. We only aim to go upward and impact more lives through our work.

What is a challenge that you see conscious fashion brands are likely to experience over the next decade?

Kanchan: People have attached sustainability with restrictions too. Nearly everyone requires certifications that are expensive and processes that are long, and are not clearly marked or very straightforward. We ourselves have had to change our terminologies and how we speak about a fabric because they are patented. An example of this is khadi.

Manish: For small businesses that are actually sustainable and committed to doing more, this presents quite an issue right now, as this is not a one off case for when you are establishing your brand’s name and its credibility. Whenever you want to apply for B2B or competitions, certifications have become a preliminary requirement.  Each country has their own certifications, and they don’t always connect across the world as there aren’t always standardized guidelines. We think this is a large challenge that we expect conscious businesses will continue to face in the coming years and will have to find ways to overcome.

How has the last year been for Ahmev as a brand? 

Kanchan: We started Ahmev in 2019, and I was never a dreamer. Manish pushed me to pursue my dreams and showed me what I can do, and having worked on them consistently, we are glad that the last year has been a very successful one for us. I have enjoyed the process – working with the karigars and my business partners Manish and Anchal. Our karigars are growing, and with them, our brand. We’ve been partaking in the making of each garment ourselves, and being involved in the small everyday practices has been so therapeutic. That’s really been the beauty of our enterprise being a start up.

The color white has been so important to you and to your brand Ahmev. How has your relationship with the color developed in these years, and how do you feel about adding other colors to your collections? 

Kanchan: I still face the issue of people asking me to make the same design in a different color. Even Manish used to suggest that we should make our garments in other colors if there is a demand for it. But people have come to accept it, and so has our team, as this is our brand’s USP. I have never used color, and I have even been afraid of them. Over time, I have been coming to understand color a little more and really worked on it with this new collection. But white is still our trademark, and we want to see that forward.

We’d love to know of some of the new things you’ve been doing at Ahmev

Kanchan: We’ve been doing more capsule collections as our customers enjoy them a lot. We’ve also been experimenting with menswear and doing trials on Manish!

Manish: I too have been exploring myself more through this, and hand painting some of our clothes with Anchal and Kanchan. In fact, I think I’m now becoming quicker at it than them!

CREDITS

 21 Things We Learnt in 2021

21 Things We Learnt in 2021

The Gems That Guided Us In The Year That Was

Each year carries many new beginnings and learnings for us, and this time we wanted to pen and share ours from the last year with you. Here are 21 things we learnt in 2021, and are taking forward with us in 2022!

1. Shadow work 

A practice of healing and self-growth that has helped us unwrap the parts of ourselves that we unconsciously repress or hide from ourselves.

2. Communicating who we are through our art and design

Working on our typography, visual layout and experimenting with different niches to express to you what we are doing and where we are heading

3. Following a personalized routine 

The rhythm of doing things with consistency in ways that suit us individually has been grounding and exciting

4. The effect that energy has on us

Understanding how our body and mind responds to another’s energy and the impact it has on us, as well as others, has brought forth powerful change in how we conduct ourselves with everyone.

5. Balancing spending time with ourselves and socializing with our loved ones

It’s taken us quite a few months to nail this one and arrive at a place of peace and joy with it.

6. Including more healthy foods into our diet

Addition, subtraction; subtraction, addition has been the key for us.

7. Produce a podcast

We learnt how to prepare, record, edit and publish a successful podcast series from scratch and had so much fun in the process

8. Move from a place of personal authenticity

We’ve continually dedicated time to understanding ourselves more and be guided to follow what feels authentic to us

9. That we love listening to audio books, sometimes over reading

They make us feel like the speaker is personally involved in what they’re talking about and offer more ease with their work

10. Stay calm and problem solve under stress 

Keeping our head down and solving different challenges calmly in high crises situations has been a revelation

11. Open up with new people

A little uncomfortable to begin with, engaging with new people freely has shown itself to be a delight.

12. The power of repetition

Mindfully doing things over and over has taught us how capable we are of mastering skills

13. Slow work 

Throughout the year we fine-tuned practices that would allow us to work slowly and have fun doing it.

14. Trying things outside our comfort zone can be both safe and fun

We made a whole list with this one and followed it to the end to notice that there’s so much we enjoy about the things we are often hesitant to try before.

15. The value of filing and organizing our work documents 

Simplifying, editing, cleaning, organizing, recategorizing, optimizing on a bi-weekly basis make things dramatically easy to navigate through

16. To practice interdependence 

Asking for help as well as doing things collaboratively with others is as much a joy as doing everything independently.

17. To improvise or moving with spontaneity

Moving with our natural urges and creativity when they come up, even if they don’t coincide with our elaborately planned schedules.

18. To trust our driving skills more

Passing through the narrow roads of Bangalore everyday amidst the thickest traffic has given us more confidence in taking the wheel.

19. Use a planner (more) effectively

Whatever the templates or prompts, we’ve seen that we first need to make our planner our own and give it our personality in order to make it work and have it offer us the results that it’s designed to.

20. Understanding that no matter how perfectly we try to do things, we will still make mistakes and errors

They aren’t always avoidable and we don’t have to penalize anyone to learn how to do things correctly

21. That rest inspires action

The most beautiful thing we learnt – timely rest sparks our creativity, willingness and desire to do things in a way that nothing else does.

Are there any things from our list that coincide with your own from 2021? If you still haven’t made one, we encourage you to go ahead and make it now for we wonder what sweet things you’ll remember and continue to do!

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25 Zero BUDGET THINGS YOU’D LOVE TO DO

25 Zero Budget Things You’d Love To Do

The Joy of Shared Experiences

There are many meaningful experiences we can partake in through the exchange of currency, but today we’d like to share with you some simple and beautiful zero budget activities that can bring us all a lot of joy and allow us to do more with our loved ones. 

1. Have a picnic

Picnics are always such fun – whether in our balconies under the sun or in the park amidst the lush greens. You’d love having all your favorite snacks and home cooked treats in a basket and sharing them with your friends!

2. Reorganize or clean your cabinets

What can look like a chore may quickly feel enjoyable to you when you look at and touch all your precious belongings and rearrange them by color, category, style or purpose.

3. Look for free city tours

This is one you’d especially like doing with your friends. Not knowing what you’d discover, going for free tours with them is like a scavenger hunt.

4. Window shop 

Window shopping lights up our creativity and imagination, where you’re able to look at things and just appreciate them for their beauty. What adds to the fun is seeing how people are trying to innovate with different designs and ideas every now and then.

5. Try new recipes

We don’t know what your style is but you can have a great time following the instructions of a new recipe and preparing a dish you’ve never tried before. It’s like a science experiment that ends with you having a delicious meal!

6. Soak in the warmth of the sun

Don’t you love how healing the morning sun feels when it touches your skin?

7. Create a book club with your friends

It’s a whole new experience to read great books with friends and think about the many interpretations everyone has of the same one!

8. Have a music night

A happy, messy gala night with everyone around. We wonder what your favorite karaoke song to sing will be!

9. Play in the rain.

From jumping in the puddles to letting yourself get wet in the rain, this would take us all back to our childhood selves.

10. Go to the public library

We’ve put this on the list even for our friends who aren’t book lovers! Public and local libraries have so much to offer – beautiful and quaint architecture, stories of the past, and books with unheard names and pencil marks.

11. Explore something that has always intrigued you

If a sport, subject, place or instrument (or anything else) that you’ve always felt interested in is something you can explore right now, why not try it and see what it makes you feel?

12. Call your loved ones

Staying connected with the people you love can always make your heart soar.

13. Host a potluck dinner with your friends and family

Potlucks are so exciting because you get to share meals you’ve cooked for each other, relish different flavors, and spend time together.

14. Go for a Walk

It can be so refreshing to feel all the sounds, sights and smells around you.

 

15. Watch a new movie

A popcorn party in your pyjamas can make you enjoy even the strangest of films!

16. Make paper planes or origami

Some of us might need to watch a video tutorial for this, but it’s so much fun once we get to doing it. Added joy: It looks sweet when we hang it by our bed with strings!

17. Go to the beach

Nothing can soothe you more than taking a swim or walk at the beach, watching the waves and building sandcastles.

18. Have a sleepover

You’d love the idea of a long night of conversations, snacks, and video games with a loved one!

19. Stargazing 

The glimmering stars have never failed to take one’s breath away. We’d always recommend going to a nearby viewpoint or laying on the grass to see their magnificence.

20. Make a camp or fort in the living room

For us indoor cats, camping at home can be so fascinating. A few bedsheets, books, fairy lights, and a couch or floor mattress can make such a playful fort. Don’t forget to switch off the lights to give it that outdoor feel!

21. Family game night

A great way to bond and catch each other cheating, would you like to see how far everyone will go to win?

22. Make a new meal from already stocked items at home

You’d find this as innovative as it is challenging. To make something from ingredients that you didn’t think of putting together before? We foresee a blend of interesting flavors or a tragedy of taste, but neither without their fun.

23. Draw something and admire its uniqueness

It doesn’t matter if you’re an artist or can only get yourself to do some stick drawing. Play with shapes and see what funny things you make!

24. Go through your baby pictures 

How long has it been since you saw your adorable baby pictures?

25. Mindful coloring

Relaxing and inspiring creativity at the same time, mindful coloring books can be a sweet way of adding some color to our day. PS – If, like us, you feel a little overwhelmed with books that have very intricate patterns, we encourage you to look for ones that have simpler designs.

We hope these 25 zero budget activities can add a little more pleasure and relaxation to your time, and that you add more to your list as you go on trying these!

CREDITS

Creating Climate Impact

Creating Climate Impact

Disentangling Misconceptions around Climate Change and Action

Climate change has become one of the most central and pervasive concerns for us in the last decade, with increasing debate over what we can (and, need to) do as global citizens to confront and cross-examine its challenges. At IKKIVI Zine, we wanted to get a deeper understanding of how we can break down the problems of climate change and injustice at a microscale and learn about how it intersects multitudinously with other social issues. We spoke with environmental educator Isaias Hernandez about his journey as an environmental activist, the many ideas he is unlearning and relearning around the subject, the differences between climate action and climate injustice, and how the misconceptions around climate change impacts the way we approach it.

1. Where did your journey start? When did you first realize you wanted to work for climate justice?

When I was growing up in Los Angeles, I experienced the impacts of environmental racism directly. I remember a field trip when I was younger where we went to pick up trash in an affluent area and I couldn’t help but wonder, “why aren’t we going to places like where I live?”.

I knew that solving climate change couldn’t only be a conversation about science and technology, it had to include conversations on people, livelihoods, and the communities that are most impacted by colonialism and capitalism. Experiencing various systemic failures firsthand led me to pursue a path in environmentalism that was built with justice at its foundation, rather than as a secondary concern.

2. Could you tell us a little about ‘queerbrownvegan’.

Of course! I was interested in creative expression and education throughout college and after graduating helped start the online publication, Alluvia Mag. With the experience and confidence I picked up, I went on to start my own educational platform which is the Queer Brown Vegan page you see today!

When I first started my own platform I wanted to bring my full self to the table and speak to the intersecting dimensions of sustainability. To me, that meant intimately exploring the question, “who is Isaias Hernandez?”. My identity has shaped the experiences I’ve had, so I felt compelled to lean into that as a source of power. The name “Queer Brown Vegan” speaks to these intersections: I’m queer, Hispanic, and vegan, and my activism and education seeks to explore the intersectionality in environmental issues we see today. For a long time, I’ve felt overlooked in environmental spaces, and have even experienced derogatory comments from professors about things like my name being hard to pronounce. I wanted to provide environmental education that highlights issues not always talked about in classrooms and do so in an engaging and creative way. Starting and running Queer Brown Vegan has been fundamental to me finding my own voice in the environmental movement.

3. On your Instagram page you’ve written ‘(un/re) learning’ under your bio note. What are some of the things relating to climate change you have found yourself needing to (un/re) learn?

One of the first that comes to mind are the expectations we place on ourselves as well as the expectations others place on us. No one has to be a perfect environmentalist. As a content creator with over 100,000 followers on Instagram, I know I have a unique responsibility, but I’m still a human being. The environmental movement has its fair share of binary thinking and perfectionism, and I’ve seen how that impacts myself and other activists. It’s a recipe for burnout.

I’m constantly reflecting on my own values and individuality, and allowing myself the space to be imperfect while operating in exploitative systems. Unlearning perfectionism has been essential to supporting myself and maintaining my activism.

Another one is doomism. The climate crisis is already happening for communities around the world, but in the Global North, a popular media response has been to broadcast the doom and gloom. This gets more clicks, but has sparked a global mental health crisis, especially in young people. However, many communities don’t have the same privilege of shutting down and have to fight for their survival. I believe that bringing that same resilience and resistance into the climate movement, the same resilience found in the United States’ civil rights, women’s suffrage, and labor movements, is a far better alternative to doomism. TLDR: unlearning perfectionism and doomism, and (re)learning lessons from resistance movements and Indigenous cultures.

4. How can we understand the difference between ‘climate action’ and ‘climate justice’? Is there a salient difference between the two?

You can have climate action without climate justice. Climate action itself has become watered down and undermined by corporate influences. Most people want to take climate action, but the truth is that the term itself is nebulous. Is climate action buying a metal straw? Petitioning my local government? Having a plant-based diet? All of the above could be considered climate action, but climate justice narrows our focus. Climate justice asks us to examine how policies and practices disproportionately affect vulnerable communities and to replace those policies/practices with better ones. When we channel our climate action through the lens of climate justice, we end up with intersectional solutions and stronger outcomes than what quantifies climate action. It’s one thing to focus on our individual decisions and impacts, but climate justice asks us to go beyond and recognize that while we’re in the same storm, we are not all in the same boat.

5. There is so much information on climate change on multiple platforms. How can we know what data is reliable and what isn’t?

I think it’s worth noting the shift from climate denial to climate delay. World governments and multi-national corporations have all made statements on how they seek to approach sustainability (the problem is these are still mostly just statements and often fail to address unsustainable or exploitative systems, but that’s a different story). In some ways, we’ve beaten the war on outright climate denial, at least on a global scale.

Most people think our issue is if information is reliable or not, but our real issue is in how this information gets presented and who controls the narratives. We have reliable information, but we still need to turn toward our story-tellers and communicators that emphasize intersectionality, indigenous wisdom, resistance movements, and more. Very often information on climate change gets presented as definitive and disastrous, and this itself is dangerous as it often excludes the perspectives and interpretations that can lead to and empower systemic change.

6. Having been dedicated to climate activism, can you share an instance with us where you saw yourself being able to generate real, positive impact?

I’m extremely grateful for the following I have and the support I receive, because it enables me to support so many other amazing individuals and organizations. It’s hard to pick one, but I’d say that anytime I have the chance to work with environmental justice organizations, especially in my own community, I feel the most fulfilled. The quote “think global, act local” comes to mind because it summarizes a lot of the work I do and how I approach my work. There are so many efforts besides my own and I love when I’m able to help raise awareness and support the organizations and individuals making it happen.

7. What keeps your drive for activism strong?

Having my own platform helps! Being able to express myself authentically and in a way I can sustain is what makes all of this possible (as well as having a team behind me). Also, being among a community of change-makers and having friends in this space helps keep me inspired. I want to create a world where people don’t experience the same problems that I did, where people aren’t breathing and consuming poison because of where they live or their economic and racial identities. Lastly, I think resting is the real secret! I also take daily walks. Taking care of my physical, mental and spiritual health keeps me engaged in a sustainable way.

8. What is the one thing you’d like to communicate to our audience which you feel doesn’t get talked about enough?

There isn’t a set of requirements to being an environmentalist, there’s no check-box that you need to complete. It’s not even about solving climate change, because no one person can do that. Solving the climate crisis is about solving the broken systems that have led to it, and solving the broken systems (as an individual) means identifying what problem(s) you connect with and are uniquely equipped to solve. You’ll burn yourself out by doing work you can’t sustain. The world needs environmentalists that are problem-solvers and while it’s important to consider the big picture, this really means focusing on the problems you can solve.

Go beyond and use that individuality to find a collective movement, and I don’t just mean Greenpeace or Extinction Rebellion. Collective movements can look like engineering firms, farms, offices, really anywhere that has people connected by a shared belief and dedicated to solving a problem. If you look, you’ll see there are tens of thousands devoted to solving almost any problem you can think of (and if there isn’t one, then maybe you’re the lucky one to start it). We’re being asked to reimagine all the ways we live in and interact with the world and that’s not an easy task – be gentle toward yourself!

If you’d like to know about Isaias Hernandez’s work, you can visit his website.

CREDITS

With Team IKKIVI

With Team IKKIVI

Conversations on Who We are Becoming Together

This last year we’ve been pleasantly surprised to see how alike yet different we all are at IKKIVI. Not only through our commitment to making fashion more sustainable and living intentionally but also in exploring what a conscious lifestyle means and looks for us, eating together and discussing the dynamics of the human condition, we’ve become a close knit family. This week, we sat with each other to understand the impact working at a slow business has had on us, the personal values that mould the way we want to work, share some funnies, and learn about where we are heading as a team.

NIVI MURTHY

1. Has this been your first time being with a small business? What about this experience has been distinctive for you?

Prior to IKKIVI, I had started a fashion data analytics platform to support designers with data to help them with the problem of overstock. We are now slowly integrating the ideas we had in the previous business with IKKIVI in order to further support the 50+ designers we have on board at IKKIVI. Building and growing a passionate team has been very rewarding and I am excited for all that we plan on doing together.

2. During the pandemic, we were all working from home for over a quarter of the year. In what ways did this change re-shape your style of working? 

Working from home initially was a challenge for me along with the uncertainty of the situation we were all in. Other than the initial few weeks, I don’t think it really changed my style of working. With a family and a dog living in close quarters of each other it sometimes was a challenge to set boundaries between personal and professional time but as time progressed and we were expected to do it for longer I was able to get into some sort of a rhythm.

3. What is an advice you received about work ethic that has stayed with you?

Timeliness.

4. What do you love to do together with the team?

We’re all at different ages in our lives with different experiences and perspectives and I love having conversations with each one to understand how they think and where they’re coming from.

5. A personal value that informs your work at IKKIVI?

Kindness. A value that truly describes what we do at IKKIVI, encouraging kindness to the environment and its people. It is also a value that is part of the culture at IKKIVI, in interaction within our team and stakeholders.

6. The silliest person in the team, in your view?

Malini 🙂 Her personality and perspective never fails to amuse us all!

7. What are some skills or values you have learnt from each other that are now important to you?

The biggest learning I have had is to give ideas time, sit with it and then make a plan to achieve it. There always seems to be a million ideas but the key is to really focus on prioritizing, planning and executing to actually move forward.

8. Can you tell us about a project you are excited to work on over the next few months?

I am excited for us to start offline pop ups again in 2022! I am also thrilled with the response we’ve had with our Podcast on mindful living and excited to make a larger impact with it over the next months and years.

RHEA GUPTE

1. Has this been your first time being with a small business? What about this experience has been distinctive for you?

Over time I have worked with several different small businesses in varying capacities but IKKIVI is the one I have worked on for the longest duration (almost four years!) It has shown me the importance of long term commitment and the impact it can have in affecting change. When we began, slow fashion was something very few people knew of. With time, our audience has grown with us in numbers and well as in information, which allows us to delve deeper into addressing issues of consumerism and the systemic problems in the fashion industry.

2. During the pandemic, we were all working from home for over a quarter of the year. In what ways did this change re-shape your style of working? 

Being a freelancer all my life, I have always worked from home, so it didn’t impact my work habits-wise. However, the political climate in India before and during the pandemic has been heartbreaking to deal with and taught me to fortify myself, get involved in things I could be a part of and trust the power of community.

3. What is an advice you received about work ethic that has stayed with you?

This is something I have cultivated on my own and swear by, be honest about deadlines and have clear, honest communication with the people you work with.

4. What do you love to do together with the team?

Since we put the team together during the pandemic, I have been staying in touch over video calls, which have already allowed me to get to know everybody a little bit. But, I’d love to meet everybody on the team in person in the near future.

5. A personal value that informs your work at IKKIVI?

Our commitment to re-imagining a future for fashion and consumption which is rooted in supporting small business, ethical practices and a mindful, reflective way of living.

6. The silliest person in the team, in your view?

I know Nivi the best in the team since we have worked together for so long, so I feel honoured to have developed a genuine friendship to the point that we are both extremely comfortable being silly in each other’s company.

7. What are some skills or values you have learnt from each other that are now important to you?

Having worked with a few different startups and in a bunch of team structures, I have learnt how to give productive and clear feedback, how to think of the growth of the people I work with and how to creatively problem solve and at times accept limitations that come with a small team.

8. Can you tell us about a project you are excited to work on over the next few months?

I am excited to put together our invitations and press packages for our upcoming pop ups, it is going to be very ‘IKKIVI’ in its essence, slow and mindful, and I hope people enjoy them as much as we are enjoying planning them.

VEDHIKA HV

1. Has this been your first time being with a small business? What about this experience has been distinctive for you?

I have worked with startups before but my experience with IKKIVI has been unparalleled. I love the environment and work ethic. I appreciate that we plan things well in advance and are able to be flexible with our schedule as long as our work gets done within the planned timelines. We are clear about our responsibilities and able to collaborate with ease.

2. During the pandemic, we were all working from home for over a quarter of the year. In what ways did this change re-shape your style of working? 

Since I worked as a freelancer for a while before I joined IKKIVI, I was quite accustomed to the idea of working from home. I had a separate room, at home, as a dedicated work space which helped a lot. In fact, I had gotten so used to working from home that the idea of coming back to the office was terrifying and took me a while to figure out. Now that I have found my rhythm with it I enjoy working from the office and having my work and rest spaces be completely separate.

3. What is an advice you received about work ethic that has stayed with you?

A piece of advice that I received from my father has always stayed with me – He said that no amount of talent, skill or intelligence would matter if I couldn’t be a loyal, dedicated and reliable worker. People work with people they can trust so being honest would take me a long way and that has helped me along my journey.

4. What do you love to do together with the team?

Since it’s only been a few months of us coming together as a team it’s always fun to talk and get to know each other better  . We share stories and our different perspectives on topics and we always end up having a good laugh.

5. A personal value that informs your work at IKKIVI?

Honesty. It is one of my core values and it informs almost all of my choices. I try my best to be true to myself and honest with the work that I do. The environment also plays a big part in helping me stay aligned with this value. My colleagues support my honest expression and I’m very grateful for it.

6. The silliest person in the team, in your view?

I’m afraid I might be the silliest one in the team!! But, if I had to pick another person it would be Esha. She has the funniest stories and the most bizarre experiences to share with us.

7. What are some skills or values you have learnt from each other that are now important to you?

There is so much that I am learning, consciously and subconsciously from everyone on the team but one thing that I’m actively learning and practicing is managing my time and organizing my tasks better. Other than that, I’m also learning not to dwell on things that don’t work out the way we envisioned them to. I’m able to move on more swiftly to making improvements or to testing out new ideas.

8. Can you tell us about a project you are excited to work on over the next few months?

We are approaching the new year with so many new ideas and truly, I am excited about all of them but if I had to pick one it would be the monthly shops that will be curated by different influencers on our website. I’m really excited to work with different creators and see what they put together!

ESHA VISHNOI

1. Has this been your first time being with a small business? What about this experience has been distinctive for you?

Yes, this is my first time working with a small business and I truly enjoy how inclusive the environment is. We have the freedom to ideate, tweak things based on our instincts, there is room to make mistakes and learn at every step while we move forward with the business.

2. During the pandemic, we were all working from home for over a quarter of the year. In what ways did this change re-shape your style of working? 

It was my first time working from home and although work from home comes with its comfort and advantage, I really enjoy working in the office. There are innumerable miscellaneous tasks that get completed while we are in the office which adds a lot of value to the business overall and I feel this would not have been possible otherwise.

3. What is an advice you received about work ethic that has stayed with you?

One thing I’ve picked up myself by observing the people I look up to is, always communicating!! Communication goes a long way.

4. What do you love to do together with the team?

The first thing which comes to my mind, to my surprise, is our monthly meetings. I guess I love our meetings because we come together and help each other plan and organise our tasks. For me it’s fun to know how each one of us is so different with respect to the style of working but at the end our goals align perfectly.

5. A personal value that informs your work at IKKIVI?

Integrity.

6. The silliest person in the team, in your view?

Malini & Vedhika. :p I honestly don’t have a specific reason to support my answer because I just enjoy my time at work when I’m around these two. Just a small conversation lights up my mood and we always end up having a fun time together. 🙂

7. What are some skills or values you have learnt from each other that are now important to you?

One thing I’ve learned from everyone in the team is how to organize my work to have a good work – life balance. This is one thing I’ve always struggled with for the longest time but I feel I’m getting better by the day and I have no one to thank for it but my team.

8. Can you tell us about a project you are excited to work on over the next few months?

I am super excited about our Pop-Up!! This would be my first time handling an offline event which makes it even more special for me. We would love to see you guys at our Pop-Up so please do drop by and say Hi to us.

MALINI MATHUR

1. Has this been your first time being with a small business? What about this experience has been distinctive for you?

Yes, this is my first time working with a small business. Something that has been distinctive for me about this experience is working with a close knit team and multiple people on a single project and the collaborative ethos that we have here. I’ve mostly worked independently before, and I love being able to see the range of beautiful things we can create when working together.

2. During the pandemic, we were all working from home for over a quarter of the year. In what ways did this change re-shape your style of working? 

I really struggled with time management, for months on end. A couple of weeks into working together, we all had to work from home. I was still trying to understand the nature of the work as well as know my colleagues a bit and everything felt a little scary as I didn’t know where to start. After rushing to meet timelines multiple times (and failing frequently) at the start, things (organically) began to synthesise and I was able to visualise how I can work in a way that feels enjoyable and cohesive for me. Over the course what I discovered (and am still fine tuning with each month) was that I love working with fluid schedules – so that I have my work charted out, but am not bound by any rigidity with it. I’m also really excited to see how this develops in the long run as we experiment with different verticals at IKKIVI!

3. What is an advice you received about work ethic that has stayed with you?

From my Sociology professor – “Don’t be in a hurry to ace anything. Commit to the process of  learning each thing properly and spend your time exploring things you’re least likely to do.”

4. What do you love to do together with the team?

I feel that language is all I have (and am!), so I really love talking to them, about everything – work, our fears, our experiences, our peculiarities. And ofcourse, stealing food from each other’s lunch boxes!

5. A personal value that informs your work at IKKIVI?

I wouldn’t want to necessarily ‘claim’ it as a value, but I think sincerity – about projects that I love a little less than others, things that feel scary, some days that feel really exciting and some disorienting. I try to work with that flow and knowing, because that helps me build myself from a space of being human. And I honestly feel that it’s the primary attribute that is helping me grow and open up to doing new things.

6. The silliest person in the team, in your view?

Ms. Vedhika! She can be so witty even without trying. And I love how she can switch so smoothly between different kinds of conversations. Also her sweet laugh cracks us all up 🙂

7. What are some skills or values you have learnt from each other that are now important to you?

Over the months, I think, I’ve learnt different things from everyone in our team. But I’d describe them more as values than skills. I’m just listing them below because that’s how my mind works 🙂

Ms. Nivi – the value of progress (and completion) over perfection

Rhea – the importance of revision and discipline

Ms. Vedhika – honest dialogue about any conflict that may arise when working with each other

Ms. Esha – opening up to try new things, even at the risk of them feeling scary

8. Can you tell us about a project you are excited to work on over the next few months?

Our Podcast! We’ve been running it for half a year now, but the conversations we get to have with people are so valuable that I’m excited to see what we’re going to do in the coming months with it. Ohh, and the IKKIVI pop up that we are having in February.

CREDITS

With Nivi Murthy

With Nivi Murthy

Conversations on Exploring Diverse Business Values

Working with our Founder, Nivi Murthy, we at IKKIVI, spend a lot of time together on different themes, ideas and intentions. In the everyday hubbub of our projects, we’d been missing out on some conversations we’ve wanted to have with her for a while – conversations around the heart of her inspirations, experiences over the last couple of years, and the processes she sees entrepreneurs and ethical businesses need to be a part of. We got to meet with her this month and have a heartwarming dialogue about all this and more, and even learn about what she has planned for our newest vertical – ‘The IKKIVI Podcast’.

1. IKKIVI is now 6 years old. Does the business look different from what you had envisioned when you first started out?

The business has definitely evolved over the last 6 years into also being a voice for conscious fashion and mindful living. But what has stayed with us right from the beginning is the vision and passion to support and promote Indian contemporary designers globally by being a trusted curated online shop. We are ever evolving and constantly learning to be better and all-encompassing, but our vision is clear and we look forward to making a larger positive impact on our planet and its people.

2. What key quality has helped you sustain and build your business over the years?

Perseverance and passion.

3. What does ‘business’ mean to you? Did you ever think you’d be a business owner?

Business to me is the ability to create something new for the benefit of the people and the world we live in. I have always been passionate about solving problems and finding solutions but the first time I knew with more certainty that I wanted to create something of my own was during an internship while studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology. I was exposed to the supply chain and its inefficiencies leading to the problem of overstock and harmful impact to the environment with little being done about it. That’s when I felt the need to create and build something of my own that would have a positive impact.

4. You’ve had a full time team join you this year. But everyone had to work remotely for several months right at the start, due to the pandemic and lockdowns. What was that like for you? As a Founder and business owner, how did you navigate through all the changes and hiccups that came with that time?

I am grateful for the dedicated team we have at IKKIVI. I personally enjoy working with people and understanding them so I would say it was difficult that we had to work remotely almost immediately but we made Zoom work for us. We set up some processes right in the beginning so we could work towards our weekly and monthly objectives and tried to just put our heads down and go with what we could do considering the situation we were dealing with together.

However, now, I am more than happy that we get to work together in the office, we enjoy each other’s company, laugh more than required (haha) and are most importantly able to create so much more together in person.

5. What is a challenge you think every ethical and small business faces, and how do you think one can stay grounded and steady through it?

The idea that everything must be perfect. I think as small ethical businesses we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be perfect in all areas of the business and forget that it is a process of learning and evolving. I believe in the idea of progress over perfection and feel that one small step in the right direction is a start and those many steps over a period of time will only have a larger and larger positive impact. It is important to be kind to ourselves and commit to the idea of constantly learning and improving.

6. You launched a podcast this July and it’s been so refreshing to hear one on conscious living. What can we expect with it in the next few months?

I am so excited about our podcast! I thoroughly enjoy meeting people, having conversations and understanding the choices they make in their lives. This podcast has conversations with some very cool and interesting people on living very intentional and mindful lives. We hope through this podcast we can continue to encourage and empower our listeners to live more fully and craft the lives that they want to uniquely live. We have artists, entrepreneurs, activists and change makers lined up over the next few months and we’re really thrilled for you to be a part of this journey with us.

7. Any book or podcast recommendations on running a business that you can share with us? 

This past year I enjoyed listening to ‘The Farrynheight Podcast’.

8. A quote that you live by?

“Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence” – Ovid

CREDITS

Coming closer to Our Selves

Coming closer to Our Selves

An Embodied Approach to Connecting with our Bodies

Our bodies are the medium through which we experience the world and ourselves, yet also the central object of our being that we can often feel most critical of. As we try to take a step further into understanding our bodies, we invite you to reflect with us on the ways in which we can see it for what it is, away from what cultural conditioning, media and contemporary narratives espouse.

1.Getting to know our body

Our bodies change continually, and something we have found essential to accepting and learning about our bodies is the need to let go of the idea that they won’t or shouldn’t change. The more we are able to meditate on how natural it is for our bodies – like everything else in nature – to change shape, the more we will be able to connect deeply with the reality and novelty of its ever-changing nature. As a practice, we encourage that we engage with our body in different ways. To touch and feel the different textures, bumps and birthmarks that embrace it. To do a body-scan to see how our body is feeling physically (after a meal, a long day, a good run, a hectic day, and the like). To understand its language of communicating with us. To dress ourselves affectionately in different styles and observe what emotions stem forth and how we respond to them. Mindfully engaging with our bodies in this way grants us the opportunity to build an intimate and realistic relationship with it and to become involved in its movements and feelings.

2.Accepting our body as it is

Each of us has a unique body type, and there is no definitive shape that is healthier than the other. We believe that as part of living more consciously, it is imperative that we start working toward and resting in the feeling of health and acceptance, overlooking a way that has been prescribed by someone else. Committing to recognising that all kinds of bodies are worthy of love, representation and acceptance is a step toward acknowledging that we wish to have not only a healthy body, but a healthy lifestyle and personal dialogue with our body and selves. Cultivating body neutrality can be an authentic way of conversing with ourselves and being human, toward our very human bodies. Watching who we are, what we do and how we think about our body can become a spring to initiate healing and identify that we are much more than our bodies.

3.Questioning normative and cultural conceptions

The cultural ideals of beauty have long displayed a singular portrait that have enabled size discrimination, racism, and ableism, unfortunately, affecting the way we feel about ourselves. Questioning frameworks that pit us against ourselves and one another, consciously contemplating and building our personal values, as well as contributing to the larger conversation on body politics are all ways for us to challenge the status quo and play a personal and active role in bringing about an inclusive account of beauty. Concurrently, partaking in routines that help us feel good and at home with our bodies can affirm our resonance with the dynamism of our bodies.

CREDITS