How ‘Fast’ Can We ‘Slow’ Down?

How ‘Fast’ Can We ‘Slow’ Down?

A Glance Into the Problematics of Change

With slow fashion trying to change the dynamics of the fashion business, our designer Neha Kabra from our sustainable brand Maati by Neha Kabra, speaks about the contradictions the trailblazers of the ‘slow’ industry are recurrently met with in the face of the insatiable demands of fast production and consumption.

What does a fashion revolution mean to you, and how does that play a role in the way the brand keeps evolving?

A fashion revolution is where we address the real problems, the core matters, and not just use it as a fad word or keep it as a trend. It’s where we talk about the raw material problem and the landfill problem, and how to tackle it.

What are some of the problems that you’ve seen come up in these everyday processes of sustainability?

Each process has its own problems. And when we talk about slow fashion, when we talk about sustainable brands,churning four or five collections, a year is practically not possible. I mean, there’s nothing slow about it. And in fashion, I think each process, say even if the fabrics are produced, the weavers I work with, it takes nearly two months to produce 50 meters of fabric.

One loom only produces around 12 meters of fabric in one go. And that takes nearly a good one month. So there are multiple looms working to do that and if the fabric only takes two months to come and then the actual production takes place. So it has its own timeline and the constant need in fashion to have something “new” constantly has unfortunately become a cultural practice. That we see something and we want it and to produce that design immediately is something beyond my imagination as production takes such a long time. And to bring that change I think is more of a challenge at the moment. Yes, people are aware about sustainability, people are aware about the story and where it’s coming from, but still, constantly wanting something new is a very, very big challenge.

 Do you feel that that’s a change that might be coming soon? Or do you feel that it’s gonna be a really slow shift where we’re actually able to become accustomed to or understand that we need to consume more mindfully? That it’s not just that production needs to be slower, but the rate of consumption needs to be slower.

I don’t want to sound pessimistic but sometimes pessimism is what supports us to reaching toward that goal. But I do feel it’s far away for everybody right now. By the end of it, everybody looks for business. For everybody, it’s easier to produce at a larger scale  money wise. They say it’s easier to produce 50 pieces in one design than producing one of 50 new designs. And the constant need of needing new, new, new – how do you let that go completely? The culture we are living in is a very fast culture. So it’s not only fast fashion, but fast lives we are living in. With the social media impact, I’m not saying it’s all bad, always, but by now in our culture, there’s so many other brands which are even expediting fast fashion. Even if you want to reverse the phenomena, there are a lot of brands on the opposite side. So while we are actually running into the direction of slow fashion, there is also a lot of expedited fast fashion. I don’t see it happening, fast, but I’m hoping that the change will come because this is exactly like when I started – people were not aware about what sustainable fashion is. Especially in India, I think four or five years down before the word was just becoming a trend. But now I think most people, after having been affected by Covid – 19 are much, much more aware about it. People have become wiser on their spending. They’re not just buying for the sake of it. So I think change will come. It’s taking its own sweet time, but it will come, it has to.

When you’re exploring new fabrics or materials, what kind of input do you get from the artisans? Do they often already know about it or are they also exploring them with you? 

It’s both. So when there was a fabric like bamboo, there was still awareness that the fabric is being made. We get the samples, we all touch, feel, see what works for us, what doesn’t work for us. But in bamboo there are so many weaves that are coming in. And when we get those and when we all sit together that’s what amazes them and where we all explore together.

They sometimes really can’t believe that our world has so much technology that is a boon. That’s what strikes them. They feel that this is going to be for the better. And at the same time, it’s slightly worrisome for them too because they are concerned that if people will shift to different styles given the state of fast fashion. There are pros and cons of both. But you have to constantly tell them that “no, (y)our practice is completely different”. You still have to make them [artisans] believe that what you are doing is absolutely fine because they’re growing everything organically. For example, kala cotton is a wild cotton grown naturally without any pesticides and insecticides. So you have to constantly assure them that what you are doing, your process is good and it’s not going to go anywhere. But of course, they (and all of us) do have to accept some of the changes we see coming in fashion – whether for better or worse.

CREDITS

For the Love of Fabrics

For the Love of Fabrics

Telling Tales of Threads

High quality materials and craftsmanship are the cornerstone of all our brands. At IKKIVI Zine, we spoke with Aarushi Kilawat, Founder and Creative Head of The Loom Art about her deep connections to fabrics, what a revolution means for her, and how she believes we can cooperate in the face of competition.

What does a fashion revolution mean for you and The Loom Art?

A fashion revolution is a larger word with a lot of weight. From when we started to where we are now, we have mellowed down with the word and how we use it – sometimes a revolution doesn’t have to be put out in such big letters. As people, our own journey with a fashion revolution is one where we are trying to understand what it means in which context. But for us at The Loom Art, what a fashion revolution really means is that we need to keep re-doing ourselves and the ideologies we have been working on. What we see is that post the pandemic, people are more aware of slow fashion and slow living, and how we can sustain ourselves with bare necessities. Our challenge now is to see how long we can sustain that lifestyle.

None of us can always do the right thing in every direction, and so with a fashion revolution, it’s important for us to find our own direction. For The Loom Art it’s about people who work with us. I am someone who loves being involved with my people, not just professionally but also emotionally. The whole essence of people who work at the ground level – our artisans – are our backbone. It’s about being able to offer them a livelihood, and encourage their younger generations and communities to pursue careers and be part of this craft.

Have you been working with the same artisans for the last 5 years?

Yes, the team I started with is still with me. We’ve grown ofcourse. And we’ve all been very emotionally involved in the growth of the team. There’s a different high to that altogether – we’ve gone from a team of 3 to 25 now. And all of them know what we (The Loom Art) are about, even though they weren’t all from the same background when we started.

What are the fabrics you work with and why do you choose them?

Until 3 years ago, we primarily used only khadi as it is a fabric that can last a lifetime. Now we’ve expanded our range, but only to include other handwoven fabrics. Along with khadi, we now do a variety of silks and linen. I love to hold and smell the fabric and I love how India is so rich in craft. Each of these fabrics has a tremendous amount of potential to be made into different silhouettes, and with each, the pieces would still be gorgeous.The fall, the texture, everything comes through with these fabrics. I also choose to work with them as the garments made from these fabrics are exceptionally durable and each piece of clothing can be passed on from generation to generation. I like the feeling that it travels a journey and passes on to another person, to have another story.

There is a general notion that sustainable businesses should stay or be small; that when they scale up too much it becomes harder to maintain sustainable practices. Do you think there is some truth to this idea?

Yes, but not completely. You need to be able to follow certain practices and maintain quality over and above everything. You never want to lose our essence due to the pressures of quantity, and if you get too wrapped up with the numbers game, you might lose your ground. The middle ground is always there where you can do your thing, offer it to others at a growing scale domestically and internationally, and still stay sustainable. That middle ground is key.

Customers and consumers were limited to shopping online during the pandemic. We consequently see a lot of competition for attention in the digital space for lower price points from customers over what may be sustainable. Does this ever have an impact on your work?

Yes, sometimes there is a fight for attention. But what we are trying to do is create a conscious community, not force anyone to do something. Keeping up with trends works for some people, and that’s okay. There are people who love what we do at The Loom Art as well as in sustainable fashion, and want to know more. Those are the people we want to work for and are working for. People have lost the idea of touching and feeling and knowing the garment and understanding why it costs what it costs, especially when made ethically. It becomes a challenge and I have also struggled with it. But we have been able to create a valuable section of consumers who know what we are, see our brand value and support our work. For them and for us, it’s not just about sales. It is about having  a conversation and narrating your story, as well as building a community through physical interaction. What I think is most important to understand is what you do and why you do it.

CREDITS

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

The IKKIVI Pop Up

The IKKIVI Pop Up

Bangalore Diaries

Two years since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, we held a pop up in mid March in Bangalore, India. A sweet, socially distanced event that was all about celebrating and having fun with sustainable and vintage fashion, we loved spending time with our customers and friends in person after such a long time.

While we have consciously chosen to have our shop online to ensure that we make our clothes to order as much as possible, prevent overstock and minimize wastage, we had some starkly pleasurable moments when we set up shop that have certainly inspired us to have pop ups more often!

1. The tactility of a garment creates an unparalleled connection

Meeting people and seeing them feel excitement and wonder through touching, holding and trying a garment as a truly unparalleled experience was heartwarming and telling of how phenomenological our relationship with clothing is really designed to be. The comforts of shopping for sustainable fashion online, though equally undeniable, do still hide from us the immediate, felt emotions that arise upon sensing and feeling the softness of a fabric, running our fingers through the stitches of a fold, imagining where and how we would don this style, understanding the differences between ‘fit’ and ‘size’ with each style, and feeling clarity and surety in investing in a product.

2. The experience of our community

It was so delightful to meet people from all walks of life, talk about clothing and homeware, share with each other our learnings and challenges within sustainability, know what we are all up to, and truly enjoy the beauty and playfulness of fashion together through the days. This sense of community inspired and rejuvenated us all alike to keep with our commitment to living consciously and making a change in the fashion industry.

3. The joy of discovery

One of the most valuable things we saw people find joy in, was experiencing the wide-ranging independent sustainable Indian brands that are innovating with different tools and resources, and uniquely blending traditional fabrics, techniques and modern styling to design contemporary silhouettes. Getting an insight into our homegrown clothing brands Artisan Luxe and Doodlage, jewellery and accessories brands such as Roma Narsinghani, STEM, and Carte Blanche, and tableware brand The Burrow, along with many others, allowed everyone to not just shop if they needed to, but explore freely and build on the idea of cultivating a conscious wardrobe and lifestyle.

As the central and state restrictions on holding public events get further relaxed now, we’ll be having a lot more pop ups through the year and would love to see you at them. To know more about when and where our next pop up will be, please follow our Instagram page. And ofcourse, you can always shop our mindfully curated collections online whenever you like.

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

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Can Taking on Zero Waste Cooking be Uncomplicated?

Can Taking on Zero Waste Cooking be Uncomplicated?

Taking a Closer Look at the Sustainable Practice

“Food is everything. It is nourishment. It is love. It is political. And our industrial system is wreaking havoc on our planet. So food is a good place to start when trying to live more sustainably. Food offers the opportunity to make more conscious choices three times a day (plus snacks!)”, says cookbook author, speaker and Zerowaste Chef, Anne-Marie Bonneau. To understand how simple or difficult low (to zero) waste cooking is, what myths around the lifestyle can derail us from its practice and how we can inspire ourselves to be more playful yet mindful with food, we, at IKKIVI Zine spoke with her this month and learnt some invaluable features about it. We hope these can support and further your own relationship with food and the environment, and bring newness to your everyday experiences with it.

1. What made you start zerowastechef? How has your journey with it been over the years?

Reading about plastic pollution in the oceans and its devastating effects on the oceans’ inhabitants started me on this journey. I decided on the spot that I would break up with plastic (doing so took several months). I then read about food waste—in the US, nearly 40 percent of the food we produce goes uneaten. That is an astonishing and absurd number. A couple of years into this lifestyle, I realized that I hadn’t had a cold or flu since I had changed my lifestyle. That came as a huge surprise. Cutting the plastic cleaned up my diet. Living more intentionally has also brought me so much joy. I never want to go back to the old days!

2. Could you tell us about your favorite part of the cooking process? (And your least favorite too!)

Cleaning is probably my least favorite task, although I love the results—a clean, organized kitchen. My favorite part of cooking is experimenting. Inspired to try something new with ingredients I have on hand has led to dishes and discoveries that I would not otherwise have made had I not imposed these constraints—to waste nothing—on myself.

3. We all learn differently – some of us respond more to books, some of us take to visuals and videos. How did you learn and develop this art of zero waste cooking?

I learned to ferment food and bake sourdough through books (I love books). Once I learned the basics, I started to experiment, which is not only fun but also reduces food waste. Fermentation plays a big role in preserving food in my kitchen—which reduces food waste. It also adds incredible flavors to food.

4. Through the course of the pandemic these last two years, a lot of us took to the kitchen and cooked more, cultivating a more intimate relationship with food. But many of us have also gone the other way – where in the thick of the stresses, we have lost the degree of connection we had with it. Food in one sense, just became about eating for the need and sake of eating. How can we go back to it, this time more mindfully than before?

I think getting back to cooking for nourishment and pleasure requires a shift in mindset, like any lifestyle change. I think you take it one day—or one meal—at a time and don’t stress about the big picture. And keep in mind all the work and resources that went into producing our food. Respect and gratitude for food will bring more joy to cooking.

5. Often we get discouraged and disinterested in starting something new or in staying committed to it, if it feels too difficult or time consuming. How can we make learning and practicing zero or low waste cooking fun and engaging for ourselves in the midst of hectic days and schedules?

Cooking with what you have on hand saves time and money. You won’t have to run out to the grocery store for that one missing ingredient. Make do and experiment with what you have on hand. When you do cook, make it worth your while and cook a double batch of whatever—if you will eat it all! Freeze some of that food to enjoy later. Cook once, eat twice (or three times).

6. What are some challenges people can expect to experience when they start practicing low or zero waste cooking and living?

Don’t let the “zero” in “zero waste” scare you or induce paralysis. Zero waste is merely a goal. Even if you don’t bring any plastic into your own home, plastic and other waste hide in the supply chain unseen behind almost everything we buy. So, don’t expect to be perfect—it’s not possible. And don’t expect to overhaul your lifestyle overnight. Just try to make a couple of changes, get them down and then try some more.

7. Sometimes we may not immediately be able to adopt a zero waste lifestyle. But we can try to produce as minimal waste as possible. Could you share with us some mindful and eco-conscious methods of disposing of the waste that is created in our homes?

A couple of strategies will have a big impact. Reducing food waste is one of the most impactful actions you can take. Food waste accounts for 8 to 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the US. To put that into perspective, aviation accounts for about 2.5 percent of global emissions. So eat all the food you buy. There is no downside to doing that.

Composting is also crucial. Food waste—when it does happen—and food scraps should never go to a landfill. In a landfill, food becomes compacted and cut off of oxygen. The anaerobic bacteria that break it down emit methane, a greenhouse gas that is much more potent than carbon dioxide in the short term. If you have access to a yard, start a pile in the corner of it. You don’t even need to build a bin if you don’t want to. You can also pit compost—bury the food scraps in the ground. If you can’t compost in a yard, look for community gardens or farms that offer dropoff of your scraps. You can also compost indoors with worms. I once saw a worm bin that serves as an ottoman in someone’s living room! Of course, you can keep a worm but out of sight, in a cupboard or closet.

If you no longer want an item—clothes, furniture, kitchenware, for example—someone else likely does. Try to find a home for your unwanted items. Recycling is a last resort—prevention is key—and plastic has an abysmally low recycling rate (about 9 percent in the US). But put any recyclables in the bin. Some items do have a high recycling rate, such as aluminum cans.

8. What is one myth about zero waste cooking and living that you think needs to be debunked? And how can we do so?

People think zero-waste living costs a lot of money. I save money. I tell people the lifestyle is a package deal. Yes, local organic produce often costs more than non-organic industrially produced food, for example, but I eat all of the food I buy, which saves a small fortune. The average family of four in the US spends $1800 a year on food that goes uneaten. I eat lower on the food chain—lots of fruit and vegetables, beans and lentils and whole grains. I don’t buy things I don’t need. I recently moved and packing is not my favorite thing. If you’re tempted to buy something that you may not need, ask yourself if you want to pack it up one day when you move! That will stop many impulse buys. When I do buy something I need, I try to find it second-hand. I’m also fairly handy at repairing things—and at finding someone to pay to repair things. I had my sewing machine repaired this summer. The repairman tried to talk me into buying a new one (he also sells machines). Mine is much nicer than the new ones and using it until it can no longer be repaired is much more sustainable.

9. What are some of the difficulties you still experience when practicing a conscious lifestyle? 

I have access to year-round farmers’ markets and very good bulk stores and I am able to compost. So I don’t find the lifestyle difficult here. Also, I was raised in a very religious household and trained to live consciously. So I would say the most difficult part of this lifestyle is other people’s expectations—which is really true of life in general. People want to give me things I don’t want (my family now knows not to). I really don’t want more stuff. So that can lead to some awkward situations.

10. What are the projects or learnings you are currently dedicated to? How is the rest of the year looking for you? 

I’m attempting to rewild my yard. I recently moved back to my house after having lived in an intentional community for 15 years. I’d like to tear up at least some of the heat-retaining concrete in the backyard and replace it with native plants to attract pollinators. I’ve been saving logs from felled trees and branches and plan to build some raised hugelkultur beds outside for growing more vegetables. I’ll also plant a few more fruit trees.

If you’d like to know about Anne-Marie’s work, you can visit her website and Instagram page.

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Slow Living in Big Cities

Slow Living in Big Cities

Conversations on the Paradoxes of a City

Our lives revolve around urban cityscapes in a myriad of ways – as spaces of imagination, interaction and conflict, with every movement we make. Shaping the structures and discourses of a large part of our contemporary life, cities have growingly become the proverbial thread that links us to – and often separates us from – ourselves. With all their eminence and bustle, cities present us with a seemingly contradictory question – can we really practice slow living in big cities? At IKKIVI, we spoke with a few artists to understand how they think of the city, their engagements and quarrels with its guises and whether it can become a meaningful conduit to live more consciously and slowly.

NILANJANA BHATTACHARJEE

1.Your photography centres greatly on the ‘city’. Could you tell us a little about what the ‘city’ signifies for you, and how you would define it?

To me, the city is its light hum – the movement of vehicles, infuriating and consistent drilling noises from an ever-present construction site, rain befalling noisy roofs, three languages in one address. To me, the city is the sound and feeling of something in the works, of constant company and the people, stories and futures the audible movement of a city reminds us of. It moonlights as a fast paced life, but I feel so much is germinating – taking its time to come up. The city to me, primarily, is one that is constantly becoming. It is never quite complete and thus unsteady on borders – I find that very comforting, to think of a city that is yet to find out what becomes of it, much like most of its inhabitants.

 2. Your pictures have a particular nuance to them – as though you have intentionally photographed a scene mid movement. In what ways would you say your photography has a ‘slow’ character to it? 

It is photographing the city ‘becoming’ that is the fundamental essence of my documentation of it – most things I photograph seem incomplete. Which is why, almost as if by muscle memory, my frames seem to often have fragments of ‘another’ (person, object), or elements (people, spaces, contexts) in conversation with each other. It is like walking into a conversation mid-way,

you caught the last few words and it is photographing the articulation of what that moment would be, that is the feeling I document with. I like to photograph different portraits of what a slow city would look like – a cat lazily stretched into a snooze on a triple storeyed concrete landing canopied above with dusty, swaying trees, how sunlight makes different afternoons in different cities, how trees and plants consume the skeletons of concrete (old) buildings. I like to pause and indulge in collecting characters of the city that are forgotten on a hot, busy day in the city.

And while the city may be fast paced, it is an immersive experience in itself. It is precisely how consuming and demanding the city can be that prompts me to stop and find its various resting corners. Urban living is such a multi-dimensional phenomenon, but it is precisely that relentless integration of differences that makes me want to untangle it in my own language. It is a slow process, I’m only starting now. It makes me want to understand urban living beyond consumption, and as immersion – the latter being more purposeful in seeking, rather than aggressively consuming.

BETH CRANE

3. In what manner does your work interconnect with ‘slow living’? What was your intention behind starting ‘Slow Living LDN’? 

Slow Living LDN began as a personal project while living in London. I realised I wasn’t prioritising my well-being or other things that were important to me, aside from my career. I remember looking around at all the other tired-faced commuters and thinking, “I can’t be the only one who feels like this.” I started researching slow living for myself, but also wanted to share this way of living with others. Today, Slow Living LDN aims to inspire others to live more consciously, both for their own sense of well-being, and that of the planet.

4. What kind of growth or insights has the platform and your work inspired in your life, and in your vision of it?

Embracing slow living has helped me understand that always being ‘on’, busy or productive doesn’t equal success and it definitely doesn’t equal good health. Our lives are always in flux, and sometimes we’ll feel like we’re living in tune with our values and at other times, we’ll feel so far from that. So, I don’t believe in the concept of work-life balance, as it assumes work is not part of life, and that a perfect balance is attainable – it’s not.  I’ve also been reminded of the importance of nature for our well-being and how I find joy in living seasonally, and how this also helps me strive to live more sustainably, too.

EMMA FREEMAN

5. Your art concentrates deeply on contemplative and slow living. Could you tell us a little about what these terms and ideas mean for you? 

I love the definition of contemplation that I heard once, “a long, loving look.” For me, contemplation means that I am spending quiet time going deep within myself, deep within the world and deep within my art which brings back up to the surface such beautiful gifts that emerge as poetry, as stitching, as insights, as healing. I used to live a very fast paced life, always rushing around doing many things at once which left me constantly exhausted. Slow living has been a return to the natural pace and rhythm of my body and the way that we as humans were designed, to be deeply connected to nature and the pace it follows.

6.  The pace of life in big cities often provide(s) quite a contrast to mindful, immersive practices such as with your art. What role and influence have city and urban living played in your draw toward these practices? 

I have lived in cities for most of my adult life. I love the vibrancy, diversity and energy of cities. There is so much life happening within them. When I was living in Brooklyn, New York and working in Midtown Manhattan, I found myself craving something I couldn’t put my finger on. One day I decided to try making cyanotypes (also known as sun prints) on the roof of my apartment building. I walked along the sidewalk and picked bits of grass and leaves and experimented with making prints of them with the sun. I found myself coming alive in a new way through that experience. I felt like I was returning to a relationship with nature that I was forgetting by being surrounded by concrete and tall buildings, by commuting long hours on the subway and by working in an office with no windows or natural light. This art practice made me feel like I could breathe again. The role of the city was essential in that awakening because it was through the experience of suffering and feeling a deep longing for something, that I found a great peace within the art practice of collaborating with the sun and with the plants right in the middle of the city. I think having the experiences of living in cities has helped me feel intimately how much my soul longs for the trees and the sky, to hear the birds and the sound of my own inner silence.

LINA PACIELLO

7. What comes to your mind when you think of ‘slow living’?  

I believe slow living is about being more thoughtful and mindful. It’s not about doing everything slowly but rather at the right pace. Sometimes you need a slow walk on the beach, other days the body craves a run through the woods. It’s about letting things take the time that it needs and enjoying the process, not just the final result. Slow living as a concept was born from the slow cooking culture in south of italy where I have my roots so that’s a natural state of mind I have. We all love a sugo that has simmered for hours and that’s something you can apply to many aspects of life.

And it might sound cliché but by not rushing through life you learn to savor it. I have practiced so much in being in the present that I now am a complete ”here and now person” it has made me realize how precious life is and that we never will experience this very moment again so I inhale life as much as I can

8. Do you think such conscious or slow living practices are sustainable in big cities? What do you think we as common folk can do to connect more deeply with this lifestyle within the cities that we live in? 

The city is full of things that go very well with a mindful and slow living lifestyle. Sitting at a cafe looking at people or reading a book, walking in parks, going to old bookstores or antique shops. And not to forget museums and art exhibitions. These are all favorites of mine and I wouldn’t wanna be without them. Slow living isn’t so much about where you live but more a question of mindset.

TANYA KUZNETSOVA

9. Do you think ‘slow living in big cities’ is a contradiction?

The idea that living a sustainable, slow, mindful life is only possible in a rural setting largely comes from Instagram and all the image-crafting that takes place there. I firmly believe that any one of us can choose to live a conscious, green life regardless of where we are based, city or country! Cities are not going anywhere, and they are an environment in which vast swathes of humanity exist. It may feel counterintuitive, but life in a city – even a big one – can be just as sustainable if you continue to make the right choices. You can do things such as grow a patch of wildflowers for bees if you have a garden or even a windowsill in the city. You can pack your lunch, bring your own cutlery, or your reusable cup, and refill your water bottle. You can grow herbs for your cooking instead of always buying them in plastic, even if, again, all you have is a windowsill. You can be mindful of how many times you wear an item of clothing before washing it. The hustle and bustle of a big city cannot be an excuse to hide from the work towards better choices.

10. Beginning with mindful, conscious practices or activities (can) sometimes feel overwhelming, as there is much that can be done. Where do you feel may be a good place to start, for those who would like to welcome these practices in different forms in their own life?

I think that one of the reasons that people who live in a fast-paced, urban setting often find it harder to engage with more slow, mindful practices in their beauty or self-care routine, is because being busy becomes your default state. It is easy to be always on the go, especially if you don’t see much nature in your day-to-day life. We need to make time to slow down and notice things around, but it’s not impossible! If it feels overwhelming, or like it is yet another chore, I would suggest starting small. Commit to one positive mindful change, whatever calls to you the most. It can be switching to a bamboo toothbrush or meditating for five minutes in the morning. It can be committing to using up to what you already have in your bathroom and not buying more products on a whim. Anything to get you in the right mindset! Commit to that change for one month. Next month, add another small change and keep building towards a better lifestyle.

The five wonderful women we interviewed here are Nilanjana Bhattacharjee, Emma Freeman, Tanya Kuznetsova, Lina Paciello and Beth Crane and all images in this article are by them.

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Everything You Need to Know About Microplastics

Everything You Need to Know About Microplastics

An overview of the science, intersectional social justice implications, and actionable items we can all use.

Microplastics are the invisible yet utterly omnipresent physical manifestation of petro-colonialism in the 21st century. Let’s unpack what that means through an intersectional lens and explore how we can mitigate and minimize their impacts.

The Basics

The scientific definition of a microplastic is a plastic particle which measures ≤5mm in diameter (so, about ½ a cm). A key understanding at the outset is that microplastics are literally everywhere — they’ve been found at the tops of the Himalayas, the bottom of the Mariana Trench, in every sampled body of water, in soils, in the arctic (I was there for that one), and, naturally, in our bodies.

The following describes what the lifecycle of a single microplastic might look like. There are many different types of plastics (PET, LDPE, HDPE, etc.) and subcategories of microplastics (fibers make up the overwhelming majority) but let’s focus on what most people think of when they hear ‘microplastic.’ Firstly, crude oil is extracted from the earth (99% of microplastics are made from fossil fuels) 1 , this oil is transported to various refineries to undergo various chemical refinements, and finally it is molded into a piece of macroplastic (let’s say, a plastic detergent bottle). Because the US only recycles 15% of waste, that detergent bottle will either disintegrate into microplastics in landfill, and/or be carried out to the nearest body of water. In either case, the bottle will become brittle from sunlight and break down into infinite tiny pieces. Those pieces will circulate the various systems of the earth, infiltrate the marine food chain, move through our bodies (humans consume a credit card worth of plastic per week), and possibly over time sink to the bottom of the ocean. 2

Exploring the Intersectional Impacts of Microplastics

I believe that microplastics impact everybody and every industry, which sounds scary but also means that everybody and every industry has access to solving the problem. The onus is very much on industry and politicians, but I include the everyday consumer in this equation because this is one of the few areas of the climate crisis where individuals’ consumption and political decisions have a potentially significant impact.

‘Wait, you said ‘climate crisis’ but we’re talking about microplastics.’ Yes, the plastic issue is the climate issue. Fossil fuel companies plan to ramp up plastic production by 40% as use for energy and transportation declines in the coming decades. 3

And where does most fossil fuel extraction happen? BIPOC communities, many of which are currently fighting plastics plants in their own backyards. For example, Sharon Lavigne is fighting the Formosa Plastics Plant in Cancer Alley, LA, and Pueblo Action Alliance is protecting sacred sites, like Chaco Canyon, from fracking development.

Microplastics are colonizing our bodies, just like they colonize every corner of the earth.4 Many of these fossil fuel extraction sites decimate water supplies for local communities, forcing them to rely on bottled water. Unfortunately, bottled water contains 2x the concentration of microplastics as does tap.5 This furthers the physical burden of plastic pollution and microplastics on BIPOC and low-income communities.

Microplastics also impact the bodies of folks of the global majority disproportionately by way of seafood. Those most impacted are the millions of communities globally who rely on seafood for a key protein source and deeply rooted cultural practice. Because microplastics are fully integrated into the food chain, folks have no choice but to continue consuming seafood which contains toxins within, and attached to, microplastics, and is stored in fatty tissues of fish.6

BIPOC and folks of the Global South also play a key, and often invisible, role in recycling and handling plastic. Many of these folks are trash pickers, and many of these countries have had developed nations’ plastic and textile waste forced upon them to deal with.

Minimizing Exposure and Solutions

Because the plastics problem is a climate problem, it is an intersectional justice problem. We must uplift and amplify BIPOC voices, which includes demanding fair voter rights legislation. Call your representatives and advocate for taxes, bans, Extended Producer Responsibility bills, and a carbon tax and dividend. Support grassroots organizations fighting to stop petrochemical plant development and pipeline construction. Support by volunteering, donating, or amplifying their essential work.

Individual actions do matter, especially when you communicate about what you’re doing with those around you. Many reusable alternatives are not financially accessible to low-income folks and BIPOC (another example of plastic’s intersectional issues). If it is accessible to you, simply eliminating disposables and reducing microfiber shedding by wearing natural fibers is a best case scenario on the personal level. However we must be critical of technical and chemical solutions: many recent innovations like the bioplastics realm are ‘less worse’ replacements for the problem and do not negate the issue. Bioplastics are not only counterproductive, they are bad for our health. Many bioplastics break down into methane, a greenhouse gas which is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide. In fact, researchers at Stanford have created a technology that converts methane gas into PHA, which is sold to plastic producers. The problem? PHA breaks back down into methane, and this cycle only furthers our plastics addiction and climate crisis. You have immense power, but going from one convenience product to a less toxic convenience product is a detour from the solution.

It is in reframing our understanding of plastics and microplastics as a climate and environmental justice issue that we can build a diverse community and demand change on the consumer, political, and community level. Our responsibility is not to save the earth by cutting down on plastic coffee cups (contrary to the corporate marketing that bombards us constantly), but to push our elected officials — who work for us — to turn the ship around. As mentioned above, communicating to your reps and companies you support that you demand EPR and a Carbon Tax (hello H.R. 2307!) is absolutely key. And any personal behavioral change you do adopt is still extremely helpful — keep it up.

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SLOW WORK

SLOW WORK

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.

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