I got a lovely email from Lauren the other day to tell me she'd returned from a wonderful trip in Bali to visit John Hardy's factory and and to share some of her thoughts about this amazing and educational trip.
Here are some pictures she sent me along with some responses to questions I'd asked before she left:
What kinds of activities you get to do?
On the first day, I went to John Hardy's workshop in Ubud.I got a tour around the workshop from the design department, production department, the kitchen, and the showroom. The workshop is a really big land that has 650 employees inside. After the tour, I got the chance to have lunch at the workshop’s long table with the other guests that visited John Hardy’s workshop. The lunch is really great. Everyday, John Hardy’s kitchen cooks for 650 employees organic lunch. They obtain the ingredients from mostly the local farmers so they could give better economy for the locals. After lunch, I designed a charm for John Hardy’s bracelet and got the chance to carve the wax. The design process is fine, but the wax carving is really hard. All the wax carvers there carve intricate designs like dragon, or tiger really fast.
The next day, I went to East Bali to go to Ban Village. It is the place of John Hardy’s Bamboo Plantation in partnership with David Booth for East Bali Poverty Project. Around 10 years back, Ban village was a really poor village. The land in Ban Village is not fertile so it is hard to grow vegetables and fruits. They hardly get any education and water is really scarce. They need to drink from the rainwater. This caused their health condition to be not really good. There was not any road to go to this village, so the government did not know the existence of this village. Then came David Booth who helped them through education. He brought a big change into the village. Now, the village has its name in the map, they know how to grow some vegetables that are able to grow there and there is a road to go to the village.
John Hardy’s company helped David Booth’s East Bali Poverty Project through planting bamboo for the better economy of the village and environmental sustainability. Bamboo is a fast growing plant. It can be harvested multiple times, not like wood that once we chop it, and that’s it. For some type of bamboo we can use the whole thing from the root, leaves, and the shoot. They educated the people in Ban Village on how to create handicrafts from bamboo, so they could sell it. I got to plant three bamboo plants there, meet the David Booth, and the people in Ban Village. They are all really amazing. They taught me how to weave a rice basket from bamboo. The kids there, after school, they help their parents in making the handicrafts. They are really talented and amazing people.
The next day, I got to visit the Aga village and see how they produce double ikat fabric. Most of the processes are all by hand. Starting with the dye, they use natural dye like indigo, tree bark, turmeric, and nutmeg. They produce their own threads by spinning it from the cotton balls. Currently, there is only one person that still produces the threads. He is called Mr. Raji. He taught me how to spin the cotton balls which is not easy. Mr. Raji’s daughter does the weaving of double ikat fabric.
On the last day in Bali, I followed a temple ceremony in the workshop, which is the temple’s birthday ceremony. It was really serene and I was really glad to be able to join the ceremony with John Hardy’s team.
What have you learned about how John Hardy incorporates sustainability in their design process?
The idea of sustainability is visible through the working process of John Hardy’s jewelries, the environment, the workshops, even the lunch that they have. In the process of making the jewelries, they use reclaimed silver to produce their jewelries. To preserve the natural situation there, the John Hardy brand does not change a lot of the nature before they build the workshop and showroom. For example in the Kapal Bambu showroom, they preserved the rice field that already existed before they moved to Ubud. Kapal Bambu itself is made to be able to be disassembled and could be rebuilt if they need to move from the current location in Ubud, as the company grows. I am really impressed on how in John Hardy Ubud Workshop and Showroom, all of the aspects are well thought out for nature preservation and development of the company.
How has the trip inspired you as a designer working to promote sustainable fashion design?
This trip let me see how far sustainability could be brought in a brand. I get to experience a lot of new things and see the possibility to be a sustainable and ethical brand. I am really impressed with John Hardy brand that works well both in their design and be a good brand that think about the environment and the community. It is really inspired me to always give back to the community and environment as they gave me the experience of how good it feels when a work could bring a good cause.
Thank you so much Laurensia for sharing your experiences with us. With this opportunity to inspire you and your talent for designing clothes, I know you'll create amazing pieces. I look forward to working together again.
It's so inspiring to see how a company like John Hardy incorporates sustainability into all that they do, from their designs, to how they build their factory, to how they impact (and help) the environment around them and the people who work for them.
I'm also so impressed by the fact that this opportunity was the special prize given to her by the Eco Chic Design Awards. With NGOs like Redress HK raising awareness about textile waste and the impact fast fashion has on our environment to the Fashion Revolution movement asking people who made their clothes to remember those who died in the Bangladesh factory collapse, sustainable and ethical fashion is here to stay.