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After Yrs With Manufacturers in Europe, I Constructed a Sustainable Style Biz with Plant Dyes


In 2002, Sowmya, the a scholar at NIFT (Nationwide Institute of Style Expertise), was required to do an internship as a part of the programme. She knew she wished to make use of this time to discover her love for textiles and pure materials. However what she didn’t know was that this internship would form the remainder of her life within the years to come back. 

The Bengaluru woman determined to do her internship at a studio in Auroville — the experimental township in Tamil Nadu that could be a world in itself, selling pillars of ecology and spirituality. 

“Stumbling upon the city of Auroville was one of the best factor that’s ever occurred to me. I fell in love with the challenge and was impressed by the town. There was an instantaneous connection,” she recollects in dialog with The Higher India

Sowmya’s 20-year-long journey within the vogue business has culminated in a sustainable vogue model Hibiscus Heroes, launched in 2020. Immediately, the model is altering the norms of vogue and going an extended solution to show that fashion doesn’t should be detrimental to the planet.

Hibiscus Heroes is a sustainable fashion brand that uses plant-based dyes
Hibiscus Heroes is a sustainable vogue model that makes use of plant-based dyes, Image credit: Sowmya

A fateful love affair with Auroville

Following her internship, Sowmya returned to Bengaluru for her remaining yr of commencement. However one thing felt completely different. 

“The 4 months I’d spent in Auroville overwhelmed me as a result of method through which the city functioned. We’re talking of a time when sustainable practices had been nonetheless revolutionary. However Auroville had already adopted these in areas of healthcare, schooling, structure and extra. I resonated with these practices and it grew to become clear to me that this was a spot I might name ‘house’ sometime,” she notes. 

With this thought in thoughts, Sowmya returned to Auroville after commencement and started serving to out within the faculties and farms within the city, residing a really completely different life than that within the metropolis. As destiny would have it she even met her husband right here. Life appeared too good to be true. 

“However there was part of me that also felt the necessity to exit into the world and discover my skillset as a designer,” she says, including that after three years of this life, she moved together with her husband to Amsterdam the place she spent greater than a decade working with the globally acclaimed vogue model Tommy Hilfiger. 

Sowmya is the founder of Hibiscus Heroes, a sustainable fashion brand,
Sowmya is the founding father of Hibiscus Heroes, a sustainable vogue model, Image credit: Sowmya

However being on the peak of her company profession and travelling the world opened her eyes to how briskly vogue was damaging the planet.  

So in 2013, when Sowmya received a chance to work remotely, she returned to South India, the place she now took a completely different strategy to vogue.

“I started travelling to factories in South India and Sri Lanka the place our merchandise had been produced. Right here, I received a deeper understanding of the manufacturing processes and the sort of water air pollution vogue was inflicting. Creatively I used to be impressed however socially I used to be in a little bit of a debate,” she says. 

In 2016, Sowmya knew she wanted to do issues in a different way and give up her company job. This time, she says she simply knew Auroville was the place she belonged.

Style that’s good for the planet

The products by Hibiscus Heroes are made from a range of eco friendly materials
The merchandise by Hibiscus Heroes are constructed from a variety of eco pleasant supplies, Image credit: Sowmya

Settling down in Auroville in 2017, Sowmya says she wasn’t in a rush to create one thing, however first wished to immerse herself within the technique of sustainable vogue and its intricacies.  

“The remaining push got here someday within the type of a visit that I used to be making by the ghats close to Erode in South India. Passing the Kaveri river had me witness a surprising sight — the size at which the water was being abused was intense, and it will take some time to get better,” she says. 

“It despatched a chill down my backbone. I puzzled, if individuals had been carrying garments since time immemorial, how did they discover a solution to be in sync with nature?” 

As Sowmya started studying up and talking to individuals within the sustainable vogue house, she understood that pure dyes and plant-based supplies had been the important thing to sustainable vogue. 

“It grew to become clear that if I wished to create a model of my very own there have been containers that wanted to be ticked — my merchandise wanted to be clear when it comes to the uncooked supplies they used and the manufacturing processes wanted to be eco-friendly.” 

Via the months that adopted, she started to delve deeper into the areas of pure dyes and plant-based colors and with a storehouse of concepts Hibiscus Heroes — a plant-based vegan clothes model was able to be launched in 2020. 

A variety of plants are used for the colours of Hibiscus Heroes products
A wide range of vegetation are used for the colors, Image credit: Sowmya

Elaborating on the model, Sowmya says, “Whereas our garments are made with handloom cotton, and that is sustainable, if all people solely makes use of cotton it creates an imbalance in nature. So I began exploring alternate options for silk and leather-based and shortly arrived upon cellulose wood-based materials like lyocell and modals,” she notes. 

However this posed a problem when it got here to working with artisans, says Sowmya, because the artisans in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Bengal had been sceptical about utilizing these novel materials, for the reason that recipes would wish to alter. 

“However with each experiment, we received nearer to our objective and received our color palettes proper,” she says. 

Via her affiliation with artisans, Sowmya recounts how she uncovered so many learnings. 

“They use what’s regionally accessible round them in abundance and actually, a studying that has been handed down by generations is that they need to use wild vegetation which can be rain-fed, as a substitute of vegetation which can be meant for meals.” 

She provides that whereas plant-based dyes are fantastic, they create alongside just a few challenges. 

The vegan eco-friendly sustainable fashion brand sees love from all over India
The vegan eco-friendly sustainable vogue model sees love from throughout India, Image credit: Sowmya

“Whenever you work with pure merchandise, there’s at all times a shock concerned. No matter you see the primary time round doesn’t essentially imply will probably be the identical the second time because the pigment within the leaf adjustments relying on if the monsoon is late or early.” 

Whereas earlier these items used to go away her flabbergasted, she now welcomes them and asks her clients to have a good time it too.

As a part of Hibiscus Heroes pure dyes, there are wedelia plant (inexperienced color), annatto seeds (yellow color), karungali plant (gray color), palash flowers (pink color), clitoria flowers (blue color) and madder roots (plum color).  Immediately, Hibiscus Heroes is managed by a small staff of 5 and receives round 175 orders every month.

So, as Sowmya appears again on the colorful journey she has had by the assorted phases of vogue that the world has seen, she says she feels they’re doing one thing proper.

Edited by Asha Prakash



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