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Meet The Maker : La Tierra

Meet The Maker : La Tierra

We interviewed founder of La Tierra, Lulu, on what goes on behind her brand, the artisans that she works with and we talk more about the process of block printing. La Tierra aims to  connect people to the beauty of the natural environment by working with ethical and sustainable processes of dyeing fabrics.

1. Tell us a little about yourself and your journey to owning your own business/brand
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As a child, living in a small town, I always got my dresses customized, which means I chose the fabric, colour, embroidery and so on. I realised by doing so i also valued it more. There were times we cousins would get together and design our clothing range be it our wedding trousseau and jewellery. It was the same for the interiors of the house and any element that involved design. I’m a Literature graduate with an MBA and always love to create and design. Inclined towards art, architecture, design from a very young age. Seeing my mother have impeccable eye for designs, especially the sarees she wore and my father’s love for concept design, the design patents he had and how he built a community with his sustainable inventions, together allowed me to see the beauty in nature. So even much before La Tierra happened, I always looked into upcycling fabrics, like sarees to clothing. I had a small business of designing hand woven Belgian laces 

Having sailed for 12 years with my spouse and children, travelling the world, I kept exhibition of paintings and handcrafted laces. After a short stint of teaching career in Singapore, and having had to cater to my family’s needs, I took back my design career I had before, thus launched La Tierra.
 

2. What is the first item you created? What was the story behind it? Natural dyed silk scarf. Scarves are something which can be used for all occasions. Silk scarf in particular helped my skin keep cool in this scorching tropic sun, while it also kept me warm in cold malls and cinemas. Once my friends started using it and gave great feedback, it helped me make more scarves with natural dyes and hand prints which I'm always fascinated about. We use shibori, clamping, tie dye, which are Japanese methods of printing. We also do block printing.Being fascinated with how colour is produced from natural sources, I also researched on the harmful aspects of synthetic dyes.
To reduce waste of resources, and implementing circularity, our business is based on sustainability as its aspect,extracting natural dyes from waste like onion skin, pomegranate skin, indigo leaves, lac, turmeric and also using handweaving and hand prints reduce carbon footprint. Sticking on to age-old process of printing and dyeing has helped us to become carbon neutral compared to current industrial methods. Although this process is labour intensive, it helps marginalised in society to gain meaningful employment. Upcycling is another way we try to maintain circularity in the system

3.What are some problems you have faced when creating a brand?
To discern what artisan works to choose, understanding how customer needs can be catered well. Customization and artisan works require more time. Since we work with smaller groups, finding the right set of people to work with is very important.To create a brand that’s affordable and not to compromise quality. To source ethically, so every aspect as in to provide work to marginalised and people who are differently abled was a conscious effort. To keep them motivated when times are challenging, especially when people did not appreciate natural dyes and crafts with fast products available.

4.What was the most heartwarming comment that you have received for your business?
My daughters have always been a part of La Tierra from its inception in 2014. Being a social enterprise and a portion of the proceeds being committed to needy in society, we've received encouragement through out. When clients recognise me for being a mother who is able to get the whole family involved, I feel grateful. Customers telling me that how its so educational to know about natural dyes and how it can be extracted from waste and also to know about different techniques of hand printing and how they love to buy when they know the story has been exceptionally motivating to me.
Its also upon their curiosity to learn, that I introduced workshops for natural dyeing and block printing.Customers love it when as a brand, we are being transparent and honest, especially when they learn how to identify natural fabrics from synthetic ones. When natural disasters struck, the support we gave to restart work for artisans and the feedback we received will always stay in our hearts.

5. How did you envision your brand in shaping the world around you?
A conscious effort to remain sustainable and green ( making in small batches) and customisation. To commit to needs of people around us be it by helping migrant workers, educational needs, basic necessities. To be able to work ethically and responsibly to all stakeholders involved. Educating customers and creating awareness about natural dyes and crafts helped change perception of they look at living a sustainable lifestyle. Would love to see our brand being an ambassador to help reduce pollution with synthetic dyes (https://www.bbcearth.com/blog/?article=breathing-life-into-a-dyeing-art)
 
6. What is the greatest lesson you have learnt while building your business?
To take time to listen and welcome new ideas, to be dynamic with creativity and take that bold step to try without fear what you believe in. To challenge myself  from stepping beyond my comfort zone. Thats how La Tierra came with capsule clothing range, pocket squares, totes, Belgian lace( which is a 16th century dying craft) Singapore souvenirs. Every little green step helps.

7. What wise words do you have for people who want to start their own business?
Be confident in your beliefs. Always envision what is the impact that you want to achieve. How can each one of us play our part to help people and nature around us by helping others we always help 'ourselves' see better.

8. How do you feel the Naiise Marketplace can help sellers with their business?
A fabulous platform that helps brands to be seen to a larger audience and help people appreciate the authenticity of creativity, contemporary and traditional work. A space to showcase different brands and entrepreneurs who are motivated to bring the best to customers.
You can shop La Tierra's range of products here.
Next article Meet The Maker : The Java Eco Project

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