Earlier this week I attended a symposium about Craftsmanship, Innovation and Sustainability in Amsterdam. Listening to all the interesting presentations, I learned that in this urgently needed transition from a linear to a circular economy, the value of craftsmanship is crucial. It is finally acknowledged that in this era of mass production and mass consumption, with an immense quantity of waste as a result, we should value what we have. Unique, handmade, products made from sustainable materials and with a story that emotionally connects, that is the future. It underscores that we are definitely on the right track with Phemke!
Meet the makers - Madagascar
A few years ago we started sourcing and creating handcrafted accessories from Madagascar, and what a journey it has been. Our collection of popular hats and bags have been a hit throughout our selling points in the UAE, Oman, Maldives and Seychelles. What makes our products so beautiful is the story behind them. Craftsmanship meets sustainability, combined with a splash of love: an unique mix, or if you ask me, a recipe for success.
Last year I travelled to the capital of Madagascar to meet the ladies that work on our products and it must have been one of the most inspiring trips so far. I could have never imagined I felt so connected with these ladies, despite the language barrier. The most important reason for visiting these ladies was to see whether they are happy working on our products. And even though they are living on little money they are thankful for their job and the extra income it provides.
Social and environmental impact
We are proud to announce that we have now started a project to measure both the social and environmental impact. The raffia straw is grown and harvested in Madagascar, and then dyed before it is brought to the artisans in the villages, where it is hand crocheted into works of arts. But do we actually know the distance that is travelled? Or how much water is used? And what can we say about the hours of labour we provide to the artisans, what positive impact does it have on their economic independence? We don’t have the full picture yet, but our aim is to be as transparent as possible. We cannot wait to let you know in what way you have contributed to a more sustainable fashion industry and the prosperity of our artisans by purchasing Phemke products.
From Madagascar to another gem in the Indian Ocean, the Seychelles
Phemke and its client base are growing by the day, which makes our social impact grow as well. We strongly believe in a local-for-local approach in order to minimise our carbon footprint. That is why we are extremely happy to have started another project in the Seychelles. Together with a local NGO “Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Foundation” (SSTF) which have been founded to promote sustainable tourism in the Seychelles, and a skilled group of local artisans, we conducted a workshop. The objective was to create a resort wear collection together with local artisans which is inspired by the traditions and culture found in the Seychelles.
Featured on the national news
The response has been amazing. We gained a lot of exposure from the Ministry of Tourism and local press and we even featured on the national news! It was clear that preserving traditional craftsmanship, empowering female artisans and supporting them by commercialising their crafts is very much needed in this top holiday destination. With an influx of many tourists each year, there is a high demand for locally and authentically made products.
A more sustainable version of fast fashion?
We are now collaborating with a small group of artisans and last week we started sewing the first garments. We believe in investing in a sustainable partnership with our clients (mostly high-end resorts & fashion boutiques) by helping them to analyse traffic, guest profile and demand. This enables our clients to tailor their Phemke offerings which will improve rotation, reduce dead stock (and thus waste) and inevitably will generate more sales.
Due to the fact that we have short supply lines, launch new styles on a regular basis, give support in terms of communication and PR and the short distance the finished Phemke products have to travel, we are confident that we have found a successful & more sustainable alternative for the current fast fashion trend.
With many more interesting projects in the pipeline we are excited what the future will bring!
Should you wish to discuss setting up a similar project, please do get in touch with us.