In June I had the absolute pleasure, (and rather scary at first!), experience of travelling to India. This was to meet all of the amazing people I have come to know so well, via the keyboard, but had not yet done so in person.
I have done a fair bit of travelling, (I’m 32 and with 3 kids now it has been some time since I’ve been “alone”…..at all…. I even have little mates who want to be with me while I go to the toilet….) so when I set off to India, by myself, to a country I had never been to before, I was both extremely frightened and immeasurably excited! I had horrible stomach pains for a week leading up to the trip and pondered: ‘I thought “Delhi Belly” was only supposed to happen once I got to India?!’. However on arrival in India, the pains stopped! Alas it had been stress and anticipation; anticipation that the factory may not meet my expectations in terms of working conditions and “green-ness”.
The culture shock was huge and, well, shocking!! The poverty in parts incomprehensible, the food incredible, and the people, overtly wary of me! I had not gone to the tourist trodden tracks of India, I was in the deep depths of their land, and who was I, this white woman, what did I want?!
I very quickly learned that this was not a place to “be a tourist”. I went to two incredible temples, and was so awe struck by their beauty and intricacy, and by the thousands of years of work and worship that had occurred in them. I watched from a distance, I was an alien to their beautiful rituals and rites of passage.
The factory and I had been working together for about a year, and while they were transparent in all their processes, I wanted to see for myself! So much love and creativity goes into our products, so it was an integral point in our relationship that I gain an understanding of their perspective, and an integral time to ensure I was 100% happy with what Lulu Funk products are about. I needed to see the factory floor, the processes, the people and their working conditions.
What I found exceeded my expectations in every way. Not only was I completely amazed by their professionalism and integrity, but I was blown away by their knowledge and commitment to the environment. As an example, I wanted to explore the possibility of natural dying (thinking this was a greener option and using vegetables and herbs), they explained to me that while this method can be successful, much of their land can be baron and hard to grow vegetables on, and this takes away food sources from its local people. This is a perfect example of a consideration that had not even occurred to me, but a consideration that by ignoring those that are much more knowlegdable can have terrible effects on the local people who have so little compared to us!
I am a mum to 3 children, and while I am on the other side of the world, I could choose to be blind to unwanted truths about an industry that can be cruel and dangerous, or I could put my hand on my heart and say:
- Yes our products are safe
- Yes our processes are ethical
- Yes our workers are not only safe, but happy
- Yes our workers are paid well and are in a respectful environment
So why India? The manufacturer we work with is at the leading edge of Bamboo fabric design. Their ethos only allows for fabrics that have been clinically tested to be not only gentle and functional in so many ways, but also kinder to the environment. The owner has been manufacturing Bamboo since the 70’s and has lived and breathed in the textile industry. His company have their processes so refined that I have not yet found a comparable fabric. This picture shows our bamboo, organic cotton and elastine fibres being knitted together with superfine needles (the fineness of these needles help to create the softness not found in other fabrics).
The Technical Stuff
Our bamboo is sourced from China, in a forest certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Certified Organic by the Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA). The fibre is processed in India, ring spun to produce a smooth, soft, fine and durable product and knitted using state of the art fine needles to achieve the smoothest possible fabric. The resulting products are lightweight, moisture wicking, UPF 50+ and anti odour.
The factory floor uses the 5S model for order and cleanliness. This is a model that has a 5 step process for the way in which processes are conducted. Safety is at the integral core of the 5S model and is incorporated in each step.
Workers are highly skilled with ongoing opportunities existing for upskilling. The factory workers are paid very well and are highly sought after. Regular outings and trips are organized at the factory’s cost to stimulate, provide and encourage team building and leisure time with their factory peers.
The factory runs 100% on solar power and only work with fabrics that they consider to have a smaller footprint on the environment or are derived from waste products e.g. recycled polyester made from PET bottles.
They strive to use, and encourage the use of recycled material, wherever possible in packaging. We are currently working on some “greener’ packaging solutions for our Lulu Funk products.
Visiting the factory was a landmark moment for both myself and Lulu Funk, and a reminder to me about why I’m so passionate about our products. There have been huge hurdles for us financially, technically and logistically, but we are committed to bringing you all a highly functional, ethical and comfortable product. For my husband and I, Lulu Funk has truly become our forth child! Often a headache, but ultimately a love!
If you have any questions about our factory and processes, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lulu Funk x