Haida Co only use natural fabrics, beading and high-quality leather in their products. Every Haida piece is 100% handmade by Sumabanese communities that they aim to empower. It also means that each piece is not only authentic in its production and made under fairtrade principals and that no two pieces are exactly the same (see ya later mass production).
The People of Sumba are famous for their strong tribal culture and the quality of their ancestral colourful weavings that are made from 100% natural materials and plant-based dying.
Haida Co believes that handcraft is a powerful resource, a socioeconomic and cultural development factor, and through this they can elevate both their partners and customers, to create a positive impact around them.
Haida is big on sustainability, and they point out that minimising their environmental impact is the top priority for them.
The founders acknowledge that sustainability and fashion has a huge cost, but also that sourcing the best quality fabrics takes time. They are currently working on their transparency from seed to fabric, so watch this space - I'm sure they will have some beautiful stories to tell about the growers of the cotton they use.
All of the products they produce are made using natural dyes only, and in the future and looking at using leather alternatives such as Pinatex, which is a fibre made from pineapple leaves. You can read more about Pinatex here.
I want to take a moment quickly to bring your mind to the people that are making these bags. Those that are behind the creation of each product, that handmake all the patterns, live in the remote island of Sumba. Sumba is one of the poorest islands in the Indonesian Archipelago. Culturally, however, it's one of the richest places with very strong and ancient traditions.
The inhabitants of Sumba live below the poverty line. They lack acces to clean water, basic healthcare and education. Malnutrition is widespread and infant mortality is amongst the highest in the world due to lack of access to clean water and hygiene. When Candice and Lou, the founders of Haida discovered this, they decided they had to make a difference. Their passion and purpose is to support the artisans they work with. So on top of purchasing a quality, handmade product for yourself, you are also supporting a community project in Sumba to help give access to clean water and education. As the founders say, 'there is no development without education. No education without health'.
If you love Haida Co and want to purchase a product for yourself, use the code: ETHICALMADEEASY at checkout for 10% OFF.
Behind the Brand:
An interview with Candice and Lou, the co-founders of Haida Co.
What made you start Haida Co?
We were seeking for adventures and inspiration. We found much more. We found people. And we strongly believe that all humans have within them a potential energy to create something beautiful and meaningful. The deeper we go into traditional cultures and the more we see beauty and simplicity in the meaning of life.
Having a particular interest in handcrafts, we realized every time a little bit more how talented and gifted traditional cultures were. Their well-preserved knowledge passed down from generation to generation always fascinated us. Then the purpose of our travels slowly became obvious. We were looking for talent, for traditional heritage, for world's treasures.
After being tired of working for profit-driven companies that don’t appreciate their number one resource - human beings, we wanted to make a change and share our stories around us. We wanted to create a meaningful business, and ensure a more transparent future. We wanted to invest in People.
What is the meaning of the name - Haida Co?
“Haida” means “People” in the language of the Haida Gwaii, the native community of Alaska.
Through Haida Co you can see directly the people you are influencing through purchasing of our unique pieces. This goes along with our vision of transparency.
No sweatshops, no evil corporations, no synthetics, no dirtiness hidden in the darkness. Just pure love, joy, happiness and hard work. Real people, Haida People.
What is something others wouldn't know about creating an ethical business that you think they should?
You have to be innovative but patient. You are constantly thinking about how you could have a better impact on people and environment through every single step of your business. Much more than you could ever imagine. It is not always easy but seriously, worth it!
What has been the most challenging thing you have uncovered since the beginning?
To be honest, we are working on this project for more than two years. Money and time have been our major issues. When we were working, no time. When we had free time, not enough funds to make everything happen the way it should. We needed to go to the source, to know more about the story of our fabrics and their makers. But, the positive point is that it gave us the time to build a stronger network and better understanding of the culture. Being able to speak Indonesian facilitated a lot the communication of most of our actors and partners.
Within the ethical fashion community, there's a big question that we ask which is 'Who made my Clothes?'. In the scope of Haida Co, who made your bags and clothing? Can you tell us a bit about them?
Our weavings are made and naturally dyed by artisans in Indonesia. Each Haida piece is an authentic one of a kind artwork 100% handmade by Sumbanese and Balinese communities.
We want you to understand that quality is more elegant and sustainable than quantity.
We are proud of our tribe. We want to create a positive impact around us. Our purpose is to empower our artisans, valuing and introducing their incredible ancient skills to the world. Focusing on traditional culture, ancestral techniques, natural fabrics and dyes, we aim to contribute to a new kind of consumerism where we value each other, our environment and the cultural knowledge that makes every single piece we create unique.
An infinite gratitude to every human taking part of this adventure.
Here's a little more information on some of the key people that make Haida Co products:
-Eka, Head of our Bali factory
She is the sweetest one, this kind of human that will always send you positive and happy vibes. She has the purest heart where only love resonates. Eka takes care of us as her own children. She knows how to make us feel home and we always considered her as our "Balinese Mama". So much love and respect for this woman.
Eka has a small factory in the capital Denpasar. She has been working in the industry for over 20 years. Her experience and knowledge in this sector have been a strong asset for us. The quality and design of each piece are carefully guided by this incredible woman. She is a key element of our team.
-Rambu Ana, Coordinator of Ikat weaving supply in Sumba Timur
Rambu Ana is a beautiful and smiling Sumbanese woman. She comes from a long line family of weavers and knows absolutely everything about the Ikat history and making process. Visiting her workshop is always such a rich experience learning some more traditional knowledge about our fabrics every single time.
-Rambu Ana Uma, Masterweaver from Pau village, Sumba Timur
Rambu Ana is a very talented weaver. She learnt from very young age how to master the complex songket weaving technique. Passionate, she also learnt other weaving techniques as Ikat. She can explain you very well where all pigments she uses for the natural dying are from. She is well known in the sector as she already came to Bali in the past thank to Thread of life, a fair trade business that works with culture and tradition conservation to alleviate poverty in rural Indonesia to teach about natural pigments.
We believe in paying fair prices and wages to those we work with us. Paying fair wages is as important to us as every other part of our business. It is one of our company’s core values to elevate the standard of living of all those part of the Haida Tribe.
Best piece of advice you have ever received?
"Do what you love, and do a lot of it."
One tip you'd give to others who are wanting to start their own business?
Surround yourself with people that inspire you and motivate you to reach your goals. Don't be scared to ask for help. When you have a good idea, especially to make this world a better place, people are willing to give a bit of their energy to make your dream come true.
Where do you envision Haida Co in the future?
We believe in the incredible power of the Fashion Revolution movement. We believe in stimulating consciousness. Our purpose is to empower our partners and customers to stand up for change. To love and value all kinds of beings.
We are currently working with two communities in East Sumba. We are planning to work with one to two more within the year. Our dream is to collaborate with different tribes and communities around the world.
What or Who inspires you to do what you do on a daily basis?
Travelling a lot and living in developing countries helped us to change our perspectives. What is important in life? We would say the most important thing we learnt is sharing, without ever expecting something back. The universe will send it back to you.
Do you have a morning routine? If so what is it you do to set yourself up for the day ahead?
Yoga, ocean therapy and coconut. Almost every day! We were born on a Caribbean island and ocean is the place we resource and reconnect with ourselves. Yoga and meditation help us to focus and handle our emotions.
Taking care of yourself is the number one advice to succeed in what you do.
One book everyone should read? why?
"La Puissance de la Joie" or "The power of Joy" by the French philosopher and sociologist Frédéric Lenoir.
This book is for us a path to liberation and love. It empowers to save ourselves from the fictitious happiness proposed by our narcissistic and consumerist society. It is also a different perspective of wisdom more accessible to us, busy bees, stimulating our emotional intelligence.
Are there any other movers and shakers out there in your world that you think people should know about?
Bali is a very creative and stimulating island. We meet people from everywhere with amazing projects and initiatives.
If you do not know yet “Bye Bye Plastic Bags” project, I recommend you to check out this community of teenagers willing to change the dramatic unconscious plastic consumption here.
Single Use Plastic in Indonesia is a massive problem. We have the second most polluted seas on the planet, after China. This is the result of a fast economic development (mainly driven by the Tourism industry) without appropriate policies and infrastructures as well as education and social development.