Ready or not, here I come!
This is crazy!
I am about to embark on an adventure that is so much bigger than what I feel capable of and, yet, here I am: about to launch a new brand in the middle of the greatest crisis of our lifetimes.
Make no mistake: this is the biggest crisis we have faced. We have generally been a fortunate generation. We have lived through the optimism of the 90s, overcame the crises of the new millennium and generally have lived through growing prosperity. We vigorously debate the flipside of this growth-driven prosperity and its long term effects such as inequality and climate change. But never did we face a crisis that simultaneously shut down the entire world at once.
So here I am, moving ahead with my project, putting my brand niluu on the market and wondering if I’ve gone crazy, if I’ll succeed, or even if it matters at all.
If I were a self promoter I’d come up and say that, of course, it makes sense. Not only am I making products from a beautiful fabric but they are the anti-fast-fashion: beautiful and timeless yet sustainable and ethical.
While that is true, the decision to go ahead with the launch in the middle of a potential global recession has a lot more to do with the commitments I have made to myself and the people who have supported me in this project.
Think about this: 2 months ago, my initial order was a small percentage of the woman-owned business that manufactures my products. Because of the crisis, my order is now the only active business for them.
This will pass, I am sure. And slowly we will get back on track but I do hope that we will take the opportunity to rethink our approach to consumption. Particularly, I hope we rethink our relationship with fashion. If we do, I am convinced, niluu will find its place in this world.
Like most projects, niluu started serendipitously.
Over a year ago, I was fortunate to meet the people running what is probably the most prestigious textile company in Turkey. Wonderful people and an incredible company, truly dedicated to innovating the sector and with over 150 years history. They had started producing silk to sell it to the mills in Lyon; eventually producing the highest quality fabrics and becoming a worldwide leader in textile printing. Truly committed to sustainable development, they recognized early the fundamental ethical flaws in the production of silk.
Let me put it bluntly: if you love your silk pillowcase, is it ok that a few thousand silkworms were boiled alive to extract the silk yarn needed to produce that one pillowcase?
I am not judging or preaching. I have bought silk products in the past. I am not vegan; I have been eating more and more a plant-based diet but I am far from being a purist. Like most of us, I am flawed. I have great empathy for people and for animals and yet I have found reasons to rationalize my consumption of animal-derived products.
But if I stop and think about it I can’t really accept that idea. Can’t we have that great feeling and the benefits of a silk pillowcase without the cruelty? Why can’t we enjoy those vibrant colors and prints that we only see on silk?
That’s what niluu is about. Thanks to the collaboration with my suppliers we are able to produce and bring to market (niluu.com coming soon 😊) wonderful products that would be typically made of silk. With niluu, we make them with these unique fabrics that are derived from previously discarded cotton seeds, and in some cases also blended with sustainably manufactured viscose. We are able to deliver an even more luxurious feel and color intensity than silk with sustainable products made of Vegan-certified fabrics.
We are launching with pillowcases, sleep masks (which are wonderful for achieving deep sleep) and kimonos. We will develop more products soon but in the meantime we are rushing to have face masks produced in keeping with the challenge of our time.
It’s taken over a year. Several trips to Turkey, for which I can’t complain. Going through accelerated courses in digital marketing and entrepreneurship, while also learning to use video calls for team meetings. All to ensure the product can be delivered to my obsessively high standards.
Just a little over a month away to launch as long as we don’t see delays related to COVID mitigation measures. To be clear: I am happy to see a delay if it means slowing down the progression of this viral disease. However, as I am working with professional world-class suppliers, I am confident we will be able to find a way to launch while doing all we can to protect the health of those involved.
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Be well, be safe, stay positive! 😘