Meet Ren, the co-founder of the environmentally and socially conscious, Matter Prints.
Being originally trained as a sociologist, this woman knows a thing or two about the wellbeing of disadvantaged and vulnerable people. Ren transferred this knowledge and passion into a thriving business focusing on changing the lives of garment workers for the better, and we are 100% here for it.
What made you start Matter Prints?
MATTER was sparked by the excitement of travel and the human connection that comes with it. The feeling of anything is possible, the richness of a life that is open to global inspiration. I met my co-founder, Yvonne, on the beaches of Mexico, and we were inspired to combine our love for travel, cultural stories, and unique travel wear into a business. The message is to find out the where and why something is made – we will make better choices when we know those stories, for ourselves and the world. Also, that we are all connected – that’s why it’s called MATTER – going back to the basics that connect us.
Do you have a morning routine? If so, what is it you do to set yourself up for the day ahead?
Mornings are precious for me. I start the day with meditation and reflection. Then the all important first coffee and sometimes, breakfast. Most strategic thinking or creative work happens in the morning, and the afternoon is about communicating with relevant teams.
What’s the biggest barrier you’ve found to succeeding as a socially conscious business?
There’s been so many! I’ll give three. On the business front, that a good idea is not enough – you have to believe and know that you are the best person to execute that idea. Second, in terms of getting things done, its all about prioritising and having a Plan B, C and D. Lastly, and this has been my personal mantra for a long time, that wherever you go, go with all your heart. It’s a quote from Confucius that reminds me to be present in the journey and not always only looking ahead to the elusive destination of ‘success’.
Within the ethical fashion community, there’s a big question that we ask which is “who made my clothes?”. In the scope of Matter Prints, who made the things you sell? Can you tell us about them?
Khushiram and Ashish are two brothers that inspire me very much. They are fifth generation blockprinters and owners of their family business that have stuck to block printing as a craft even when many of their family members are moving to screen print. Their father won the President’s Design Award for blockprinting, and they are very proud of it. Khushiram studied design in school and is keen to apply his knowledge to innovate within the printing medium, and that’s exciting and inspiring to me when I meet an artisan who is open to new ideas. Khushiram also recently set up a non-profit sewing centre that trains women in basic sewing skills.
Why did you pick the fabrics/ingredients you have chosen to work with?
Ethical textile was at the core of our beliefs, we were passionate about sharing traditional textile techniques as well as the stories of people who made them and the culture they live in. Sustainability, naturally, was a pillar to that, although what it meant to us became more complex over time. For us, the biggest thing would be to look into the waste and energy management practices of our partners and reduce our environmental impact. We’ve launched a range of organic cotton pants, and are hoping to eventually move to entirely organic and natural materials, as well as zero impact semi synthetics like tencel or lyocell. Currently, offcuts of our base fabrics are reused and made into other small scale products like our #mattermini collection, jewellry, and jute tote bags. We’ve also recently launched a limited range of zero-waste coats made entirely from our offcuts.
Best piece of advice you have ever received?
From my mother – there will always be more work. Know when enough is enough.
What’s next for you and MATTER Prints?
We believe that for rural craftsmanship to thrive, we need to build a network that creates access to the market, providing products that, through good design, stand on their own two feet. Our bigger dream is to mainstream textile artisanship, connecting artisans and designers to become a collective that showcases the results of those collaborations.
One book and/or documentary everyone should read/watch? Why?
The Art of Living and Dying – Osho. It’s a book that not only changed my view of the world but continued to reveal universes of meaning each time I pick it up again.
Are there any other Movers & Shakers out there in your world that you think people should know about?
Source Collections, Apolis, Everlane, and Kowtow.