How it all began?
So I started to work on bags from recycled materials. I collected rice and onion bags and I borrowed a massive old school sewing machine from my tailor to make samples. But it was just a dust catcher in my room. I started to work with our neighbour in Madiha but unfortunately due to language barrier I couldn´t explain what my vision was and she was putting too many of her ideas into it. It didn´t match.
It was definitely a good experience but I put all sewing on ice for a while.
A few months later, I still had the idea in my mind and I wanted to create something. With help and support from Leo I went to Colombo and bought a second hand plastic Singer sewing machine. I was lucky that my friend Steffi who studied fashion design was visiting that time. She helped me so much! We created the first samples together, so I had something to start from. I went to my tailor to make a few bags and it looked promising. I was using recycled rice bags and I also found ropes made out of fabric scraps. I made enough to test on family and friends.
Don´t be afraid to fail!
Then I made a mistake. I´d bought a lot of material so I gave it to the tailor and left to Europe. Without me controlling him, the bags were a nightmare. He gave the work to other tailors, who didn´t know exactly what I wanted and the result was really bad. I was miserable. I still tried to save them by using nice ropes and putting on my logo but I wasn’t sure I could really sell such a bag. On top of everything, one day, one of the bags got wet and the dye from the linen transferred to the canvas outside. OMG!! Then i realized I had super failed! I didn´t want to throw the bags in the bin, so I kept them for another few months until I was introduced to a Women’s project in Polhena. Finally, I donated all the bags to them, either for their own usage or to sell. Lesson learned!
Where are we today?
Currently I am working with my tailor Bashi. It is a long journey, but I can say we do a good job together. It is not always easy. We have different taste in fashion and we’ve had some hard times too. But I didn´t give up – she is a very good learner and a very good tailor. Sometimes she comes with her own nice ideas. I think she understands me better now too. Even though she doesn´t speak English and I speak simple Sinhala. Bashi seems to be happy to work with me and that is what makes me happy too. I pay her per piece at a price she suggests/we agree on. As Salty kiss is a very small manufacturer we don´t have any Fair trade mark. After years of experience with different tailors in Sri Lanka I know what I am doing and I know my tailor is happy. It´s important for me to work with a local woman tailor, to give her the opportunity to earn her own money.
The fabrics we are using are from street markets. Mostly it´s scraps from big garment factories here in Sri Lanka, so we never know what print we will have next. Only canvas is new, and I´ve been told it comes from Bangladesh. Ropes are from a shop in Colombo. I am trying to find the recycled ones I used in the beginning but it´s mission impossible.
All pictures in this article are from our very first collection.