Friday, 22 April 2016

I made my clothes / I made my fabrics


At the end of 2013 my youngest daughter quit her job as online marketeer to follow her dreams and make the world a better place. She founded Enschede Textielstad, an initiative to bring back textile industry to her home town Enschede. Last month she bought her first machines and she will soon be able to produce fair fabric from recycled threads. What better day than Earth Day (which happens to be her birthday as well) to share her amazing story.

In April 2013 the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh made her ban fast fashion immediately. She did not want anyone to suffer on her behalf and she started making all her clothes as a protest against the terrible working conditions in the fashion industry. But she wanted to do more. She started asking herself who spun the threads and made the fabrics she now used. After doing some research she couldn't ignore the pictures of young children standing in polluted rivers while dyeing fabrics.
She wanted to raise awareness and initially thought about writing opinion pieces about the fashion industry. But people had already been doing that, and with little effect. In December 2013, during the long ride home from a business trip in Berlin she came up with a revolutionary plan. Enschede had been an important centre for the European textile industry until around 1970. The industry disappeared, but the knowledge was still there. Would it be possible to produce fabric again, locally and in an innovative and sustainable way?




Her first pitch touched an open nerve in the community. Retired weavers offered to help her, entrepeneurs volunteered to coach her and local politicians were very interested. That's when she quit her job to be able to investigate the full potential of her plans.
She describes those first months as Eat. Sleep. Pitch. Repeat. The pictures show her during that period, always wearing her lucky pitch dress. Handmade, of course.




On Wednesdays she had weaving lessons in the Enschede Textile Museum. Retired weaver Johan was more than happy to finally be able to pass on his knowledge to a new generation and under his guidance she soon produced her first dish cloth.



In the meantime she was earning a living by doing freelance jobs. She organized a congress, and she works on a freelance basis for Saxion University of Applied Sciences where, amongst other things, she organizes Tex Talks for the Fashion and Textile Technologies department.

It didn't take long before her plans attracted all sorts of media attention.




Newspaper interviews and television appearances for both local and national networks generated a lot of publicity and positive reactions, confirming she was really on to something.




She was nominated for the VIVA400 list, a list of powerwomen who made a difference in 2015, in the category Wereldverbeteraars (do-gooders).



This girl always had a talent to bring people together, a talent she used well to realise her plans. She built bridges, connected entrepeneurs, politicians, scientists and educational institutes.
Enschede is the home of UTwente, a technical university that works in close collaboration with the business community, making the region a hotspot for innovative product development. A company in a nearby town is recycling jeans fibers, producing threads suitable for weaving.




The first order for Enschede Textielstad rolled in: a manufaturer of maternity wear ordered 1000 meter chambray, made from these recycled threads.

Meanwhile the CEO had searched high and low for the right machines, helped by a team of retired weavers. She was looking for the type of loom her advisors new inside and out because they had worked with the machines before. Last month she used her hard earned savings and bought two Saurer W100 shuttle looms. Oldtimers, built in 1972 and found in a barn in Austria.


Ready for transport

Photo: hetoog.nl

A very exciting moment! More pictures can be found in this gallery


Even the national news had an item about it :)



You can watch an item on regional television here, starting from 8.54 min. (in Dutch)

The machines need a good clean and the hunt for spare parts is on. Daughter and her very skilful and supportive boyfriend are working hard in their spare time to get them ready for action. 



That's the story so far of a true Fashion Revolution hero, and the motto she lives by:

The best way to predict the future is to create it

Happy Earth Day, Happy Birthday!



31 comments:

  1. Oh, Marianne! What an inspirational story! What an amazing person your daughter is! I am sure, you are super proud of her. More than that, you should be proud for yourself and your husband for raising such an strong, powerful and inspiring girl! Happy birthday :)

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  2. what a wonderful post, so interesting. She sounds like a fantastic person who is doing something very great things

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  3. Wow! Your daughter sounds amazimg!

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  4. Your story about your daughter's venture has brought tears to my eyes! What courage she must have, as well as her talent for bringing people and ideas together. Best wishes for the future of Enschede Textielstad!

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  5. Wow! Your daughter is doing some amazing things and certainly making a difference. You must be so proud.

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  6. This post is truly inspirational and how proud you must be of your beautiful daughter. You and your husband have obviously raised your girls to be good people as well as have them educated to maximize their potential. I will really look forward to seeing their fabrics produced. Please wish your daughter every success for me.

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  7. Whow - an amazing woman

    Hege

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  8. Quite a young lady, and I am sure also a reflection on your upbringing. I hope she does well, certainly the timing is right - not just Earth Day and Annemieke's birthday, but also a grassroots movement is springing up globally to put community back - and honouring old traditions in food and textile production. I hope she and her team do well.

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  9. I had tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat as I read this truly inspiring story. Your daughter sounds amazing and determined. I wish her and her team the best. You must be so proud of her.

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  10. I had tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat as I read this truly inspiring story. Your daughter sounds amazing and determined. I wish her and her team the best. You must be so proud of her.

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  11. Wat een inspirerend verhaal! Ik ben 20 en naai al 5 jaar mijn eigen kleding, maar zo'n grote stap durven zetten vind ik echt knap. Als de stoffen ooit aan de meter beschikbaar komen, ben ik zeker geïnteresseerd om ermee te naaien en erover te bloggen! Wat een mooi initiatief, en wat knap van je dochter dat ze zo haar dromen achternagaat. Zulke wereldverbeteraars zouden er meer moeten zijn!

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  12. WOW! What a great positive story... all power to her and her supporters. She is obviously resilient and enterprising. You must be so proud of her.

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  13. Congratulations/Gefeliciteerd. Very inspirational and what a great story. Wishing your daughter lots of success and hope she will inspire a lot of people too. It's nice to see the new generation finding their way, isn't it.

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  14. Marianne what a wonderful story and how proud you must be of Annameike! She's obviously a tremendously strong and passionate woman. Fantastic reading.

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  15. Thank you so much for sharing this story! I've also been wondering how to know where my fabric is harvested/dyed/woven/knit. Aside from Alabama Channin in the US, it's challenging to know that information.

    A huge congratulations to your daughter!

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  16. What an inspiring story, Marianne! I'm sure you and Mr. Foxgloves are so proud. Let us know when we can order some of that fantastic fabric for our stash!

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  17. You must be so proud of your daughter, Marianne. Thank you for sharing this story of her inspiring and ongoing journey! I wish her all the luck in the world!

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  18. What an inspiration. This was an amazing story about a truly talented young woman.

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  19. This article put such a huge smile on my face! Thank you! Your daughter is an amazing woman who really wants to change the world and not just talk about changing it. =D

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  20. Wow! I'm very impressed by your daughter! Please let her know that she's got a huge Finnish fan in me :)

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  21. Very cool! Best of luck to her!

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  22. Very cool! Best of luck to her!

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  23. So amazing! I'm sure you are very proud of your smart and dedicated daughter.

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  24. So amazing! I'm sure you are very proud of your smart and dedicated daughter.

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  25. Gosh what a brilliant story, and so nicely told. This is such a wonderful thing to do and I hope so much that her vision and commitment pay off. She deserves to succeed. I am sure there is a market for such a lovely, local, ethical product and it looks like she is also acting as a great role model for others too. Amazing - we are all rightly proud of our kids - but this is really something to warm the heart. Well done.

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  26. Thank you all for your kind words! And especially you, mom, for writing such a lovely story about my big project. I will keep you all posted!

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  27. Well, this just about brought tears to me eyes. How fantastic. Best of luck!!

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  28. Loved your story! When I was small and still lived in Zwolle, I remember my grandmother buying remnants (lapjes?) at the market and I'm sure Enschede is one of the places she told me they came from. I've lived in Canada for almost 50 years now so my memories could be wrong!

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