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Hot and Cold in Asuncion
Tuesday, 03 June 2008

COTTON.jpgI’m in Asuncion and I’m cold.

For those of you who don’t know Asuncion, it’s the capital of Paraguay. Paraguay is a small country without all those things that make Brazil so attractive. Like beach. And samba. And the Amazon. But to be honest, Paraguay has other strengths.

Like the company I’m visiting here: they make organic cotton and have created a value chain from farmer to consumer in one country. The founder lobbied to change the laws in the country so she could start growing organic cotton. Lives of farmers changed and parts of the country became free of pesticides. The company started working with manufacturers to develop clothing. Now they sell in several shops as well as in their own store in Asuncion. A revolutionairy act of entrepreneurship and an example for others.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

frog_prince.jpgTen o'clock in the morning. Prince and me in his hybrid 4x4 driving through pulsating jungle. The Christ quase embraces us when we pass her. Further up high with a view of the city. The beaches as white stripes between the calm blue of the ocean and the chaos of city buildings. The lake as a shiny spot amongst traffic. ‘If the weather is clear, you can see Paradise Island', Prince says. We arrive at his castle, an old monastery that turned hotel. 'With five million stars, because you can see the sky through the roof'. Soon they will start renovation here. His idea is to make the village into an eco destination. With an international research center on sustainability. With fully self-servicing houses including solar energy and waste recycling systems. And with more high tech sustainability that needs to make this place an example in the world. I pinch myself in the cheek: Will it be here that I'll build my dreamhouse?'

Happy People
Wednesday, 09 April 2008

CONFERENCE.jpgA picture full of smiling people, taken at an Organic Exchange conference in Sâo Paulo. Organic Exchange is an international organization that pushes the growth and use of organic cotton in the world. This is not an easy job considering the many levels of production from farmer to consumer.

The conference in Sâo Paulo brought together regional actors who all play their part in building organic cotton value chains. Farmers from Nicaragua flew over to be informed about the chances of starting to grow organically. Manufacturers from Peru, Paraguay and Brazil shared their knowledge on how to clean up their factories. The Veja founders ran in on their funky eco sneakers to inspire us with their marketing methods. Representatives from Buenos Aires enlightened us on their strategies to warm up the Argentinian market. And of course ModaFusion was there showing off some sample pieces of the new collection.

Discussions were heated, stories were shared and new information brought up new questions. After the conference everyone went home to continue their work and create a healthier planet. See you next year in Buenos Aires.

Hippy Heart
Saturday, 29 March 2008

RIO.jpg It’s a hot day and I’m sweating on my bicycle. My beautiful black beach cruiser with a basket attached to the steering wheel on which I’ve fabricated a heart. A ‘hippy heart’ my friends call it, made of the colourful ‘Senhor do Bomfim’ ribbons. In this city of violence I felt I had to give a different signal. A signal of love and peace and hope. It gives my Harley Davidson look-a-like bicycle a strong feminine touch and makes people smile.

I smile as well, cycling over Avenida Atlantica towards Ipanema. After forty minutes of cycling and smiling, I arrive at my appointment. It’s only ten to twelve, I’m on time. My cell rings. It’s Andrea, president of ModaFusion.

'Where are you Kim?’

‘In Ipanema, why?’

‘We’re not coming. We cancelled the meeting.'

Bamboo Tapa-Sexo
Monday, 04 February 2008

TAPA-SEXO.jpgWhat to do when you loose your tiny-winy-bikini-cover-triangle while dancing samba? You stop and look shocked? You try to hide behind the big drum in Rio’s Carnival parade? Or you just keep on shaking your bootie like it’s your last day on earth?

As a true star, Viviane Castro didn’t loose her smile and sound. She danced even more sexily, finished the hundreds of meters in the Sambadrome with glitters on her nipples as the only cover to her voluptuous nudity and made front page news the next day with this visual expression of the party’s essence.

How much I would like to dress this beautiful woman in our bamboo lingerie! A collection inspired by the one word that’s written in the sky above this marvellous city. Not only during Carnival but year round: in the energy that vibrates in the air, in people’s eyes and in every second word they speak. The colourful pieces look seductive and playful from a distance. It’s only up close that you recognize the various kamasutra positions. Was it the love the designer found in her tattoo artist that made her choose this print? BAMBOO-LINGERIE.jpgWas it the ultra fast wedding of ModaFusion’s founder with her Brazilian man? Or did they get so inspired by this baby soft fabric, it made them think of nothing else?

It certainly keeps me dreaming. Of Viviane dancing in next year’s carnival with natural feathers, banana fibre high heels, jewellery out of Amazon seeds and a bamboo tapa-sexo to cover her femininity.

Will everyone be talking about that too?

No Stress
Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Imagine you own a factory that manufactures clothes. You produce a certain quantity every month and earn enough money to pay the bills and live your life. If new customers approach you, you stay weary. You’re happy as you are, why work harder than that? Can you imagine being a factory owner like that?

I can’t. But I’m not Brazilian. I’m not a factory owner either but that’s another story. ModaFusion produces their eco collections in several factories. Well, they are not really factories but more like ateliers or houses where groups of women sew clothes. At the beginning of this month we asked one of them if they could produce an order for us. They didn’t say YES nor NO. They shook their heads, waved their hands, talked a bit and said nothing. We asked again, very friendly. Because it’s summer holiday, because it will be Carnaval in two weeks, because people can only think of beach and samba right now, we asked it a third time. If they couldn’t do it, we had to find other producers.

Yesterday we called them and guess what?

They said NO.

One week before our deadline. They simply don’t want to produce our order. They said NO to an international order that can broaden their horizon and mean good money in the future when ModaFusion sells all over the world. They said NO to a chance to develop their business, to hire more women, to create new and innovative products. But that of course, is our humble opinion.

The factory owner put it like this: “In this busy time of year (beach, samba), we don’t have time to do this order. We prefer to stay with No stress.”

Organic is Orgasmic
Wednesday, 07 November 2007

I had no idea that there was so much eco consciousness in Brazil. Every other week I meet people who are somehow living a green lifestyle. This makes me very happy. In fact I’m thrilled.

Just on Sunday I was at a friend’s place and met interior designer Luciana. I told her about my work and she almost jumped up: “I’ve read so much about that lately. Eco is becoming a mega trend here, in my field too. I now have a customer who wants eco furniture for his house. So I’m researching theLAMPS.jpg possibilities of bamboo and other materials. I love to have this freedom as an entrepreneur and to choose my own materials! And eco is so cool!”

Tonight I was at a temple devoted to an Indian saint. We sang mantras for two hours and opened our senses with deep meditation. Which strangely made me hungry for curry afterwards. Three girls, all dressed in designer yoga outfits enjoyed the food with me and we started talking. Mahachandra told me about her business in organic cosmetics. She’s doing a specific course that makes her a specialist in natural ingredients for beauty care products: “I’ll go to the Amazon next month to do research because there are still so many secrets to unravel. We really have everything in this country to be a real eco innovator”. It’s quiet for a few seconds while we indulge in a delicious dessert. Then she glances at me with a conspiring smile: ‘Organic is orgasmic’.

Friday, 26 October 2007

MONKEYS.jpgWhile I start up my laptop, I see something moving from the corner of my eye. A monkey, small like a squirrel, races over the wall outside. He stops for a second and shakes the raindrops of his little body. There has been a lot of chaos here the past few days. The most important tunnel that connects the north and south zones of Rio has partially collapsed. All traffic has to take other routes and two hours of congestion is no exception at the moment. When it rains like this, not only does the traffic get chaotic but the whole city seems to be confused. Electricity fails, people don’t go to work and university classes stay empty. Little monkey doesn’t care and rubs himself behind the ears. Then suddenly in a whirlwind of drops and moving leafs his cousin jumps on top of him. They wrestle, roll around and then run and disappear from sight. It’s ten o’clock in the morning and a new day at work has started.

Yesterday the whole team was in the office after a lot of travelling. At our launch in Paris, Nadine closed a great deal. Concept department store Citadium in the centre of Paris organizes an Ethical Christmas this year. ModaFusion is one of ten ethically produced labels that will present its collection on that special occasion. But it’s not an easy job to get the work done in time. The perception of time the women have here differs just a little from Nadine’s. The dynamic French founder of ModaFusion has collected a storybook of being-too-late narratives in the two years she’s been working in Brazil. The lingerie samples that we had to take to Paris were no exception. Only three hours before she got on a plane, the items arrived. ‘Desculpe, estamos um pouco atrasada’ the women said (“We’re sorry, we’re a little late”). But this time, delay is really no option. The launch in Citadium is a huge chance for ModaFusion. Everything just needs to go as planned. Even when it rains.

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