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Studio AMA and Billie Cup join forces for a world without disposables

sweater billie billiecup

On the 1st of May the second edition of Mei Plasticvrijwas launched. This public campaign encourages Belgians to reduce their plastic consumption during the month of May. Excellent timing for the launch of the reusable coffee cup Billie Cupin Ghent. People who pay close attention, will also spot §2.SWEATERs in the images of the launch.

The public campaign Mei Plasticvrij This campaign on the ecological impact of plastic consumption aims to reduce the use of disposable plastic for one month. That was music to the ears of Ineke Van Nieuwenhove (the woman behind Mei Plasticvrij) and Vanessa Debruyne, the creators of the new reusable cup Billie Cup. They considered Mei Plasticvrij the perfect opportunity to introduce their product.

koffiebeker billiecup ecologisch herbruikbaar meisje beker studio ama ethische mode duurzaam sociaal ecologisch transparant
foto: © Koen Keppens

A new system for reusable cups

Billy Cup is not merely a reusable cup. This initiative by Ineke Van Nieuwenhove and Vanessa Debruyne is intended to respond to the fact that people are not always carrying their own cup of coffee when the overwhelming appetite for coffee strikes them. They learned from the example of interchangeable cups on festivals, and devised a similar system for reusable coffee cups.

Since early May, in about 20 restaurants and shops in Ghent, a Billie Cup is available, which can either be reused or redeemedin one of the participating shops, so that customers can recover their paid deposit. This is how Ineke and Vanessa not only aim to reduce the number of disposable coffee cups, but also provide an alternative to distracted coffee drinkers whose reusable cup is still on the counter. We feel you.

foto: © Koen Keppens

Reducing the number of disposable coffee cups is a matter of urgency. Coffee cups usually consist of a mixture of paper and plastic,making them non-recyclable and taking about 30 years to decompose. With one coffee, you create 30 years of waste. Every year about half a trillion cups are thrown away worldwide. Unbelievable, imagine that waste mountain!

Joining forces to fight disposables

It should come as no surprise that Billie Cup and Studio AMA were able to connect with each other's stories. Just like in the world of instant pre-train coffee, there is also in the world of fashion a deep-rooted throw-away culture.The average fashion brand produces as many as 50 collections a year, which are often thrown out of one's wardrobe just as quickly as they got in. Just think of the last item you bought yourself. How often do you really wear it?

The encounter between the two disposable allergic initiatives can be traced back to the MISS election by Startersfabriek, Sociale InnovatieFabriek and De Punt.There, both Billie Cup and Studio AMA were awarded prizes, as two of the ten most inspiring social starters in Ghent. Both startups are looking for solutions for an ecologically responsible lifestyle. When Ineke and Vanessa started looking for the right looks for the Billie Cup campaign, a collaboration soon was born.

foto: © Koen Keppens

And whom did we spot on Billie Cup's campaign photo? Indeed! The §2.SWEATERs by Studio AMA,made from residual flows from a mattress manufacturer. Each in their own way, Studio AMA and Billie Cup strive made from residual flows from a mattress manufacturer. Each in their own way, Studio AMA and Billie Cup strive to change our way of life. Less disposables, more authenticity and care for each other. To put it with an African proverb: "If you want to go fast, you have to go alone. If you want to go far, you have to go together."

At Studio AMA, we are very grateful to be able to contribute to Billie Cup's ambitious mission to change the world of coffee.

foto: © Koen Keppens
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Make your wardrobe go nuts

Buying sustainable fashion is important, but to have an ethical wardrobe, it is advisable to maintain one's clothes properly, i.e. in a way that takes the best care of both the clothes and the environment. Meet soapnuts!

Come again?

Soap nuts are the fruits of the Sapindus tree. This name is derived from the Latin word 'sapo' which means soap and 'indus' which stands for India. It is no surprise that these trees are mainly found in South and North India, and in Nepal.

In India, the fruits of the sea nut tree have been used for centuries to do the laundry. And under the growing movement towards a more sustainable lifestyle, they are also becoming more and more common in our regions. But why is that?

Clean laundry without chemicals

One of the special features of soapnuts is that they can be used as an environmentally friendly alternative to synthetic detergents. The brown peels contains a substance called saponin, produced by the Sapindus tree to protect its fruits from insects.

If the nuts come into contact with water, saponin has the same cleansing effect as soap. Saponin is natural and it protects your washing machine and your clothes. Soapnuts are therefore more suitable for people with allergies and sensitive skin.

Why wouldn't you do it?

Soapnuts are convenient and easy to use. Simply put the nuts in a cotton bag and place them in your washing machine. You can compost the nuts after usage. Who said zero waste was difficult?

In contrast to Germany and the Netherlands, the soapnuts are seldom available in our regular shops. Fortunately, many a low impact man and woman now knows the way to stores where well-known brands such as Seepje and Ecozone are available.

Tests have shown that the result is less good for solving grease stains. Some Marseille soap might help. Also, white laundry can become pale after prolonged use. It is therefore advisable to add 1 to 2 tablespoons of soda per wash.
Because the nuts grow solely in tropical or subtropical climates, the transport of Indian soapnuts to Europe is not very ecological. Fortunately, soapnuts are not the only plants that contain saponin. As a more local alternative one can also use ivy leaves, spinach or even peas. It is possible to put them in an old sock and place them into the washing machine. Transport- and cost-efficient!

Have you ever done your laundry with soap nuts? Would you recommend it to others? I am interested in your personal experiences.

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The systems and their challenges – a state of affairs.

atelier werktafel studio ama

"You've really found your true passion," I hear that all the time. A beautiful compliment and that's how I experience it. I found my voice. It all fits. My 'working' days are nice, the challenges on my path are interestingI wouldn't want to miss the meetings and surprises and I'm looking forward to what's coming tomorrow and the time after that.
 
 
But there is also something else that is brewing: it is slow. Every day I work on the puzzle pieces of a sustainable wardrobe, made according to Studio AMA's principles. Sustainable, waste reducing, socially responsible, at the right price.

 
About a year ago I made a choice to start the ethical fashion label I was looking for as a consumer myself. I started a project in which I would look for ways to create responsible fashion that I myself would fully support.
 
The challenge brings me to more challenges. Developing towards systems and then linking them together.
 
For example, for a particular fabric (1) I have found a good design (2) but not yet a place to make clothes (3).
 
I discovered a good studio (3) that can perfectly make a design (2) but the material with the ideal capacities didn't cross my path yet.
 
In my studio there is a wall full of drawings and plans (2), rolls, boxes and samples full of material to work with (1) a list of places to visit for clothing (3).
 
 
Enough to do. A more extensive offer, more different garments,is something that I long for and that is now really necessary. I'm working on it.
 
 
In the meantime, I also like to keep you informed about the ins and outs through social media. I think about how this can and may evolve. Meanwhile, I'm hanging tags and embroidering the new series of sweaters .
 
 
But I found my true passion. And the challenges may be so great, so is my pleasure. Can you relate to that?
 

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The influence of local textile manufacturers and social enterprises as partners

sociale maatwerkbedrijven studio ama

An alternative business model for the fashion industry

It is a cliché but nonetheless true: the story of a start-up is one of trial and error. For Studio AMA nothing could be further from the truth. My goal: to make the fashion industry more ethical. In order to achieve this, I use an alternative business model with my label, where one threshold is a little higher than the other. And that slows down the process. Like today. I tell you what's going on. But let's start at the beginning.

Continue reading De invloed van lokale textielfabrikanten en sociale maatwerkbedrijven als partners

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§2.SWEATER: the social story of its production

How §2.SWEATER came about

The clothing of §2.SWEATER was made in a sheltered workshop near Ghent. This enabled me not only to implement the social aspect of the production, but also the local dimension.

When I was looking for the social added value of the new chapter, I stumbled upon a sheltered workshop in the neighbourhood. Small groups of employees with a distance to the labour market were working there under the guidance of a supervisor. The activities are adapted to their possibilities.

The demand-driven approach of the clothing department allowed me to pass on my specific wishes. Together with the supervisor of the group, I considered the possibilities. It soon became clear that with a very limited edition I was rather an atypical customer. Yet I immediately felt a connection.

In the end we decided to produce only one of the 4 to 5 models. Not really a variation in models, but therefore the possibility to work with 12 (!) different fabrics. That wasn't self-evident either. Yet it was a challenge that the team grasped with both hands.

Also ecological

In addition to the social aspect of a tailor-made company, there is also the local aspect. It is wonderful to be able to do the meetings in person, to be able to deliver and pick up everything yourself. The transport needed for the collection is minimal compared to the traditional approach. This 'made in Belgium' story is something to be proud of.

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Studio AMA learns in The Box

studio ama in the box

A pop-up period full of inspiration and new insights

"How do I introduce a new product to a large audience?" It's one of the many issues I was wondering about when I started my business. A possible answer: by engaging in conversation with the target group. But as a starting entrepreneur with a limited network, that's not easy. Until I got to know via De Startersfabriek the concept of The Box.

The Box is a "plug & play" business where entrepreneurs can test their ideas. For me, this meant that I didn't have to worry about the design, decoration and facilities of a space to introduce my product and story to the general public.

The sweaters are made from residual flows of mattress covers. This way they contribute to a durable wardrobe. But how important is it to my target audience to wear ethical fashion, where do they look for it and what is the price they want to pay for it? These are all questions about which I collected a lot of information during the pop-up period in The Box. I got the answers through conversations with visitors and through an online questionnaire that customers filled out.

I noticed it was a surprise to many people to whom I told my story. There was a lot of curiosity. People who want to know more. It motivated me in my commitment to be as transparent as possible. I want to tell as clearly as possible how I approach things, where everything comes from and how it is created.

Finetuning sweaters

The prototypes were predominantly white, which is not everyone's favourite colour. Understandable. I got the valuable tip to go to a company that often works with other colours. That collaboration was a success. The result was a collection of sweaters that you can see hereIn addition, I also took it to heart to design forms that fit for everyone. A passe partout in clothing. Not easy. It stimulated me to design a piece that was as accessible as possible, fitting in just about every wardrobe.

I also met other starting entrepreneurs, listened to their pitch and they listened to mine. I went home with inspiration to fine-tune my design and with a desire to start production.

Thanks for the opportunity and good luck to all the other starters!