Lovedesh™. My design dream for the 'Third World'. (Canceled)
A new philanthropic brand for the 'Third World'. Range of designer handcrafted items using indigenous textiles woven by local artisans.
Lovedesh™. My design dream for the 'Third World'. (Canceled)
A new philanthropic brand for the 'Third World'. Range of designer handcrafted items using indigenous textiles woven by local artisans.
This project is deliberately running for two months to allow time for people in LDCs (i.e. 'Third World') countries to discover Lovedesh™. But it's still urgent. My project is an all or nothing funding. I have to raise £100,000. Anything less, I don't get to keep a penny. So the sooner anyone kindly pledges an amount, the quicker my dream becomes a reality. Thank you.
Follow me on @lovedeshscout for the latest updates for this project.
HELP KICKSTART MY NEW FAIR TRADE DESIGNER RANGE OF FASHION ACCESSORIES?
I'm a British woman, using design, food and travel - to change how the rest of the world sees and experiences 49 of the world’s poorest nations, commonly known as the ‘Third World’ - countries such as Ethiopia, Somalia, Malawi, Lesotho but starting with my heritage, Bangladesh.
I know the politically correct term is actually Least Developed Countries (LDC), but as nobody seems to have a clue what I’m talking about when I say LDC, I’m sadly forced to stick with calling it the ‘Third World’. Besides, who gave it that label? The rest of the world did.
Here's a video I did, in early July 2013, which explains more.
Anyhow, I’ve been getting creative. To help find solutions. And my personal journey to Bangladesh led me to the use of design and the idea of Lovedesh™. It’s been a long and lonely quest, as I have been bootstrapping it all myself. From the R&D, the designing, sourcing, product and brand development, writing, plus creating and directing the entire artistic elements, to travelling alone, negotiating with folks out there, all with little or no help.
Why? To connect with local Bangladeshi folks. To delve deeper, into one of the most maligned and misunderstood countries. Plus I was inspired by my beloved late dad (more on that to follow).
WHAT I WANT TO DO
I want Lovedesh™, to help the rest of the world appreciate the extraordinary design, food and travel experiences, Third World countries have to offer. You know, the things that go unnoticed, that should also deserve our attention. The exquisite stuff. And to create interest and demand for their ancient traditions and handicrafts. First, I'll start with Bangladesh. And with design.
MY PROJECT GOAL & DESIGN MISSION
To produce and retail Lovedesh Army™ and Lovedesh Atelier™, two distinct ranges of handcrafted, stylish accessories. The Army is a range of stylish accessories starting with my leather bracelet. Atelier brings together the best of British craftsmanship and fair trade Third World weavers and artisans to showcase the indigenous textiles and traditional techniques.
To date, I have been focused on making samples and prototypes shown here. With the money I get, I can enter into a full blown handcrafted production process.
Collateral benefit. When I buy hand woven textiles from artisans, to use in my Lovedesh™ handcrafted design range. I'll be creating demand and showcasing Third World talent, in a whole new way. Maybe it might even inspire some of you to get visiting Third World countries because by travelling sustainably, you support the local economy, which is, I think, one of the most financially supportive acts, anyone can do. Also, it will help smash stigma and instead create a more balanced view of the Third World nations; to see folks out there as talented and highly skilled artisans rather than always being pitied or in crisis.
INTRODUCING THE LOVEDESH™ DESIGN RANGE
Each of the items from the two fashion design ranges Lovedesh Army™ and Atelier™, seen in the image below were created be me. To get the world to change how we see and experience Third World nations.
Each time someone wears an item from this range, of designer accessories, such as the handcrafted leather bracelet, they join the Lovedesh Army™. By doing this they are helping me, to smash the stigma and choosing to show their support for Third World countries. Also to make a promise.
My original, handcrafted leather bracelets, which when worn, symbolize a discreet pledge being made by the wearer to perhaps one day visit a Third World Country. It’s a stylish statement piece, in different colours, with the option of being worn in two ways - either with the brass or nickel plated rivets. Available in large, medium or small to fit the wrists of men, women and children.
LOVEDESH ARMY™ HANDCRAFTING PROCESS
At the moment, the Lovedesh Army™ leather bracelet is a prototype and can only be produced by me and my handful of British craftsmen, in small amounts as all are made by hand in London. It takes hours.
- I first source and handpick every piece of leather (skin) in London.
- Only the finest Italian or Belgian vegetable tanned leather is used.
- The skin is slowly and carefully cut by hand into a bracelet.
- Next, the Lovedesh Army™ logo is individually hand stamped.
- It is then personally stitched; its edges protected and polished by hand.
- Finally, a rivet (either in nickel or brass) is attached and screwed into place by hand.
Lovedesh Army™ - current position.
I am 90% towards finalising the prototype, ready for the retail market. All that remains is to test its durability, work out the finishing, edging and packaging.
This second prototype range, is again made by hand in London, and is a mammoth personal labour of love, combining the finest materials, worked on by me and with the collaboration of a handful of British leather craftsmen. It is my deep journey into the heart of a Third World Country’s textiles, designs and its ancient handicrafts. More on this process scroll below. But first, I hope you like what I have designed?
LOVEDESH ATELIER HRH TOUJOURS™ LEATHER TOTE. Seen below is my sample prototype. This iconic larger bag with room for a laptop, is for any occasion, for women of all ages. From a city worker, busy mother, a fashionista seeking to make a grand statement. I am also designing a much larger, overnight HRH Toujours Nuit™, in a unisex design, perfect for men or women on a weekend jaunt.
LOVEDESH ATELIER ARA™ JAMDANI LEATHER Seen below. A classic, stylish handcrafted bag with detachable shoulder cross strap. Great for carrying all the essentials, a woman needs. This is ready for handcrafted production.
LOVEDESH ATELIER RUBEL™ CLUTCH PURSE. A stylish handcrafted evening bag made from indigenous woven textiles. Ideal for a night out or a special occasion or moment. Weddings, sweet 16s, 18th birthday, or a precious love token for someone you adore.
LOVEDESH ATELIER MAYABI™. My range of handcrafted small coin purses using my personally designed Lovedesh™ prints or indigenous fabric sourced from trips to Third World countries.
LOVEDESH ATELIER HANDCRAFT PROCESS
- Every textile for Lovdesh Atelier™ is hand picked by me. Currently most are from Bangladesh. Rajshahi Silk, Jamdani to Nakshi Khantha designs, (more details below) are all indigenous textiles which are often one off, never to be produced again.
- Back in the UK, I've handpicked and sourced Italian or Belgian vegetable tanned leather skins, which avoids leaking harmful chemicals to the environment and is reknown for its high quality.
- Every skin is cut to a pattern using traditional leather tools, by hand.
- Inside every Lovedesh Atelier™ item, is a branded leather label, cut by hand, then also personally stitched inside.
- Lovedesh Atelier™ features either pure raw silk lining, bespoke or signature Lovedesh™ lining, designed by me.
- Every piece is individually handmade in London.
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES
Here are some useful links, that tell you more about the textiles I use.
Jamdani - Traditional Bangladeshi material, hand woven from memory, using wooden looms.
Rajshahi silk – Bangladeshi silk of the purest quality made from the cocoons of silkworms. There are three types: 1) Mulberry (the most expensive) from the silkworms of the Bombyx mori moth which only eats Mulberry leaves, 2) Eri or (Endi) whose silkworms feed on castor oil plant and 3) Tassar, silkworms that live in wild trees.
Nakshi Kantha – Colourful embroidered quilt cloth and a folk art of Bangladesh often depicting daily life or patterns.
Mudcloth – A textile (also known as Bògòlanfini or bogolan) from Mali created by weaving cotton and then painting with fermented river mud.
Indigo Dyed Cloth – A tie-dying technique with natural indigo dye from Gambia.
Bark cloth – A Ugandan textile, created by soaking bark and beating it together. Very delicate and fine.
Recycled beads – Handmade African beads recycled from plastics and paper waste.
Lovedesh Atelier™ - current position.
Each item is individually handcrafted as a statement piece that is original, bespoke, and utterly unique. Taking hours and hours to make. Again, I need to finalise all these prototypes, resolve a few technical issues (using delicate textiles and leather is no mean feat), make branded dust bags, sort the packaging, expand the range, and create a separate interior organiser bag, so they can take the retail market by storm.
Also finding fair trade suppliers and visiting them, has been a long, expensive process for me. It is critical for me to have the import and export side of the business set up especially as I will be dealing with Third World suppliers.
So far I have spent all my own personal money on funding and developing Lovedesh™. I have not taken any wages at all. I've simply survived by bootstrapping it alone and using my wits to make every penny go further.
But I need serious funding to make my dream a reality. Banks would find the fact I am doing business with the Third World too risky. And, I don't want the stress of high interest rate charges. I am worried angel investors and partners will forget the social and creative mission I am on, in the name of making a profit. Also, I don't want to stem my creativity or to explore countries or textiles that take a long time to bring on board. Sometimes even the fabrics I am using have never been modelled onto leather, so I am having to solve complicated technical specifications. All this takes time.
Plus, doing it all alone is a lonely job. Often, I have found myself in tough situations as a designer and social entrepreneur, so it would mean a lot, to have a global community like yours, backing my idea.
That is why I am here. I need your help Kickstarter community. I cannot do it all alone anymore.
ORIGINAL DESIGNER GIFTS FOR OUR KICKSTARTER SUPPORTERS
Anyone who supports Lovedesh™, is in line to receive one of many exclusive designer gift bundles, seen here.
My gifts are limited edition, exclusive, original and especially created just for the Kickstarter community. Everything you see here, has been thought up, produced and designed by me. You can select your Lovedesh™ designer gifts from the side bar on the right.
CLOSER LOOK AT MY KICKSTARTER DESIGNER GIFT BUNDLES
Exclusive Lovedesh™ Keep Calm Designer Oyster / Credit Card Holder
One Original Designer Lovedesh™ Jamdani Wristband - Illustration shows front and back design and each will be sequentially numbered.
The Designer Lovedesh™ Kickstarter Hoodie (feat. my crown motif).
One Iconic Handcrafted Lovedesh Army™ Leather Kickstarter Bracelet.
Limited Edition Hand Stamped Lovedesh™ Leather Signed Photo Print.
RSVP - LOVEDESH ARTISAN SLOW WOOD FIRED CURRY™ - A UK FIRST.
By invitation only. Come and taste my stunning curry inspired by Bangladeshis. Cooked to ancient traditions and brought to you by me, somewhere at a secret UK venue.
Taught to me by rural villagers in Bangladesh, the fresh spices are hand crushed with a rolling pin on a granite slab, then cooked slowly over a smoky wood fire. A UK first. Even worldwide perhaps, as you cannot get to taste a curry like this, anywhere but Bangladesh.
But don't take my word for it. Here's a film I made, where you can watch and listen to the reaction of British food bloggers and experts, after they tasted my curry.
Take a closer read for yourself the online reviews from food bloggers such as Zoe Perrett of Indian Spice Scribe here and other experts, on the Lovedesh™ website here. Plus more about why this curry is important, here.
IF THIS PROJECT STAYS UNFUNDED, IT MEANS...
THIRD WORLD STAYS IN DARKNESS. Lovedesh, as an idea is quite possibly, a world first. There is no design brand for Third World countries. So without your help, I will struggle. We, the rest of the world will continue to stay in the dark about the stunning food, design and travel that can be found in the 49 or so poorest countries in the world.
LOST TREASURES. Indigenous textiles will stay hidden or even lost forever. Ancient weaving traditions will die away as modern garment and textile factories swap artisans for cheaper processes.
Take the 'Dacca Muslin', which Roman scholar Ptolemy in second century AD mentions in Geography, and was thought to have been made in what we now call, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Considered the ultimate luxury and fit for emperors, it no longer exists. In 1840, Dr Taylor, a British textile expert, wrote: "Even in the present day, notwithstanding the great perfection which the mills have attained, the Dhaka fabrics are unrivalled in transparency, beauty and delicacy of texture."
Weaving was done only by early day and night, as strong sunlight could snap the fine threads. Nobody yet knows how the weavers spun cloth so fine, it's said it fitted into a matchbox. Egyptian Pharaohs used them for wrapping mummies. It's decline was swift. It is said by some, that members of the British Raj cut off the fingers of the weavers, in a bid to help keep the muslin trade in England thriving after the advent of cheaper and coarser cotton mills. Sadly I cannot show any pictures as Victoria & Albert Museum insisted I pay to use their photos for this project. But you can google images here.
NO ARTISANS. With no help from an accountant, lawyers or HR advisors, I cannot bring Third World artisans on as my suppliers. They won’t get to meet me or any other Lovedesh Scouts, who will collaborate with them to order their fabrics to help create an exciting, new design range.
FACTORY LIVES. Poverty struck workers will continue to toil away in sweatshops or factories, eking out a living. Those who are lucky, might get to work at fair trade cottage industries but they are still a minority of Bangladesh’s 168 million population, who are all squeezed into a land area, almost the size of England & Wales.
DOOM & GLOOM. Instead, I guess internet searches will continue to show up, just how depressing these 'Third World' countries are, and while we’ll be bombarded with charity appeals, people will, I think remain scared of these nations. Leaving it to the charities, politicians, fund raisers, and benefit galas and concerts, to tell us how needy the folks are out there. When I know, that aside from the poverty and crisis, it's not the whole truth and that through Lovedesh™, we could have all quickly and easily start to change, how we see and experience people living in Third World countries.
Single handedly, I've risked it all to get this far. Should my Kickstarter project fail to meet the goal, it will be a personally devastating and crushing blow for me. I've left no stone unturned to make this dream come true. To create project and gifts that you will find exciting and stylishly fun. All I can do now is have faith in the human spirit, and put my fate in your hands.
HOW WILL THE PLEDGED MONEY BE SPENT?
First, I have to deduct Kickstarter fees, plus the VAT (UK tax). On £100,000 this comes to £6,000. Then I have to ensure that I cover the cost of all processing fees and delivery of each reward, which adds up pretty quickly.
What’s left over will help me deliver my project goals of establishing Lovedesh Atelier™ and Army™, a mammoth task, as follows:
Resolve Technical Issues And Get To Production. To fInalise the prototype samples and production process for the entire range of Lovedesh Army™ and Atelier™, order packaging for the items, bespoke lining and resolve all technical and textile issues.
Army And Atelier Product Expansion. To explore variations of the bags, purses and bracelet and add more stylish accessories, ready for launch.
Processes. Speeding up the handcrafted process, so I can increase quantities of the Lovedesh Army™ and Atelier™ range.
A Secure Dedicated Design Workshop. At the moment I have been working out of a small box room and often I am stitching on my lap. Safe storage is critical, as the leather and textiles I buy are expensive, and these products need to be moved out of the crammed suitcases in which they currently reside in, and stored safely to protect against theft, loss or damage.
Tools. I would accommodate a large pattern cutting table with fully equipped craft and leather cutting tools, large self healing cutting mat and stamping machines. So I can work safely from my design workshop.
Team. Hire a handful of staff (as more Lovedesh Scouts), both in the UK and in Third World countries, as it is impossible for me to do it all alone. These scouts and I, will need to undertake regular unannounced spot visits to cottage or fair trade collectives to protect my supply chain and to ensure the wellbeing of any artisan.
Specialist Advice. I'll be putting processes into place producing a fair trade fashion range that relies on Third World suppliers and weavers. Expert advice from HR, accountants, lawyers with international experience will be critical.
Global Sourcing. So I can purchase more fabrics, handicrafts and stock from suppliers and artisans in Third World, I'll need to set up efficient importing processes. And negotiate suppliers and artisans and implement Lovedesh’s Values & Supplier policy.
Country Expansion: Add many more Third World country textiles to my range. In sight are Ethiopian cotton, hand dyed indigo; more mud cloth from Mali, Kashmiri pashminas and muslins and exploring what textiles might exist in Haiti.
New Lovedesh™ Print Range. Develop my own range of prints and designs, inspired by Third World countries. For example, here is my Ira, Kolshi Girl (water carrier) print.
MY STRETCH GOALS
To launch Lovedesh™ at a private event and have some of my fellow artisans from Bangladesh and other Third World nations, join me in London. Wouldn't that make a great night?
To host a Third World Design exhibition showcasing the work of local artisans.
To share food and travel secrets to help you experience Third World nations in a new way. A Lovedesh™ cook book to cooking lessons. Plus designing and curating trips to Bangladesh and other countries as part of Lovedesh Voyage™.
To add all 49 Third World countries food design and travel secrets to the Lovedesh™ brand (see flags above). So that next time, someone shares a really a negative story or image about one of the poorest nations, Lovedesh™, helps them to balance their view.
One day, to rediscover the technique for the lost and ancient fabric Dacca Muslin.
Truly wild, yes? But isn't that what Kickstarter does? Makes creative dreams come true?
BACKGROUND TO MY DESIGN DREAM
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
Google images for the search term ‘Third World countries’ and it’s likely you’ll see an upsetting photo or a story of terrible suffering. We’re constantly bombarded with distressing images, charity appeals, news of famine, war, genocide, poverty and disease. It’s always left me horrified and sad.
In May 2013, 1,217 garment workers died when the Rana Plaza building collapsed in Bangladesh. Prior to this incident, in December 2012, a further 400 died or were injured in a fire at the Tazreen factory. Myself, and many others were very distressed about it. I just don’t like the idea of millions of poor garment workers labouring in sweat shops in cities and factories, far away from their loved ones.
At the same time, it also got me thinking how we, the rest of the world, never hear about any of the good stuff. I wanted to discover the real, natural beauty of a Third World country like Bangladesh, the talented folks out there. The behind the scenes story.
And discover it, I did.
Stunning Isn't it? It made me think of all the other poverty struck nations. What if they too were also in the same boat as Bangladesh? Stigmatised. With nobody wanting to travel out of choice?
I then thought, surely there has to be a new way to show the real beauty of Third World nations? I think there is. Called Lovedesh™. It’s my little idea to try and solve a big problem. How to change how we see and experience these countries.
It's my heritage and the birthplace of my late father, Al-Haj Abdul Muquith Choudhury (1939-2004).
Lovedesh™ is, I guess my belated gift to my father. He grew up in the 1930s, in Bangladesh. One of 13 children, he'd lost his dad when he was a little boy. As a poor young man, scrambling for food and cash, who never got the chance to study, he escaped to the UK with a few pennies. He became a successful restaurateur in London. But he never forgot those, like him, whom he had left behind.
Once I graduated with a business studies degree, my father used to ask me to assist him in his philanthropic mission but sadly, I said no. I was too focused on my career in London. He then passed away unexpectedly in 2004 in a horrific road traffic accident in Bangladesh.
By then, I had already moved away from a corporate into a creative career. I started to learn more about his projects. From the girls' school he set up, to the disabled hospital beds he donated, and seed funding of many poverty struck villagers. Slowly I learnt to be fluent in the local regional dialect and in the national language of Bengali. Best of all I met and made friends with smiling rural villagers, who despite their hardships, chatted with me and made me realise how 'Third World' is, truly, a First World experience.
To read more about my personal story, click here.
MY SCOUTING TRIPS
Most people would never dream of travelling out to Bangladesh by choice. I did. After my father's death, and from 2009, I began visiting the country regularly. I'd scout out Bangladeshi artisans. skilled in food, design (textiles and handicrafts) and sustainable travel. I came across stunning and sumptuous examples, funny smiling people, yet irony is all that most of us know about this nation are the tragic deaths of garment workers, floods and poverty. After many scouting trips, I learnt all about their great design (textiles and handicrafts from fair trade collectives), delicious food cooked the slow, ancient traditional way, using wood fires and hidden travel spots.
I returned to the UK, in Spring 2013. I created a range of prototype bags and purses. None of which you will ever find anywhere else in the world.
MY SUPPLY POLICY
After the deaths of the garment workers and the raging debate on sweatshops, I spent much of my own personal time investigating its causes. I decided Lovedesh ™ was my way to keep a lookout for my fellow workers. I came up with my own values and supplier policy, that I want Lovedesh™, my brand to stick to. So poor workers don't get walked over.
I always try to source independent Third World artisans directly at grassroots level. When I find them, I’ll pay fair trade prices plus 5 per cent. Not as charity. No. But because my fellow artisans deserve to be paid more for skills that are highly technical. I also want to cover their costs of working remotely.
My artisans and fair trade collectives have direct contact with me, a foreign British woman with Bangladeshi heritage. When I meet them (often women), I speak the local language fluently. It always makes them smile. When I visit them, I am cutting the supply chain shorter. And getting direct access to these artisans. If by me, scouting for textiles, helps encourage others in Third World to see foreign demand for indigenous crafts, and they then want to get trained as artisans, than that's also a great sustainable by-product to help keep ancient traditions alive. Don't you think?
Most companies would have a dedicated army of consultants and teams plus many, many thousands of pounds before they even thought about entering a Third World country to do business. Me? I managed it all alone. You can read more here.
Well, not so alone. There will always by folks in Bangladesh who keep me smiling. Like the lady below I met in my rural village. And music of course like British band The Maccabees with their song ‘Went Away’ - on repeat - to keep me company into the late nights as I pursue my dream. Thanks gentlemen.
A SELF TAUGHT DESIGNER
I am self taught. I may not have a formal design background but I have always been creative and hands on. When I was 13, I used an industrial sewing machine to help stitch garments for my parents home based sewing business, after they had fallen on hard times.
Today, along with a handful of British craftspeople, who have really helped and taught me, I’ve learnt to produce prototypes, cut leather, stitch and stamp my own branded Lovedesh leather bracelets, under the Lovedesh Army™ label. I also created the Lovedesh Atelier™ concept all alone. And I have a great friend called Peter Upton, a senior consultant who pops in, to mentor me.
If you have scrolled this far, thank you for reading. Even if you don't make a pledge, please forward, share and spread the link the word about my Lovedesh™ dream and this Kickstarter project of mine?
And for the record. I say it proudly, loudly and clearly. Third World IS First World.
Yasmin Choudhury, Founder of Lovedesh™
To follow me personally on Twitter @yasminisyasmin
© 2013. All rights reserved on all designs, images shown.
Risks and challenges
Yes, its likely there will be delays or unexpected issues, when things get in my way, like petty bureaucracy, poor infrastructure, strikes, political instability and power cuts. It will take time. But my main job will be to always keep the Kickstarter community updated. Transparency is key. I’ll be sharing and uploading photos, films and information.
It has not been easy or straight forward so far. It's been a hard slog. But I've managed it. I hope I've proved to you that if I can come this far, alone, I can progress and succeed much more quickly, with you all behind me.
I know how to gain access to folks out there. Right at grassroots level. I am also pretty much an expert on travelling and doing business in Bangladesh now. On the odd occasion I write about it in my blog, called The NRB Diary.
My heritage also works in my favour. As has the effort I took, in learning the language. I am not naive. Doing business in Bangladesh is tough. More so, as a lone travelling woman. It still tends to be male orientated but I learnt to pave my way and to prove myself to them. I am told that my biggest assets are my passion, my down to earth approach and how I am walking proof, of living my dream, because I have bootstrapped the Lovedesh™ dream, all alone.
And, people make the mistake in assuming I am much younger, than I really am. I only share this because I have had a long career. With 15 years of commercial experience working across brands such as IBM and Barclays, combined with my creative skills, give me the tenacity to overcome any hurdles.
I am passionate and resolute in making Lovedesh™, a global concept. To smash the stigma that surrounds the Third World. It's my life calling. I hope, the stamina, expertise and knowledge that I have painstakingly collected, including becoming a self taught designer, will reassure you that I can drive this Kickstarter project.
"I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”
From W. B Yeats. The Wind Among The Reeds
- (60 days)