[BC Interview] Behind the brands - Théla

#WhoIsBehindTheBrand?

There are over 20 brands that Borderless Creations are sourcing from.  We’ve introduced the brands and their products but who are the people behind the brands?  What are their thoughts?

We asked the same 10 questions to all the brands so that you can get a better understanding of the brands and their stories.

Today we interviewed Ms. Diti, the Founder of Théla.

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Q1) What triggered you to tackle ethical and sustainable issues?

A1) Growing up in Mumbai, we did not know of single-use, disposable products like toilet paper, nappies and kitchen rolls. There were no fast food & take-away restaurants and no supermarket chains either. We grew up without plastic, with a lot less plastic at least. 

Later however, I witnessed the growth of consumerism and plastic consumption in India and began learning about the harmful impact of plastic on the environment.

About four years ago when I moved to Athens, I was confronted with a much higher level of plastic consumption than what I was used to. Here in Europe, plastic consumption is ‘normal’ and more challenging to avoid. Most people don’t know or have forgotten how they lived without plastic but I have been in a position to have lived through its emergence. Maybe that made me more sensitive to its impact and inspired me to do something about it.

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Q2) What has changed from when the brand started and now?

A2) When I saw so many plastic bags being used and discarded in Athens, I began cutting and crocheting with them because that is what I knew – it was a combination of my knowledge of design, my love for handmade and my eagerness to live as sustainably as possible. I did not think then that it would grow into a sustainable plastic upcycling business!

Today we have expanded to more craft techniques, are collaborating with sustainable and like-minded organizations in India and are combining the upcycled plastic fabrics with other sustainable materials like naturally dyed organic cotton.

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Q3) What was the hardest part of developing your brand? On the contrary, what was the best thing about continuing the brand?

A3) Starting a small business from scratch is always a challenge. Here, in Greece it is even more challenging and expensive because of the high taxations, VAT and social insurance contributions. Recent estimates say that these add up to over 70% of one’s total gross income. The state does not provide any benefits or concessions unlike in some other countries.
 
Théla is not just a retail brand, it is a means to increase awareness about the harmful impact of plastic on us, wildlife and the environment and to talk about its easy alternatives. This, for me is the most satisfying. 

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Q4) Tell us about someone that you know who are working on being sustainable. What kind of activity/initiative is this person doing?
A4) One of the initiatives we work with is a cultural craft organization in India called Khamir. They are a platform to revive the crafts, heritage and cultural ecology of Kutch, Gujarat. Apart from reviving traditional weaving skills, Khamir provides employment to waste collectors, medium skilled weavers, home-based workers, senior citizens and prison victims. Their plastic upcycling initiative also educates the community about the harmful effects of plastic waste.

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Q5) What is your favorite quote? 

A5) Right now a quote does not come to mind but my favourite word is ‘Ahimsa’ which is Sanskrit for ‘non-violence’. It is not merely a word but a principle of Yoga Philosophy. To live with the principles of Ahimsa is to have no violent thoughts, words or actions against not just other people but all things living. It is a path of compassion, one that I try to follow in my own life.

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Q6) Tell us about any books or movies that have had a great influence in your life!

A6) Recently I read a book called "Turning the Tide on Plastic" by Lucy Siegle and watched an online film screening of "The Story of Plastic" by Zero Waste Himalaya.

Both these are a great eye opener on the true story of recycling and what really happens when you throw plastic away.

Turning the Tide on Plastic:

 

ZeroWaste Himalaya:

https://zerowastesikkimdarjeeling.blogspot.com/

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Q7) If you can eat ANYTHING now, what would it be?

A7)  A hemp base, vegan pizza with broccoli, onion, capsicum and mushroom from Mystic Pizza and Pasta, a restaurant in Athens.

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Q8) If you can go ANYWHERE now, where would you like to go? 

A8) I would like to go back home to my husband and cats in Athens!

I had arrived in India in January to visit family and to work with Khamir and other organisations here on new products for Théla. I am now waiting for international borders to open so I can go back!

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Q9) Any other country or city you want to live?

A9) I never thought I would leave India but life takes unexpected and exciting turns! Someday I would like to return and live in a forest.

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Q10) What are you most mindful of when you think of your lifestyle? 

A10)  I am most mindful of taking it easy – of living as sustainably as possible, of trying to do my best with awareness and compassion instead of trying to be perfect. I do whatever is in my power and let go of the rest. And that’s okay.

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[About Théla]

Théla Design is a brand that started in Athens, Greece.

The designer hails from India and is a graphic designer. While in India, she saw the growth of plastic consumption and started learning how harmful plastic is to the environment. When she moved to Athens, she was confronted with an even higher consumption of plastic.

Having grown up relatively plastic-free, she was inspired to do something about it. That is when she decided to put her knowledge of design and love for handmade and started crocheting with discarded plastic bags.

The designer says, "I started Théla not only to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in the landfills and oceans but to also increase awareness about its impact and alternatives. My focus is on plastic because plastic (single-use or reusable) is the worst kind of material to dispose into the environment, however responsibly it is done. "

[Brand Site]

https://thela.eco/

Find Théla products on Borderless Creations:

https://borderlesscreations.com/en/collections/thela