Written by Billy Mohammad
As news headlines continue to be dominated by stories of how climate change and global warming are impacting communities all around the world, the general public have seemed to have taken a growing concern for the preservation of the environment. This concern can also be seen in how people choose to spend their money. Nowadays, many consumers don’t just care about the quality of the product that they are buying, but also how sustainable the product may be or if the company that makes the product is committed to help preserve the environment.
One recent trend of products emphasizing sustainability gaining popularity can be seen in the fashion industry, with the rise of eco-print fashion. Unlike clothes made from conventional printing methods that utilize chemicals, eco-printing uses all-natural materials such as leaves or flowers and uses their natural shape mark and color as the printing pattern added onto the clothing. Because of this, clothing made from eco-printing can be said to be fully unique, as it uses the natural shape mark of the plant material used in the printing process.
In the coastal city of Rembang, Central Java, one eco-print shop known as OKVISA Craft, has gone from a small-scale entrepreneurial passion project to a rather sizable clothing business that has garnered prestige on even the international level. As the founder of OKVISA Craft Mrs. Okta has stated, this project was born out of her long-held hobby of knitting, a hobby that she saw had the potential to be a business opportunity for her.
However, profit wasn’t necessarily the primary goal she had in mind when this venture was started, as at first she planned to use this project to help empower the women in the local neighborhood by teaching them how to knit or embroider clothing, to give them skills that they can use to help garner some additional funds for their family. A goal OKVISA Craft has strived to achieve from the start of their founding up until today, by holding free knitting lessons every Friday at their shop. In addition, OKVISA Craft has also employed four employees to work in her business, all four of them being stay-at-home mothers that lived in the local community.
Founded in 2015, the products that were sold were originally made with conventional methods of printing, but in 2019, after attending a couple of workshops on eco-printing as well as joining a community of eco-printers in Indonesia known as Asosiasi Eco-printer Indonesia (AEPI), OKVISA Craft steered to a new direction, fully focusing on eco-print fashion. Now, OKVISA Craft boasts a sizable product catalog, producing clothing such as dresses, shirts, tunics, hijabs, shoes, and even additional pieces such as handbags, purses, and wallets, with all of them being made using said eco-printing process.
As mentioned previously, eco-print fashion uses all-natural materials, from the cloth used as the base which needs to be made from a natural fiber, to the printing materials that utilizes plants, leaves, or flowers, in fact, in the case of OKVISA Craft, many of the plant materials they use for the printing process are actually cultivated in-house. Additionally, there is zero waste from the eco-printing process, as unlike chemical-based printing, the solution used to bring out the natural color of the plant material is not toxic and can in fact be used to fertilize plants.
Evidently, the eco-print products from OKVISA Craft are not just sustainable but also commercially viable. The business utilizes online based marketing, using mediums such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and TikTok to market their products. Now, the business has been able to make a sizable profit from their products, attracting not just consumers from the local community or throughout Indonesia, but even garnering interest from consumers living abroad. Mrs. Okta credits much of this to their products being displayed in several high-profile international fashion/cultural festivals, such as the Dubai Expo in March of 2022 and Tong-Tong Fair in the Netherlands in September of 2022.
Looking back, Mrs. Okta stated that she never really expected to reach this level of success, as her original goal remained to help empower the women in her local community. Even now, she hopes that the success of OKVISA Craft can help inspire people, especially women, to try to create business ventures of their own. As she states, even a small thing like her hobby of knitting allowed her to create an avenue of empowerment, something she hopes can also happen for anyone willing to try.