This is a story about Just Fashion, and a strong woman we have gotten to know during the growth of our site. Johanna and her jewelry label JohannaN, was the fifth label to come onboard Just Fashion. We want you to know what she is up to!
Production in Bangkok
Johanna produce at two production sites in Bangkok, and they have been with her all the way from the start in 2009.
The metal workshops, she knows in and out, and they have grown with her. Tom and Boom are husband and wife-team. They have a small workshop in the first floor of their house in the middle of Bangkok. Tom is sawing all the pieces and Boom is managing their orders, checks the quality, and puts on chains before dispatch to Sweden.
They are setting their own price on their work and that’s what Johanna pay them – done deal. Johanna can now ensure them full time work – which I bet feels great!
Since Johanna has been growing a lot the last years, she now also works with a second and third family workshop, Joi and his wife Nok, and Cha and his wife Joi.
In addition she also works closely with Boy, her creative collaborator in Bangkok and he communicate with all teams and takes care of the logistics.
Watch this short film showing the handsawing in the workshop
The bigger factory that does the casting is family owned with around 60 workers. The last visit to this factory was in February 2014. This factory is also located in Bangkok, and will be a focus in January when Johanna is going back to Thailand.
The raw material
There are large deposits of zinc and copper in Thailand. These metals are combined to form brass, which is a traditional material, used in the Buddha figures and in many religious ornaments and sculptures.
This tradition means that there are people with knowledge about the old way of doing the sawing and casting process that can be given work. Over time, generations of creative artisans built a tradition of craftsmanship around brass – a craft tradition that today only exists in a few places in the world (Abareness also uses these skills in their jewelry workshop in Nepal)
It’s been a pain in the ass to try to track the raw material. With gold and silver, there are a lot happening in the world in regards to sourcing, but with brass, the doors are still closed and there is no tradition for these kinds of investigations. One believes that around 70 % of all brass around is already recycled, but we would of course like to know where OUR (our designers) brass is from. This is an ongoing process, if you are a brass wiz and want to share, let us know!!
Can a business have a personal moral?
Yes, we do believe they can!
There are so many people who are skeptical to the concept of ethical fashion. It is such a wide term, and also difficult to grasp and to see something else than a trend in it. Well, it is in these meetings with our designers, by knowing them, that all doubt about their intentions is washed away. With JohannaN, I have been sure from the start.
She has walked the hardest way, to make her brand sustainable, and now she has come full circle in so many ways. The things that are still difficult to change are really difficult to change!!! Its complicated, sitting in Sweden, trying to get access to the details around the production, not because things are secret, but because there are no tradition for these kinds of investigations in Thailand.
To manage to make a lasting change, it is essential for our designers and us to understand the culture in the country in which we operate. To make room for dialog that can stretch over time, so there are no misunderstandings.
It is about knowing peoples cultural habits, and making them understand that you want to get under their skin, working WITH them, not having hidden agendas and papers with small writing on them. And this goes both ways.
The skepticism is often grounded in fear of prices being forced down, or fair of losing the order completely, or that somebody will force changes on them that makes the production difficult. They can be scared that questions are about taking something away from them, like they may have experienced before.
In January, Johanna is going back to Thailand to visit the workshop and the factory. We are going to be with her on her journey through films, stories and pictures. The thing with great designers with good intentions is that it never stops. It’s not about either or, it is about the journey and the choices one makes along the way.
And remember, , if you buy your JohannaN products at Just Fashion, you support both of us in our work towards a sustainable future!
Marte & Just Fashion