Interview with co-founder Aimee Changco
Trendiness and sustainability are one at BaemBu, a clothing startup that produces eco-friendly t-shirts in the UAE. By using bamboo for material and adhering to the highest ethical standards, this newcomer to the clothing world is already looking to take the lead in sustainable fashion. In an interview with co-founder Aimee Changco, Tharawat discovers BaemBu’s unique model of ethical entrepreneurship.
Tell us about yourself and your co-founder.
In 2014, my friend Matthew King and I decided to set-up Baembu built around our shared values and passion for the environment, artisans, and provenance. Matt is our supply chain specialist, accounting chief, and start-up catalyst. I am the PR accelerator, content curator, visual storyteller, and marketing guru.
How did you get the idea to use bamboo as the clothing material for BaemBu?
In Asia, bamboo has been used for centuries as a valuable resource, and has been incorporated to clothing as well. Our bamboo raw material comes from the Chinese province of Sichuan, where bamboo is used for textiles, grown naturally without pesticides or fertilizer. The reason that bamboo is grown naturally is that the plant has anti-bacterial properties – this feature carries over into our clothing, which is an advantage.
What 3 words would you use to describe a BaemBu t-shirt and why?
Comfortable, durable, and affordable. BaemBu fabrics are moisture-wicking, smooth & soft, and hypoallergenic. At the same time, the shirts are anti-bacterial and odor-resistant, with an added benefit of insulating properties that keeps you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The material also has an excellent natural resistance to harmful UV rays that is far greater than cotton.
Other than bamboo, what makes BaemBu different from other clothing manufacturers?
BaemBu is different from other products in the region because of the three accreditations that it carries.
The first is from the Soil Association, an independent, not-for-profit organisation and the world’s leading certification body for organic products. This logo guarantees that the cotton used to make the item is certified organic.
The second is from the Fair Wear Foundation (FWF), an international verification initiative dedicated to enhancing the lives of people working in the textiles industry. The Fairwear Foundation audits factories and working conditions to ensure, among other things, that workers are being paid a fair wage and have clean, safe, and happy working conditions.
Finally, we are also accredited by Confidence In Textiles, which guarantees that no one suffered to make the garment. BaemBu also carries the Oeko-Tex label, which was established as a safety standard throughout the textile manufacturing chain. Clothing with this label has been tested at each stage of manufacturing to make sure that it is free of harmful substances.
What are some of the bigger challenges you faced creating this startup?
One of the major challenges we had in founding BaemBu was setting up an online presence and payment system. In addition, creating awareness about BaemBu and educating the market has been a constant challenge but something that we have done well and continue to push ahead in doing so.
BaemBu has employed storytelling to create awareness. Why is storytelling an effective marketing tool for your business?
Storytelling is our driving force because it helps bring to light the movement of people and places that make up the story of Baembu. I think it is a revelation for people to witness the artisans who make our clothes and see the lives of the bamboo farmers up close for themselves, because it helps consumers connect the impact of their contribution to the cause of ethical clothing.
Storytelling reflects the authenticity and transparency of a social business by informing consumers about their active roles in the cause on a personal level. With storytelling, brands are in danger of looking like mere peddlers of products. Instead, brands can actively create genuine connections between the consumer, the social cause, and the brand.
What does it mean for BaemBu shirts to be ethical and sustainable and how will that help change the textile industry?
We spend a lot of time ensuring that our products can trace an ethical and sustainable path back to their origins, right up to the bamboo and cotton’s organic growth. Even our ink and printing process has to be ecologically beneficial, which is why we use water-based inks for our t-shirt logos and recycled paper for our hang tags and business cards. These efforts can ensure that we do our part in contributing something positive to an industry that has sometimes come under fire for its attitude regarding ethics and environmental impact.
Original interview posted on Tharawat Magazine
Featured Picture Courtesy of BaemBu