Sustainability Spotlight: Original Source and Supply

Original Source and Supply is a small business based out of Sri Lanka that creates and sells hand crafted, thoughtfully produced and individually unique pieces of artwork, stationary, home ware and clothing. I was fortunate enough to meet the woman behind the brand to find out how it all began.

Part Spanish part English, Martina is a coffee lover and fellow bunting-enthusiast. Intelligent, sincere and self-deprecating, she has been living in Sri Lanka for the past three years. Initially transferred here from Spain while employed at an international retail brand, Martina has over eight years of experience working in the high street fashion industry and, though learning a lot, she also saw first hand the negatives effects that fast fashion is having on our planet and people alike.

Martina, founder of Original Source & Supply, styling her own block printed cotton shirt and sitting beneath her framed prints on sale at Cafe Kumbuk

Martina’s drive and enthusiasm for hand-made techniques is very close to my heart. In a world of mass production it is refreshing to see businesses like Source & Supply doing things a little differently. In her own words, “Original Source and Supply was born from a passion for travel and the discovery of new crafts and cultures. Deepening an understanding of them through conscious sourcing, thoughtful developing and slow travel.”

A pen and sketchbook are never far from her hand and she documents so much of her travels (and day-to-day life) through illustration. Her growing collection of popular greeting cards is proof of this. She started out with sketches of colonial buildings in Galle and Colombo, and recently released a new range of food, surf and palm-tree inspired postcards – perfect for travellers!

Martina’s fashion and textiles line is a story in itself. Sourced predominantly from Jaipur, India, she is able to find sustainable materials traceable right back to the mill and visits regularly to oversee the manufacturing and printing process while maintaining a personal relationship with the producers (check out her blog to find out more).

By taking a more ‘flexible’ approach to design – as opposed to using specific colours or fabrics – Martina works with the factories to find our what is available, either in excess stock or something already being run for other clients. Working this way ensures no virgin materials are being produced. Source and Supply create a very popular line of shirts, available for both men and women, as well as scarves, tea towels, bunting and bags. The most recent project, a personal favourite, is a line of block-printed Kimonos. Each piece comes with a hand made care booklet detailing how and where the product was made and how to look after it.

Most of the fabric printing is done by hand, using the old traditional woodblock process, which is experiencing a popular resurgence. This is the earliest and slowest of all methods of textile printing, but arguably the most rewarding as it produces unique pieces with unpredictable idiosyncrasies; no one product is the same. The Indian village where she sources this craftsmanship is specifically dedicated to the art of block printing, and has been for some 400 years, employing both women and men who live there.

The fabrics are woven and hand printed in large quantities before being shipped to Sri Lanka, where Source & Supply employs the help of local tailors to cut, sew and refine the finished product. Martina is present for each step and works closely with the tailors to ensure the finest quality for her products. With such a comprehensive process it is imperative that nothing goes to waste and so Martina is creative with her excess materials, creating accessories from the fabric cuttings and turning any paper waste into clothing tags and branding.

Bunting made from excess materials, on sale at Cafe Kumbuk in Colombo

In a world of fast fashion, pesticide-heavy farming and chemical dyes, the need for responsible methods within the textile industry is greater than ever. Martina explained the complex boom of the ‘organic cotton’ trend, with companies jumping on the bandwagon and attaching the buzzword to boost profits, while failing to maintain responsible production methods. There is a continual fight for the basic safety of workers and an end to child exploitation in developing countries, but big business often wash their hands of the responsibility.

It is for reasons like this that Original Source and Supply – and ethical brands alike – strive to be attentive and mindful each step of way. The power of the consumer should never be underestimated and it is more important than ever to know where and how your products are made. Through education, engagement and determination from small businesses like Martina’s; one can hope that the tide is slowly turning on unethical fashion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *