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39. Lunar Zodiac Quilt with Berene Campbell and Wendy Chow – The Asian Sewist Collective Podcast
Patterns & Designers mentioned
More about Aims @Indy Bindy Fabrics
Indy Bindy Fabrics, website
Aims on Instagram @indybindyfabrics
Ada: Okay I have many favorite fruits that I like. I like watermelon, a lot. Mango, passion fruit, star fruit. Basically if it’s a tropical fruit, and if I grew up like eating it when we went back to Taiwan in the summer I like have good memories of the fruit. I like that fruit.
Welcome to the Asian Sewist Collective podcast the Asian Sewist Collective is a group of Asian people from around the world brought together by our shared appreciation for fiber and textile arts, and our desire to see more Asian representation in the sewing community.
Nicole: In this podcast, we explore the intersection of our identities, and our shared sewing practice as we create a space for Asian service and our allies.
Ada: I’m your co host, Ada Chen, and I’m recording from Denver, Colorado, Denver is a traditional territory of the US, Cheyenne and Arapaho peoples and my Taiwanese American marketer turned entrepreneur and these days you’ll find me running my own natural skincare business called Chuan’s Promise. That’s C H U A N apostrophe S promise and sharing my marketing tips on my blog. Most importantly, for this podcast, you can find my sewing @i.hope.so on Instagram.
Nicole: And I’m your co host, Nicole, I’m based outside of Chicago, the original homelands of the Council of the three fires, the Ojibwe, the Potawatomi, and the Odawa people. I’m a Philippine American woman, a lawyer by day and a sewing enthusiast the rest of the time. You can find me on Instagram @NicoleAngelineSews.
Ada: Before we dive into this week’s episode, Nicole, can you tell us about your current sewing project?
Nicole: Yes, so the day we’re recording, it’s so spooky season and I have never actually made my own costume. And I’m certainly not technically making one right now. But like, I’m not making the whole thing. But my office does a Halloween decorating contests. And so I can like reveal what we’re doing by the time this comes out. But we decided to do a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off themed room, which is perfect because my office is you know, like we’re in Chicago, all that stuff. And I volunteered to be Ferris.
Nicole: So I thrifted like a pair of wool, like men’s wool slacks that fit. I’ve got a white t shirt. And I took an old dress that I had been meaning to like refashion. It’s a leopard print dress. So you’ve seen you’ve seen Ferris Bueller? Right? Yeah, his vest is like vaguely 80s Like abstract kind of leopard print D but not really leopard print. So I unpicked the dress, which is a, which was a fitted bodice and then a gathered waist. And it just isn’t my style anymore. And I but I’ve been holding on to it because I like the fabric. But I’ve just you know, cut up three, like pieces so that it kind of looks like a large vest. I’m being very precise here. And I just need to figure out you know, just some black trim to complete the vest. Look, in some time tonight before tomorrow, I have to go to work tomorrow. So we will we will we’ll see how it goes. And so and kind of but then kind of a neat, you know refashion like taking apart a dress and turning it into something else. Plus the bodice is really cute by itself. It’s it’ll be it would be a crop top. But I am thinking like of putting a panel on the back and like a some kind of panel at the bottom. So that it’d be like a cute top like I’m talking like hot pink spin, like what are spandex, really old leggings. So that it’s like the leopard print with like a shock of bright colors. But that’s that’s what I’m working on right now. Kind of something out of the ordinary for me. What about you Ada?
Ada: Can I ask a question about your office costume group. Like if someone with is someone doing the car, okay, it’d be the car.
Nicole: So my best friend also works with me. So that’s like a huge, awesome thing for me to say. And she is doing the like a cardboard cutout of the red car to put on the wall. And we’re doing separate like stations in the room. So like one area is going to be you know, really feel the other is going to be the Art Institute where we’re like printing out, you know, some of the artwork and then like putting them on cardboard boxes so that they’re like fake, you know, fancy frames. And then another section is going to be the French restaurant that they sit at. And another is a mini parade float just like a desktop one. That’s someone that’s making and then a couple of the other people on the team are going to wear like later Hosen and someone’s going to be Sloan and someone’s going to be Cameron so it’s involved. It’s involved.
Ada: That is amazing. I love it. I am not doing anything that level of festive I think if I remember, which I’m seeing right now like if I remember I’ve already been told by people that they will be on Zoom calls with me tomorrow with costumes on and I was like if I remember I’ll try to find something in my house. I think it also is, you know, Halloween is a Monday, this year. So it’s like not as fun because you really started the work week. But what I’m working on is, as the longtime listeners of the podcast will know, the never ending bridesmaids dress saga. The dress has arrived, it’s the icy blue one that I’ve talked about in previous episodes, my friend and I, we were assigned the exact same color from the same vendor. And so we ended up going with the same style too, because of the way it fit on both of us and the way that the other styles did not fit on either of us. And this style has this like it’s, it’s called adjustable or something. But basically, it has two front floor length panels like empire waist to floor length panels of chiffon that you can like tie around in different ways to customize the dress. And if you go on the designers website, there’s all these different ways, but I really didn’t like how when you’d tie them, like there would be a knot in the back of your dress of chiffon like it just didn’t look cute. Yeah, turning around, and I was like I know how to sew. So last weekend, I took the very long strips of chiffon and I just hand sewed them in place in the front and then tack them down in the back with some snaps to make it like an actual, you know, side off the shoulder kind of strap and, and not have some weird knot in the back. Also, I was like what if I try to sit like and I lean on this not it’s not gonna be cute. But now I have to have the dress, which as everybody who again has listened to a podcast for a while knows that that I hate hemming chiffon. Like the what the worst. And this time I am trying the ban roll method because I had enough foresight this time to plan ahead and order 50 yards ban roll from Wawak. Yeah, so I have if anybody needs ban roll, I got I hope I don’t have to hem this many things ever. But I want the whole roll of ban roll going. I’ve cut it already. So all I have to do is really just zip zip and finish it and make sure that the inner lining, which was a different length already is at somewhat of a more appropriate length for the wedding, which at this point is in a little over three weeks, almost four, but we’re flying out a little early because it’s around Thanksgiving time. So I have three weeks to finish.
Nicole: I think that’s sounds like you’ve made a lot of progress already. So hopefully I think that sounds like enough time. Right. Famous last words.
Ada: Yeah, you know, it’s like those projects that you it’s like chores like sewing chores versus sewing fun like I have, I have the Brigitta Helmersson Zero Waste dress. I think that’s what it’s called the tiered dress cut out, I have an link to another big four pattern that was cut out like from ages ago, but I cannot mentally get myself to work on those until I get my sewing chores done which is like, clean up the sewing space, which I kind of did most of and doing the alterations on this dress to make sure it fits. But speaking of panic, that is a great transition to plug our brand new fundraiser, which is we’ve come out with a set of garment labels. There are five different designs and “this was a panic sew” is one of them. There’s also one that’s a really cute ghost that says “mystery fabric content”. One with the little washing symbol that says “forgot to pre wash”. Oh, there’s one with a little cute earth that says on the back “made with fabric purchased while traveling”. And what was on the last one is “this is a wearable toile”. If you’ve listened to this section of the podcast before, you know that I make a lot of
Nicole: Those are all very theme appropriate. It will make you think of us as you sew them into your garments and they are so cute. And check out our Ko-Fi page for more information about ordering and we’d love to see them out there in the world.
Today we are chatting with Aims Watts, owner and curator of Indy Bindy Fabrics, a fabric store that specializes in Japanese in the fabric. Hi, Aims. Welcome to the podcast.
Aims: Oh, hi. Thanks for having me.
Nicole: We’re so glad you’re here. Could you please introduce yourself to our listeners?
Aims: Sure. So I’m Aims. My pronouns are she/her. I’m half Vietnamese, half Australian, and I am currently living in Tokyo, Japan.
Ada: Awesome. Welcome. And you actually wrote to us to get all of this started a while ago. So I would love to talk a little bit more about your identity and maybe if you could share a bit about your experience growing up in Australia.
Aims: Sure. So I was born and raised in Canberra, Australia, which is not a rural country and as the capital of Australia, it’s a real kind of melting pot of people and cultures. We’ve got a lot of embassies there. We’ve got the public service, we’ve got universities so it attracts all kinds of different people. And I guess growing up in that environment, I just always thought of myself as Australian. But at the same time, also Vietnamese. And I just really thought nothing of it. And I didn’t see it as like, as my identity is making me different. It was just kind of who I was. So then when I did experience racism as a little girl in primary school for the first time, you know the first time that I remember. And I remember it vividly, it really came as a shock. And I guess, as I got older, you know, working in part time jobs through uni and high school, whether it’s a customer, or if it was just someone new I met then always ask what my heritage was, or even where I came from. And depending on how cheeky I felt, at the time, maybe I’d just say, Canberra, or maybe that I’d actually tell them about my heritage. And then I guess, my family did a lot of travel, and particularly in Asia. And so when I In contrast, when I was in Asia, I would always be perceived as white. So I think the fact that people will just perceive me as different or other kind of just became more apparent, as I grew up.
Ada: That’s kind of terrible, but funny, that universal experience that we have of like, where are you really from? And I like I’d would do the same thing as like, I’m from New Jersey. Why do you want?
Aims: Exactly, yeah,
Nicole: Yeah. No, thanks for sharing that. That’s really good to hear about how, like you said, Ada, common experiences all over the place. And you’ve shared with us. So we know you’ve spent a great deal of time in Japan, and you are now living in Tokyo. And you started with your student exchange experience at 16. And we’re curious, is it common in Australia or in your high school program to go on an international exchange program,
Aims: Not so much, I know a few people that did it. But at high school, it’s not so common. It is more so at university, and I did it actually, outside of my high school, I went privately through an exchange program. And the reason that I did it at that stage was because my mom actually did something similar from Vietnam, she went as an 18 year old from Vietnam to the US. And it really changed her life. And she recommended it to me. And so I was up for the adventure and went off and did it myself as well.
Nicole: That was so cool. When I was in high school or college, I was not brave enough to do anything like that. Like, I don’t know, Ada, did you study abroad or do an exchange at all?
Ada: I didn’t study abroad, but I when I was, I think it was around 16 or 17, the year before my senior year of high school, I did a program through the government of Taiwan, which was like taking all of the kids who had been born to citizens who had left. Overseas Chinese is like the translating term. And they brought a bunch of us back. And for those people who are listening who know what Love Boat is, it wasn’t Love Boat. I’d like to clarify that. Love Boat is a program that existed, that part of the name was kind of more for people to hang out and have fun and have a cultural exchange and maybe meet someone. I was not on that when I was on the sister program, which was like for the nerds, which we went back. And we trained on how to teach. And then we were, as the native English speakers sent to different parts of the country, like and I mean, like country country to teach English. And I actually ended up in a town. I think I’ve talked about this before, but I ended up in a town that was an Aboriginal, primarily Aboriginal town in Taiwan. And so we it was like, a deep dive where you were kind of just like, thrown in there real deep. And that was for a few weeks in the summer. And then after that, I was allowed to somehow stay in Taipei by myself for another few weeks after that. So I did have some sort of exchange, although it was not probably as structured as Aims’ experience was.
Nicole: Yeah, that’s amazing. And you both were so young, when you did that I didn’t, I didn’t become brave enough until I was at law school. And I was like, I gotta do this before it’s too late. But so Aims, want to ask you, you know, how has your time spent in Japan influenced your Asian identity?
Aims: Well, I guess it has given me more empathy for my mom’s experience. So going from Vietnam to the US never having been overseas before not speaking a lot of English and also in the late 60s, just how much harder or how much more of a shock, it would have been for her. So it gave me more empathy for that. I think that it also I think, sparked more curiosity in me just about my family’s story about migration to Australia and also most of my mom’s family, her sister and her brothers, her mother all ended up in the US. And interestingly, her host mother from that exchange program was the one that sponsored them out of the refugee camp and everything. So yeah, it really sparked some interest, I think and more questions from me to my family about that.
Ada: Wow. And yet she so she’s the one who ended up in Australia even though she’s the one who did the exchange?
Aims: That’s right. Yeah. Mainly because of love, she’d met my father who was Australian and ended up in Australia.
Ada: Fair enough. And here you are.
Aims: I guess like thinking about it too, just my Japanese my experience in Japan, in general, my age and identity, like Japan is still one of the most racially homogenous countries on the planet. So when I first came as a 15, 16 year old, I would get asked if I was mixed blood. And that was kind of the term for like, I guess, racially mixed. And that’s a term that has come from the American military presence in Japan, post war, and also Japanese colonization of other countries further back in history. So it has negative connotations around it. So that was, I guess, more of that defining of that experience of being neither nor, but more recently, the Mixed Blood term has kind of been replaced with half. And then even more recently, there’s a movement here about changing the terminology to double. So playing on the positives of both sides, rather than the lack. So I actually don’t mind what term is used. But it’s just interesting experience, I think being defined and grouped together with people that are different when it’s such a diverse group.
Ada: Yeah, I mean, if we think of people who are of mixed Japanese heritage, like they look all sorts of different ways, because they’re all different doubles, I guess, is, makes us have two different cultures, and races. And I guess it’s kind of interesting to me that you’ve been around. And in Japan, I guess, now long enough to see that kind of evolution of the culture and the dialogue. And so, you know, back to the main reason on why we’re talking today, you obviously sell Japanese textiles. But I want to go back to how you kind of started. So we know that you were inspired to start selling these textiles when you were in an indie fabric Fair in Tokyo, with your son, Indy. So can you tell us more about that first fair, and what that experience was like, or even how you got there, and why it was specifically important for you to sell indie fabric.
Aims: I had a previous career in humanitarian aid and development. But I’ve always wanted to do something creative. And so my business kind of evolved when I had a natural break in my career. And my kids were born when I thought, Well if not, now then when, and I dove in. And really, when I was at that fabric fair, it was literally a friend of mine knew that I love fabric knew that I loved sewing, she sent me the link, she’s like, have you seen this, you have to go and I went with my son, he was strapped onto my front, the carrier and I was wandering around. And I just started talking to the designers. And so my whole business has just come about from those discussions with the designers and them expressing that they wanted to take their fabrics to the international market that they haven’t been able to, for a variety of reasons. And so it really boils down to wanting to support those artists, for me are the ones that actually pour their heart into creating the fabrics. And so I want to help them keep creating that art, but it also, so all of my designers are based here in Japan, and they’re indie designers, but they have really different aesthetics, different design processes, different printing methods, some of them use really traditional printing methods and printing houses. And with the evolution of digital printing and large scale printing the demands that has really reduced. So it’s important for me to try and help them keep getting business for those printing houses. Because it would be just such a shame to lose this age old beautiful craft. That’s probably the main reason on why why indie fabrics, but the other is also I just love sparking creativity and others. So I just, I find it so rewarding when I see a customer, like come back to me and say that they love the fabric that inspired them and that they’re wearing the garment all the time. But there’s nothing better than that. So I just want to bring something new and different into the market.
Nicole: That’s really cool. And that’s so sweet that your son was a part of that experience. So your son’s name is Indy. And it’s Indy. Right?
Aims: That’s right. Yeah, that’s where the name of the shop came about?
Nicole: That’s so sweet. And you said that, you know, all of the artists that you work with have different styles and aesthetics. But is there something specifically that you as a shop owner that draws you into particular artists?
Aims: It really depends on the designer, sometimes it might be an aesthetic that I don’t have in my shop currently. And I think it would complement the whole collection really well. others it might be that creation process or the designers story that I find inspiring. other times it might just be a fabric that takes my breath away and I know that I have to share that feeling with the other sewists as well. They have to get into the international market too. So it’s kind of a combination of those things depending on the designer
Ada: And you said it yourself that your designers that you work with kind of have different types of styles is there? I guess, how would you describe your fabric selection? Like? Are there certain types of fabrics that you gravitate towards or certain types of design?
Aims: Um, for me, it’s that real artisanal piece. So I guess if I had to choose just a few words, it would be like artisanal original, like conversation starters, that it’s fabrics that I want people to connect with, and love and know, what’s gone into it as well.
Nicole: So as a shop owner, do you often find yourself enjoying your own goods? Like, how does the fabric itself, you know, relate to your own sewing practice?
Aims: That is the biggest danger with my job. is constant temptation for these gorgeous fabrics. But I guess, in terms of it was, how has it affected my practice? Is that right? Yeah, so I guess, well, I’ve found for as long as I can remember, like, I don’t actually remember what the point was where I learned to so I watched my mom as a little girl. And then I kind of used it to experiment with style in my teens and 20s. And when I became a mom sewing was that thing for me, that was like, just for me outside of my identity as a mom. So then when I found these indie fabrics, it really up leveled my sewing practice. So designer fabrics are an investment. And so knowing that it’s made me slow down, and kind of be more thoughtful with what I’m actually going to sew, like, Will I actually wear it? How is it going to fit into my wardrobe, and then I’m taking the time to finish things properly, rather than just kind of sewing to get it done. So that it will just last as long as possible, and I can just wear it over and over again. So I think that’s probably the biggest way.
Ada: I’m gonna deviate a bit because I know obviously, Australia to Japan, like that is a long flight. Um, did you bring your sewing machine with you like, are you sewing where you are now did you have to get a new machine because I know the plugs are different.
Aims: They are different. The plugs different and the voltage is different. So it’s a little bit of a pain that way, but I’ve got a converter right next to me and a bunch of adapters as well. So I definitely bought my sewing machine, I had to send it over our shipment of the rest of our things. So I had about three weeks, three to four weeks without it, which was painful. So much so that I put a call out within the local community here, I was like anyone with a sewing machine I can borrow? Luckily, someone lent me the machine while I was waiting. So I have been reunited with my machine. And we are very happy. But I had a kind of temporary fix in the meantime.
Ada: And do you pick your fabric first as a fabric shop owner? Or do you pick your pattern first?
Aims: Generally, it’s the fabric, but it’s a little bit of a kind of dance between the two. Earlier this year, I really wanted to kind of dive into redefining my me made style, and like reviewing what was in my wardrobe, because I felt like there was a portion that I wore all the time, and there was a portion down the back that just never came out and saw the light of day. So I dove into that. And then as a result of that, now, kind of at the beginning of every month, loosely, I look at what fabrics I want to use. And then I review what patterns I have what inspiration I have, I have like 1000 screenshots on my phone of things that I want to make. I’ve got an IG folder Instagram folder of like saved photos. So I look at all of that I kind of pair what I’ve got my patterns and my fabric and then I go from there.
Nicole: I wish I was that disciplined in my sewing.
Ada: Yeah, right?
Nicole: I like to think I have like I am. So I’m only in my fabric, if I know what I’m going to do with it. And that feeling lasts for like maybe a month at a time and at any given point in time. And I’m like, ooh, that’s pretty. I don’t know what I’m gonna do with it. But I like it. Thank you very much like,
Aims: Yeah, it’s impossible. There are too many beautiful things. Yeah.
Nicole: Yeah, totally. So turning to the business side of Indy Bindy Fabrics. It’s like, what does the curation process look like from finding the fabric to adding it to the shop for sale?
Aims: In terms of finding the fabric and the designers, there are a few different ways. So it’s either through introduction or recommendation from my existing designers, because it’s a fairly small community. And then it’s also from fabric fairs, and also good on social media, just doing the old stalk and building a relationship and going from there. And then it kind of moves into the part where it’s a conversation between the designer and I. So we meet we talk about both of our goals and what will work best in terms of what they can provide because all of the fabrics are printed in very small print bands. And so what is actually possible for them, and also what I think my customers want the most so we kind of find that place in the middle. And then it’s just about photographing the fabrics, translating the story and the info and uploading it for release.
Ada: And working with these like limited print runs like is there like an upfront investment that you have to do in order to work with these fabric designers?
Aims: Fortunately, the way my business works is that I pay for the fabric as it’s sold. So in terms of investment, for me, it’s really going back to that fabric that I want to sew and showcase. And so that’s kind of the marketing piece, particularly on social media. And then the all of the infrastructure. So website, software, bookkeeping marketing time, and also contribute to shipping and that kind of thing.
Nicole: So as a one woman business owner, and I’m sure Ada can relate to this, you wear you just listed a bunch of stuff and you wear so many hats. So what is your favorite part of running your fabric business?
Aims: Well, apart from being surrounded by fabric every day, I guess my other favorite part of the business is just really getting to be creative. Like I can be creative with the business, I can be creative with fabric. And also, I have Indy Bindy Sewciety. So I get to combine, I’ve always loved teaching in some one way or another. So that’s a place where I get to combine teaching and sewing and get to inspire others and encourage their creativity as well.
Nicole: So what’s the thing that you dread the most about being a one woman business owner?
Aims: I guess the part that’s really not in my zone of genius is the bookkeeping finance part of it, it is not the funding. So I’ve recently outsourced that, which feels fantastic. And then the other part is really kind of the back end of the website and all of that maintenance. So hopefully, that will be what I do next, in terms of outsourcing. It’s just those things that really, someone else could do way better. And it just takes me much, much longer than it should to do.
Ada: And since you do everything except for just the bookkeeping, now you’ve outsourced it. Can you give us an idea of like what a typical day in the life of Aims looks like as, as a fabric shop owner, and also, you know, living in Tokyo now with your kids, I know that’s been a relatively recent transition. So has that change what your day to day kind of looks like?
Aims: Yes, coming back to Tokyo has definitely changed my day to day. But in the best way, we’re all really, really loving being here. And I guess the beauty with the digital business is that I can kind of work from anywhere and Tokyo has the best coffee shops. I love to find a new one to work from if I’m doing that back end piece of the business. But in terms of like a typical day, I guess I usually wake up around five in the morning. And
Nicole: That’s so early for me. Like that’s what that was what the face was, I was like
Aims: It’s an early start, but it’s kind of that’s my little kind of piece of time that I’ve carved out for myself. So no one else is awake, the house is quiet, I can’t and then I kind of review my goals and I plan out my day, I do a little bit of meditation. And then the way I plan my day is I usually have a long list of like you’ve said, so many things to do. But I just pick three things that if I achieve those, then I’ll feel satisfied with my day. And I’ll feel like I’m moving towards my goals. So then in that early morning peace, I make a start on one of them. And then the kids normally get up about 6:30, 7 o’clock. And then it’s all about getting all of us ready for the day and out the door. And then once the house is quiet again, I kind of go back to working on those three tasks until about 3:30pm when the kids come home. So those tasks could be anything from photographing fabric, creating listings, social media content, communicating with my designers meeting new designers, what else is their business learning for myself in terms of actually growing the business or getting on a live call with my sewciety members or creating a training for them? So there’s kind of a whole host of things, and it just depends on that priority for the day really.
Ada: I mean, it kind of sounds like my day minus the kids part. You start out with a task list. You try to go for as long as possible. There’s probably going to be an email or something that comes up.
Aims: Exactly, yep. do our best to stay on task. Yeah.
Nicole: And that all sounds really like well structured and productive again, like I’m like, Oh, wow. That’s really like I think I just need to be more disciplined about my time perhaps. And I need to start getting up a little earlier these days. Although in the northern hemisphere, it’s starting to get darker earlier and staying darker for longer so like it’s hard. So on the business side, you know, you mentioned you were humanitarian aid and that must be light years away from running your own fabric shop. So what was the most surprising thing you learned about maybe yourself, or, you know, just starting a business in general, when this all came to be.
Aims: it does feel like but it’s light years away from what I used to do. But I guess the most surprising thing is yeah, it’s not easy, but it doesn’t have to be stressful to start and run your own business. So I’m my own boss. And I feel like that’s a great luxury to have. So I can create my life by design, which means I can decide what my priorities are. Or I can decide what I want my life to look like. And I can design my business around that. So like later today, I’ll volunteer at my kids school for Halloween to hand out popcorn, and then every Tuesday, I can take it off. And I’d go to karate, I commute an hour each way and go to the dojo. And so there’s things like that, that, you know, I never really pictured when you think about running as an entrepreneur running your own business, you think that it’s go go go all the time, and when you’re on your own, but it doesn’t have to be 24 hours a day.
Ada: There’s like more stuff I could ask you as a fellow business owner, entrepreneur, but I guess I’m curious because you’re, I think the second fabric shop owner that we’ve had on, and Sandeep from Sister Mintaka, obviously, like had her story and how she came to sewing and why she sources her fabrics, the way she sources them to really bring something unique to the UK market. And obviously, you’re kind of almost doing the opposite. You’re bringing something unique from one place to the rest of the world. I guess my question for you is, how do you adequately or accurately like communicate what you’re doing with your business to everybody in the sewing world? Like is there stuff that you found harder in doing that and doing your business because let’s be honest, it’s easier to sell, like, you know, a Ruby Star Society or like a known entity, kind of very, I don’t know, say generic where maybe maybe more homogenous and maybe more universally appealing fabric, than it is perhaps to go out and work with designers and really invest in them. Like you’ve kind of shared that you that you do when you’re working with them on all of the things that they’re getting ready so that you can go sell and market the products. So yeah, it’s what have you hit and kind of growing the business that’s been hard about doing it this way. And is there anything that you would want listeners to know that sets your business apart?
Aims: I think it does feel hard sometimes in terms of finding my person, the one that’s really going to love the fabric. But I know that there are so many people out there that do love the fabrics, but like you said, it’s not a mainstream product, it’s not something that people are used to, to seeing or to working with, like it’s common substrates like linen and cotton and that kind of thing. But the story behind it is really what makes it unique and the whole process of creating it. So it’s really about finding for me, I’ve struggled over the years thinking or maybe I shouldn’t be bringing in some of those mainstream fabrics to to get those people in the sewing community that already using those fabrics to see my designer fabrics as well. But I really don’t want to dilute what we have here. And I think it’s really special because it’s all about the artisan behind the fabric. And it’s about preserving the craft and sewing itself is a craft. And I think that’s why we love it, we can immerse ourselves in it, we can express ourselves. And so I think it’s just a place where those two things meet. And I think it’s just about getting in front of more people and social media, Instagram has been a wonderful place to do that the Instagram sewing community is so lovely and warm and welcoming. So it’s just, for me personally, the way I approach it is about engaging with people on a human to human basis. So rather than as a business, I like to connect with people about our mutual love of sewing and fabric.
Nicole: So it sounds like so much of your investment and involvement in the sewing community is really just about the people more than the fabric. And so to that end, is there you know, a story from an artist that you’ve worked with that like really fueled you in this, you know, endeavor of like business creation, and like what is your favorite you don’t have to name like names, but what’s your favorite story? So I mean, that really stuck with you with these artisans.
Aims: Which one to pick? Well, I guess most recently I was visiting one of the designers I stock who had an atelier right down the south of the southern most of the main islands of Japan in and so I went down to visit them and we’ve met face to face before but I hadn’t had the opportunity to see their Atelier and the very first time I met them was at one of these fabric fairs and their fabrics are just so unique. They’re like incredibly rich colors and really interesting characters and shapes and layers to their fabrics. And it’s actually a husband and wife team in the company. And she does all of the design and he hand prints the fabrics by himself in their Atelier, and they’re just so gorgeous. And they’re a beautiful couple. And I approached them a number of times, actually to join the shop. And they didn’t agree, we just kind of had the conversation going, but they kind of kept putting me off. And then the more we talked and delved into it, the reason was, is because they can’t produce huge amounts of fabrics, because they literally do everything themselves kind of similar to how I run my business. It’s just a small indie company. And they were nervous about creating that large demand, but they did want people to use their fabrics. So eventually, we agreed that we do limited time sales so that there’s zero pressure on them, because I don’t want to stress them out. They also like me have family as their priority. They’ve got two kids same age as mine. And they want to keep that balance between their passion, their business, and also their family. So we found a model that works. And so one or two times a year, we do a limited time sale of the gorgeous fabrics, we pick a selection together. And we can take that to the international market that way. And most recently, I got went down. And I’ve spent the day with the kids and their family and they kind of integrated me into family life. And it was just so beautiful. It felt like a real full circle moment.
Nicole: Oh, that sounds really wonderful. And so how would people get notification about when something like that like the limited I want, I’m shopping now. I’ve been shopping mode, this happens often on the podcast.
Aims: I love it. The best way is on my email list. So email list subscribers always know when things are coming first, and they also get first access to new releases not first access, I have a VIP club. But after the VIPs the my newsletter subscribers get first access before I take any fabrics to the public. Because of those limited amounts, I want to make sure that they can purchase some if they want to. And then if there’s meterage left, I open it up to public listing as well. So the newsletter list is the best place to know what’s coming.
Nicole: Good to know.
Ada: I love hearing about those designs too, because they sound very like modern and refreshing. And perhaps not what someone would think of immediately when they said oh like Artisan Japanese fabric designs. Like I don’t think that’s what would come to mind necessarily if you didn’t see your website or your Instagram or the the fabrics and highly recommend following on Instagram, and stalking along, especially if you want to get in on that sign up for the newsletter to get the first or second dibs on the drop. But um, we’re always getting asked about cultural appropriation if somebody’s not of Asian descent is using Asian fabrics. And so I guess my question for you is, what do you want people to know about the fabrics in your shop and the artisans that they’re supporting? And how would you want them to best enjoy these fabrics, whether they are of Japanese heritage Asian heritage or not?
Aims: It is a tricky one to navigate that I think especially like as you mentioned, those more traditional fabrics that I think people think of if they think of Japanese fabrics, and those artisan crafts, like the kimono fabrics and that type of thing. Traditional fabrics that are used for traditional garments with cultural significance, I think that’s a little bit more difficult. And I think in that case, not being an expert, but for me personally, it comes down to showing respect and giving credit to the fabric and where it’s come from. But in terms of fabrics in my shop, I think it’s a little bit easier because they are created by these designers for this specific purpose for people to use. So I try to share regularly about the designers that are behind the fabrics. And I just love people to know that how much love and passion and thought and artistry has been poured into those fabrics. So that’s why I do that. And I’d love them to feel like the hands of the designers when they pick up their fabric when it gets sent to them more so know that the designers are actually thrilled when they see people using their fabrics and putting their own creativity into the mix. So often when I meet with the designers, we’ll talk about who’s made what what are the which are their designs and that kind of thing, and it feeds it all feeds back into the creation process as well. But in terms of how I’d love people to enjoy the fabrics, I guess the main thing I’d like to encourage would be even though it’s the good fabric and this applies to my shop or any other good fabrics that you have in your stash, just cut into it. Don’t leave it sitting on the shelf.
Nicole: Just do it
Ada: Just stab me in the heart, why don’t you?
Aims: But honestly, just do it. Just love it. Make it into something that you’re going to wear again and again and you’ll get so much more enjoyment out of actually like being able to reach for it on a daily basis rather than it sitting on your shelf. Yeah. So use them and love them.
Nicole: I know…
Ada: Is there any? Like, follow up question, though you’re like, use the fabric and I’m like, Okay, I’m gonna use the fabric, I’m going to take care and go slow..-er not slowly, slow-er, as I make something. How, like, would you recommend folks treat these fabrics with care obviously, like if they’re being hand printed, and a lot of labor and love has gone into the design and creation of them, like should we not be throwing them into the dryer?
Aims: No, throw them in the dryer, throw them in the washing machine. So when I was down in Fukuoka, I got to see the printing process from start to finish. And the fabrics are actually steamed, and they’re washed multiple times, and they’re put through the wringer more than you ever would at home. So you can actually just throw them in the washing machine. And I think you should be treating your fabrics, the way you will treat clothes that you’re going to wear anyway. Yes, you should look after them. So you can get a lot of wear out of them. But if that means you’re not going to wear it, then what’s the point? So treat your fabrics how you treat your clothes, I think. Go for it. Do it.
Nicole: I’ll try it’s so easy to just like keep the precious precious. But then you’re saying it could be more precious on your body instead.
Aims: You know that feeling when you pick something out of your wardrobe and you’ve got a smile on your face? Because you know what the time and effort went into it. You actually get to wear the outfit and people go, Oh my god, that’s amazing. And you get to say, Oh, I made it.
Nicole: We love that. We love that. So what does the future hold for Indy Bindy Fabrics.
Aims: It holds more incredible designers. I’ve got some conversations going on behind the scenes with other designers that I’m excited to introduce. And it’s hold a focus on growing the Indy Bindy Sewciety into the most incredible sewing community. That’s kind of what I’d like to really look at going forward.
Ada: Thank you so much for sharing your story. Aims. I have certainly learned a lot and I will probably message you before I do actually cut into that fabric. For our listeners who aren’t already following you, where can they find you?
Aims: You can find me and all the fabrics on my website, which is indybindy.com.au. So it’s I N D Y B I N D Y.com.au And then on my social media so Instagram, Facebook, you can find me at Indy bindy fabrics.
Nicole: Thank you so much for coming on to the show today. Aims, I know that I am looking forward to seeing what Indy Bindy has in store for the future and right now, go to the website right now. Links to Aims’ social media and shop will be in the show notes, so don’t forget to check it out.
Aims: Thank you so much.
Ada: Thank you so much for joining us on this week’s episode of the Asian Sewist Collective podcast. If you like our show, please consider supporting us on Ko-Fi by becoming a one time or monthly supporter or by buying our stickers and selling labels. That’s right, we have merch now, your financial support helps us with overhead expenses and will allow us to give back to our all volunteer team who work so hard to provide you with new content each week. The link to our Ko-Fi page is ko-fi.com/asiansewistcollective, and you can find the link in our show notes on our website and on our Instagram account. Check us out on Instagram at Asian Sewist Collective That’s one word Asian Sewist Collective. And you can also help us out by spreading the word and telling your friends. We would also appreciate it if you could rate review and subscribe to this podcast on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Pocket Casts or wherever you get your podcasts.
Nicole: All of the links and resources mentioned in today’s episode will be in the show notes on our website. That’s Asian Sewist Collective.com And we’d love to hear from you. Email us with your questions, comments or even voice messages if you want to be featured on future episodes at firstname.lastname@example.org This episode was brought to you by your co-hosts Ada Chen and Nicole Angeline. This episode was researched by Esther Lee, produced by Esther Lee, and edited by Clarissa Villando and Henry Wong. Thank you so much to the other members of our collective for making this week’s episode a reality. This is the Asian Sewist Collective podcast and we’ll see you next week.