HOW DID PROJECT COAL FIRST GET ESTABLISHED?
The first products I sold were bundle-dyed silk scarves with extracts from logwood, turmeric, and tea. Eventually I started getting local orders and there were even some stockists abroad who were keen to have my products in their stores.
I was also approached by friends from Itchy Fingers, who were organising creative workshops with local artisans, to conduct natural dyeing workshops.
Once I realised Project Coal was starting to get traction, I went ahead to register my business!
HOW HAS PROJECT COAL EVOLVED OVER THE LAST EIGHT YEARS?
Project Coal started as a personal platform to share my dyeing explorations. At the start, it was purely a craft that I enjoyed doing at home once I began dyeing scarves for close friends, designing bags and creating products. Conducting workshops was also a way for me share the craft. I’ve also started weaving and making art with natural pigments as well.
In the beginning, I was doing everything on my own, from dyeing to taking photos, and planning campaigns, but since meeting my husband in 2016, he has been the other (silent) half and creative partner of Project Coal. He takes all of the photos and also helps me with dyeing. So I have an extra hand now, which is great.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT THINGS PROJECT COAL OFFERS TODAY?
One of the main services we provide at the moment is the re-dyeing of wearables. Clothes that may have been stained, turned yellow or chucked in your cupboard for a while… instead of throwing them away, we dye them to give them a new life.
THESE DAYS WE HEAR A LOT ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY AND GREENWASHING IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY. HOW HAS PROJECT COAL PLAYED A ROLE IN EDUCATING CONSUMERS HERE OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS?
Well, when I first started, natural dyeing was quite foreign to the general public, as compared to places like Europe or even other parts of Southeast Asia where natural resources are more abundant and natural dyeing is commonly known as an age-old craft.
Through workshops and meeting people who are interested in what we do, I get to share what natural dyeing is about and the environmental benefits that come hand in hand with that, such as toxic degradation from chemical dyes. It’s true that there are many brands out there who are (simply) riding on the sustainability movement and I feel it’s up to consumers to do their own research.
WHAT KIND OF PROJECTS DO YOU ENJOY WORKING ON THE MOST?
Collaborations and adorning spaces are my favourite – I enjoy the process of working on projects with like-minded individuals who are open to just creating! I believe that artistic freedom and creating honest works are the basis of any good project.
ANY PAST PROJECTS THAT YOU ARE PARTICULARLY PROUD OF?
I would say my showcase at Alter Native is something that I am proud of. Working with Desmond and Charice to create a unique dining experience at his home, combining both craft and food. It was really inspiring and a lot of fun. I love how the concept was executed beautifully and the experience of the diner was like no other.