By Joy Saade
Whether it is sustainability, responsibility, consciousness or style, they have it all. With seven years of experience in the Design field, Nour is a designer working as a Design Director for The Farm Branding and Creative Lab in Beirut. We’ve reached out to find out more about the brand.
WHO THEY ARE
NK is a conscious fashion accessories brand, mainly made from repurposed plastic bags. Their team is made up of independent professionals that are each specialized in their fields, working together on a project basis, and providing the market with different products (bags, accessories and homeware) in an eco-friendly way.
“Our concept follows all principles of sustainable development. Doing what we do, we are reducing the number of discarded plastic bags that end up in landfill or nature. Since our operation started, NK has diverted more than 15,000 plastic bags from going to waste or harming fauna and flora – that is not taking into account the used plastic bags that are currently in our storage room waiting to be re-used. By constantly rethinking the whole lifecycle of our products and the materials we use, we fall into a circular, sustainable process.
Our mission is to make conscious wear look effortless, repurposing plastic bags creatively into new high-quality products, that are durable. Plastic bags normally take centuries to decompose, being made from polyethylene, derived from petrochemicals, and pollute while through their degrading state. A few statistics: only 9% of plastic bags ends up being recycled, we save around 12% in our households – these are the ones we decide to collect. Since they are not fully recyclable yet, one of the solutions is to repurpose them into new usable materials, and divert them from nature for as long as possible.
In terms of social impact – we work with local craftsmen and aim to keep doing so. We are supportive of our community in that sense and create job opportunities locally. Our water-resistant, light, and durable products made out of repurposed waste allows us to be a zero-waste brand and to adopt circular economy principles. Our decision to be environmentally conscious came from deeper rooted beliefs.”
As Nour explains it, “As kids my twin sister and I would spend a lot of time in the mountain, in nature, around trees, we would eat from the plants and trees that our grandpa had planted, we would play with sand and mud, climb trees, go on hikes, walk in rivers, and play with animals and insects. I think this shaped me in the person that I am today, and the reason why I respect nature. I did not decide to be a green entrepreneur: it just happened. There was an issue that I considered a problem, plastic bags, and I found a solution to divert it from ending up in nature and polluting it.”
THE ECO-FRIENDLY PROCESS AND PRODUCTS
“Our products are high quality, ethical, sustainable, light, water-resistant and durable. Every piece is unique: because of the heat pressing technique used, each sheet will always differ from the other.
The process begins by collecting unwanted plastic bags, that are washed, cut and sorted. The designer then assembles different bags together, making different color combinations and sends them to the technician that presses them into flat sheets. Once they are pressed, the designer cuts them into various simple shapes, adds all the additional material that will be used, and sends them to the artisan that sews them into the different products in our collection. We are supplied with used plastic bags from our loyal customers, family, friends, and coworkers. Our studio in Hamra has been used as a multifunctional room: to store the collected bags and to prepare all the pre-production (we clean, sort, cut and prepare the bags there). We also use it as a shop to display, sell our products and meet with potential customers, or people who are interested in the project. The room is very simple, and most of the items in it are either reused or from second-hand thrift shops, to remain in line with our eco-conscious ethos.
The pressing outsourcing is at walking distance from our workshop, however we do need a vehicle to go to our tailors who are still within a small radius. We minimize transportation and make use of the back & forth journey to our tailor, by making sure that whenever we go to send items, we pick others up. It is fair to say our environmental consciousness is present all throughout, in every little detail.”
All of that leads us to a line of products which range from bags, card holders, key ring accessories, household items and more, mindfully created for our customers, with a unique design and story. Not only that, our customers get to have their own customized items, if they have special bags, or colors in mind.
THEIR EXPERIENCE ON THE MARKET SO FAR
“Our brand is already known in the more eco-conscious parts of city, and we have very loyal customers that come back on occasions and whenever we have new products. The eco-conscious niche, came together after the garbage crisis in 2015 in Lebanon. There were lots of events that put us and other brands together (such as Beirut Design Week – Fashion Revolution by Green Peace, etc..).”
WHAT’S NEXT FOR NK
“More and more, we see countries implementing plastic bag bans. Even though Lebanon seems to be behind on anything environmental-friendly, we can’t but expect that to happen one day, as small steps are already being set in place and taken. This is also one of the reasons why, since the very beginning of our project, we mentioned that we aim to move to other “waste” materials in the next phase with an upgraded version of what we offer. Our products have been mostly essential items with simple designs; we are not necessarily following trends, and our products are mostly functional, but they are often presented as timeless designs. Our line of products is still fairly small, and thus we do plan to expand in many different ways. For us at NK it is just the beginning of the journey, and there is still a lot more to do, and dream about, but we are confident that the opportunities are endless. ”
Photography credits/Dominika Ozynska