We had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Katy, founder and designer at RINDU, a slow-fashion jewelry and bag brand based in Bali, Indonesia. Before starting her creative journey, Katy worked in hospitality. On her honeymoon, she took her first trip to Indonesia. She fell completely in love with the culture and level of craftsmanship she witnessed around her.
Her love for jewelry design developed over time before it became Katy’s livelihood. Today, RINDU is sold worldwide.
Has eco-fashion or slow-fashion always been the goal for RINDU?
Actually, no. Before starting RINDU, I mainly focused on finding unique pieces to export to Belgium. Starting a slow jewelry line wasn’t something I had thought of yet. Those first few years before RINDU, I only came to Bali for short buying trips which didn’t allow me to fully experience and see the impact of us humans on the environment here.
It was really only when we decided to uproot our lives in Belgium and move to Indonesia, that I became more conscious about what we used in and around our house and the materials for RINDU. That’s when I started to think about which changes I could implement to make a difference.
For me, it took some time living here to get to know the local life and connect with the people. That’s when you start seeing things for what they are.
How has RINDU evolved into the brand it is today?
It all started with our honeymoon to Bali in 2000. This was my first time in Indonesia and we absolutely loved it. That trip made us come back many times after. Then in 2005, my husband Alex started his jewelry atelier in our hometown, Roeselare (Belgium) where we also had two restaurants.
In his atelier, Alex created unique golden and silver pieces. I noticed his customers were often accompanied by family or friends who weren’t necessarily looking for a silver or golden custom-made piece, but they might fall in love with the unique, and more affordable, statement pieces I brought with me from Bali. And so the seed to assemble my own Bali collection was planted.
Back then, I was still buying finished products in small batches. I wasn’t thinking too much about where materials were sourced. I wore many pieces myself when working in our restaurants. They were so unique, customers would notice and ask about them.
Because the demand was there, I started making solo trips to Bali with that purpose. It was during these trips, when I had more time, that I experienced the island in a completely different way. Instead of buying finished pieces, I found shops selling beads and all the things needed to create my own pieces. This was the first little step towards the ethical, slow-fashion brand RINDU is today.
RINDU necklace made from cow bones
Another big change came in 2013 when we moved to Bali permanently. Living in Europe means you don’t get the daily confrontation of neighbours dumping trash, so we’re less aware. There are also many government-supported initiatives that are great incentives for people to make a change.
Unfortunately, this is not the case in Indonesia where I feel it’s up to us, the people, to start making changes. And then, hopefully, when many people align for the same cause, they will get the attention and support of the government.
Coming from a place of awareness after truly having put down roots, my husband and I became more and more aware of the environment. We saw its beauty and meaningfulness to the world. This cascaded into slowly making more conscious business decisions for RINDU, like not using single-use plastic to wrap my jewels, or only choosing recycled and natural source materials.
Stay tuned to read the second part of our interview with this Eco-Warrior. We discuss working with recycled materials, awareness-raising, nurturing work relationships, personal life changes and more!