For Fashion Revolution Day 2015 I’d like to talk a little bit about the amazing Jacobs Well.
Just over 10 years ago I first went to visit a little production unit in Bangalore called Jacobs Well, I’d been working with them for my first (ethical) fashion label Tam&Rob, and decided due to a few difficulties it would make sense to go out there and work with them directly.
From the moment I stepped through the door I was hooked… I met Lydia – a force to be reckoned with, and still is – at the time she was part of the production team, now she owns part of the company! Lydia and I have grown to be good friends over the years we have worked together, we have learned from each other, laughed together and I have quite often cried on her (I have never seen her cry, she is far too cool for that!)
Through the years I have spent time helping to train the girls at JW. I have offered my knowledge and expertise to help them grow from a little mad cap production unit in small room above an office, to a fully functional, phenomenal and highly professional CMT unit. In return I have been shown respect as a valued customer, have been supported through my crazy ideas and impossible sampling missions. I have been rewarded with the highest quality production and the opportunity to work with people I not only know personally but I can also call friends.
A few years ago I employed someone called Ammu, through Jacobs well. Brenda said to me they had a girl cleaning for them, she was really good and wanted to learn but they didn’t have money for her salary. I took her on to do all my finishings and accessory production. Ammu too has grown to be a friend, an amazingly strong and dedicated woman, she has worked her way up in JW through sheer determination. I am so glad I was able to give her the start she needed and am so proud of how successful she has become.
Sumitra and I had a run in early on, she made a very expensive mistake on some fabric she was cutting and I was furious (I didn’t have any more fabric!). However as time went on, I noticed how brilliant she was at tailoring, I put her in charge of stitching my ready to wear wedding dresses and she did not disappoint. She is an asset to JW and quite frankly I wouldn’t have had a collection without her. We are now working on a new bridal business that will be made at JW – watch this space for more information!
I have asked my friends at Jacobs Well to write a little about working with Tammam over the years;
Lucy was our very first client for fashion clothes. Until she contacted us Jacobs Well was producing only small items like bags and baby clothes, so it is impossible to overestimate the impact that Lucy has had on our business.
It is fair to say that there were quite a few mistakes in very first pieces we made for Lucy and her friend ten years ago. For one design, she asked us to stitch a pair of trousers and then dye the finished item. Happily we sent the constructed trousers for dyeing only to see the whole thing returned with the bright white stitches glowing out from the coloured fabric: not knowing any better, we had used polyester thread which had not taken the dye. Oops.
Lucy’s patience and ability to adapt was our saving grace in those early days, and we are so happy that she saw our potential and stuck with us. We have learned so much from her over the years. Most of all, she had enough faith in us and gave us such good training that our small team of tailors was eventually able to produce the ultimate couture items: wedding dresses. For this, we had to learn special ways of making seams, how to make a bodice with boning (which was completely new to us), the proper ways to fit the dress, how on earth to cut such a long garment properly: it was a huge achievement for us and all down to Lucy’s training. In addition to her commitment in working with an ethical production unit, Lucy was also a pioneer in using sustainable fabrics and taught us about materials including peace silk, where the moth is able to fly free from the cocoon.
Both Ammu and Sumitra have grown in confidence and ability thanks to their work for House of Tammam, and I am also very grateful for the training she has given me, and for the confidence she has in me. We are honoured to count Lucy as our first ‘real’ client and as a friend of Jacobs Well, and it is our pleasure on Fashion Revolution Day to say we made your Tammam clothes!
I feel so privileged. I know who made my clothes, and my customers do too. To me that is worth so much. Here’s to another decade working with people I know and love at Jacobs Well.
Yours in Fair Trade