Katy’s Kontrast Journal -1
I still remembered when I first met Kine in one of my elective courses in the last semester: International Political Economy — Professions and Governance. It was a typical cloudy day in March, and I came in late for the class at 8, so I had to sit in the last row on the side. Because there were not many people anyway, we started talking about doing the group work together at the end of the lecture.
Eventually, we were the only two out of three, who began to meet up for the poster session and decided to present our idea, so that we can get feedback for our final exam concerning issue control of sustainability topics in the international political economy.
Initially, the conversation revolved around the issue of plastics, around how the narratives have emerged and changed, and around who are the main issue professionals and organizations shaping the topics in the world. Later on, we shifted the focus onto the issue of circular economy in the EU and began to dig into who translates the issue of circular economy from waste management into innovative business models to sustain the economic prosperity of the EU.
After a few brainstorming discussions, our conversation turned into chit-chats about what we were doing during our spare time: For me, it was the Too Good To Go company visit for Oikos CPH, and for her, it’s a project that she’s been working on called Kontrast.
From what I could recall in my journal, my first impression about Kontrast is that it’s a project promoting the concept of slow fashion while combining a business model using e-commerce to improve the livelihood of the Nepalese friends Kine met during her trip to Nepal a few years ago.
Kine, as the designer of clothes listing on Kontrast, has a bachelor degree not only in international business and politics but also in textile design and possesses a unique, aesthetic value when it comes to sustainability. Not until the moment I asked my mom about hemp, the material that Kontrast has been sourcing from China, did I realize that it is such an expensive but highly durable material, which totally lives up to the functionalism principle that she’s been seeking to apply in her collections.
When I was reading the book recommended by Kine called Aesthetic Sustainability: Product Design and Sustainable Usage by Kristine H. Harper, it occurs to me that I didn’t even think about the sustainable values behind the clothes that I bought — not in terms of the true costs behind price tags (even though it’s important), but as in what are the expressional durability of those products? In other words, how can the designers fulfill the natural aesthetic preferences of human beings, so that products can actually be passed on from one generation to another and on and on and on…
As we’ve been talking a lot in class about how to foster sustainable development in emerging markets and developing countries through entrepreneurship, her project demonstrates such a case in reality and adds another dimension that I’ve never really considered before.
Although I still don’t know well enough about how developmental impacts are created through Kontrast (which as some point I think I would), what makes me feel ashamed is that I’m the one who studies development but not the one who actually does things as such in person. I guess that’s why I’m fascinated by her courage in taking actions and putting things in practice, since learning is only meaningful when you can actually link it back in real life.
By then, my knowledge about Nepal stayed only on the very very basic level from which you can learn in Wikipedia and from the personal stories of a friend whom I met in Manila this January. In that conversation with Kine, I can see her eyes sparkled like diamonds while talking about her passion for this project. (I think that entrepreneurial blood flowing in her vein somewhat matters.) A funny thing is that I still can’t remember what I was thinking when I just spontaneously proposed the idea of working for her project in the next semester during my free time. I guess it makes total sense now because I suddenly don’t have a part-time job and I do enjoy overloading myself a bit to keep myself not slacking. Writing once in a while could actually help me clear things out and reflect on what I actually want to do in my life. Plus, who doesn’t want to learn from such an inspiring person?
There’s so much shit going on in this world right now!
Said Kine, with her indignant face when we talked about the war going on in Yemen right now. Normally, people would just say: “yeah, but what can we do” meanwhile shrugging their shoulders after reading the news, but she tries to understand it. Perhaps also thinking, when we’ll be able to do something in the future, we should, just as she did for Nepal. After all, we are the privileged ones, and we’ve got our whole life ahead of us.
“You either love something very much or you hate it very much that you want to change it.”
From what I can see, she is a person who hates the shit existing in this world so much so that she wants to change it, which is somewhat an incredible force to motivate oneself as I would say. As the above is merely my observation for now, I’m sure there are more things that I don’t know and even more that I haven’t learned from her. I’ll try to document them as possible. Talk soon.