I absolutely adore Adija & Aisha and feel so grateful to be connected and have collaborated with them. I am so excited to share as their total ethos is admirable and inspiring plus a super nice back story leaving us with a little positivity to start 2022. Enjoy.
Who are the beautiful faces behind Hutan Hujan? & What are your stories?
We are sisters, Adija and Aisha. We’ve always been very close growing up, we wanted to have something we do together and that’s how we came up with the idea to do a business that can keep us close even when we live apart: after Singapore, Adija returned to live in Bali, while Aisha lives in New Zealand.
What is Hutan Hujan / brand identity?
We first started Hutan Hujan to create products that we were hoping will help people reduce their dependencies on items made of single-use plastics. We launched our business just as Bali introduced a regulation that bans single-use plastic bags, straws, and takeaway containers at the end of 2018.
It then expanded into creating products that are made of upcycled textiles. We want to stick with the idea that the products we sell are helping to reduce waste entering landfill or even worse our soil and water systems.
What is interesting—looking back—because we used to live in Japan when we were younger, one of the things that stuck with us the most was how diligent the Japanese people were in managing their household waste. They have specific days on which certain things can be “disposed”. Even at our school there, we were taught how to sort rubbish, how to wash and fold milk cartons etc. So we suppose, we’ve subconsciously been familiarised with the idea of waste management and alternative ways to deal with them.
How did you come up with the idea of using up-cycled textiles? What was the process of creating reusable and circular waste products?
At the beginning of the pandemic we were thinking of ways we could keep contributing to the local economy in Bali when almost everything on the island had to stop operating.
Being based in Bali, we realised the fast turnover of hotels’ bed linens and towels, as well as their impact on the local waste system. These items often are still in good condition, having to be “thrown away” because of a small tear or a minor stain. So we thought we asked to see if any hotels around where we grew up would sell the bed linens and towels they no longer use to us.
Once we have the textiles sorted, we kept a similar process as we did before: natural dyeing at the same workshop, production with the same tailor and embroidery house, etc. we only added the high temperature wash at the start of each batch.
Right now, we’re at the stage where we get to brainstorm on what other products we can come up with next, the possibilities are endless and it’s pretty exciting!
What were the challenges / successes of making sustainability a key element of your business?
One of the challenges we face—because we use a natural dye for all of our textiles—is the varied result of the colour on certain materials. For example, some colours appear darker for the upcycled towels, so there was a lot of trial and error at the beginning of each new batch of products. Even when we’ve figured out which colour works best for the relevant materials, the result will be different so we tell our customers exactly that. It is important for us that we use natural dye, because chemical colouration has bad impacts on the soil and water system of the island.
The use of bed linen and towels that are no longer in use also posed another challenge for us, so we’re always on the lookout for more “unwanted'' materials from hotels and resorts around Bali.
We do feel that the challenges really made this business model more exciting. Having restrictions in this case have pushed us to think about more creative solutions to the natural dyeing process and where we source the textile materials from as alternative ways of using non-virgin materials, it is also thrilling to come up with what other products can be made using upcycled textiles.
What sets each of your souls on fire?
Adija: I love being at home, in my own space. I also enjoy being out in nature, swimming at the beach or doing short treks, I like being sun kissed. I feel alive when I'm being productive, getting things done, checking things off the list.
Aisha: I am always grateful for the littlest things. Flipping through art & design books, solo yoga sessions, tending to indoor plants. Quick dips in the ocean, cold sweet mango fruit, river swims. A plate of nasi kapau. Grilled crab / crayfish with garlic butter. Being with loved ones.