Another preview of the unedited interviews for my magazine. This was completed via e-mail and hasn't been touched. An exclusive if you like!!!
Nieves Ruiz Ramos, better known as Snow, is the face behind the newest and most exciting ethical brand to hit the floors in Oxford Circus Topshop. We get an exclusive interview with the designer whose collection has literally snoballed into the public eye since last year.
So Snow, where are you from?
I was born in a city from the north of Spain called Santander
Have you always wanted to be a designer?
When I was very young I wanted to be a singer but around the age of 12/13 I started to think in becoming a designer....and that is what I did....I finished school at the age of 18 and when to France to do a degree in Fashion design and at the age of 20 I was already working on the industry.
So how did you get into the ethical world?
After more than 10 years experience as a designer for mayor high street brands I was tired and unhappy with the direction that the fashion industry was taking....it was all about fast fashion/cheap prices and I didn't want to be part of it...too superficial....to inhuman....far too fast!!!!, so I decided to stop my job as a designer in London to set up my own brand, combining my skills in the fashion industry with an ethical philosophy.
When did you start the company bibico, and why?
I finished my job in London in September 2007 and it took me 6 months to set it up and source for fair trade suppliers. In May 2008 we registered the company and since then it has been nonstop....and I feel so into it that it looks I have been doing it for years.....
How did you come up with the name bibico?
bibico is the fusion between bibi-my nick name when I was little and co-the company.....and by coincidence bibi means wife/lady in Hindi and co the company....so is a name that has 2 very strong meanings behind it.
What has been your proudest moment so far?
The proudest moment so far it was 2 months ago one of my costumers wrote me an email to say how happy she was with her new top and that the bibico top was her favourite top in the waredrobe...it is so good that some people see the work behind all this project.....I was overwhelmed....and I will never forget.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
the pattern cutting & the sourcing of fabrics and trims is the most difficult bit...I spend hours in the markets in Mumbai & Kathmandu trying to find something suitable for our collections...between the heat, the dirt and all the ethnical things that you get on the local market is difficult to spot something appropriate for the Western market...it is hard but a great challenge. Same with the pattern cutting, I work with ladies that wear only shares so getting into a V-neck or a strapless top is very unfamiliar and sometimes they feel ashamed as in their beliefs is un appropriated for a woman to dress like that.
How were you discovered by Topshop?
I called them and told them about my story and about my background. I booked a day to show them the collection and they like it....so after it everything when quite smoothly...Topshop is one of the biggest retailers in the UK and they are very interested in supporting Fairtrade and bibico got their eye as we offer a fashionable product that is competitive with the high street.
What is Bibico about, what are its values and key messages?
bibico is about fair trade garments that are fashionable & that they don't cost the earth...I want to prove to everyone that you can wear fair trade without compromising you style, your pocket and the earth....bibico is the fusion between high street styles & fair trade ethics.
How do you get your inspiration for your collection?
my inspirations come from everywhere...for me is not about trends, is about beautiful garments that you can wear now and in 10 years time......so I just look for beauty, practicality and easy shapes and cuts that my ladies can make.....all these things come to my head when I design...as now I don't have all the facilities that I used to have when I used to work for the big guys....and working with underprivileged women is a challenge but a very rewarding one.
How many people work for your company?
It is only me in this part of the world and 300 women in India. I get quite a lot of help from my partner on the financial aspect of the business and the paper work......If things keep on growing I will be looking to employ someone very soon.....
What is your opinion on ethical fashion today?
Ethical fashion is on trend now but I still think that most of the brands out there are very expensive....I want to show to people that you can wear fair trade without compromising your style, your pocket and the earth...ethical fashion should me more approachable and not something for the elite....hopefully between all the ethical brands out there we put ethical fashion in every wardrobe in England.
How has the credit crunch affected you?
As this is my 1st year of trading I don't have figures to compare with...I know the whole retail market is slower and that people are more picky, but for me is all good...As a though Spanish girl I started on the most difficult year in history but I am very happy with what I have achieved...so after the “so called crisis” it will be a walk on the park....he...he
What is the future for Bibico?
The future for bibico is developing an organic range and do some exclusive recycle pieces.....let's see!!!...Also I would love to give back to the communities I work with...now with the sales we give them 20% of the selling price but in the future I would like to invest in their communities and sponsor their communities using bibico’s profits....for the early future I just want to work hard and give work to my ladies in India/Nepal...and the more work we both have the better as this will mean that more women will come out of poverty.
Anything else you want to add, or to talk about then feel free...
I just want people to think in the story behind each garment and how difficult is to put a top together.....there is so much to it.....from the fabric, to the pattern, to the cutting and stitching, to the trimming, labelling, marketing, selling...etc...etc....we have to bring love to our garments and really think what we are buying & why...it is better for all of us to buy less and think twice before it.
For more information visit www.bibico.co.uk