Epigram's Style Section continue their promotion series of student businesses by chatting with SmartSquid, an ecological inspired brand that focuses on creating unique garments to spark conversations. They hope 'to promote a slower attitude towards fashion as only second-hand clothes are painted'.
1. As owner of SmartSquid, tell us a little bit about yourself
I am Sarina, a third year biology student here in Bristol. I really enjoy living here; there is always so much to do! When I'm not studying or painting for SmartSquid, I really enjoy reading and illustrating for independent magazines, taking care of my numerous houseplants, and charity shopping.
2. What inspired you to start SmartSquid?
I've always enjoyed making things, and actually started SmartSquid while I was 16. Tie-dye was a pretty big thing at the time, I used to dye clothes and add pompoms. Since then, I've become increasingly interested in sustainable fashion. Fashion Revolution is a global movement that not only provides amazing learning resources with regards to responsible consumption, but also aims to bring people together to change the way that the fast fashion industry exploits people and nature.
Learning about the detrimental impact fast fashion has on our planet has sparked me to steer SmartSquid in a new direction. I now focus on painting second hand garments to spark ecological conversations.
You might have noticed that Smartsquid is going in a new direction! @nadiasaddiq has started painting so Smartsquid has become a sister venture 🤗 We now focus on creating wearable art to spark conversations. Using only second-hand and vintage denim as a base for our designs, we try to keep things as sustainable as possible. This is a dress I painted for myself - it's my dream aquarium (unfortunately you can't keep all of these species together in real life) 🐟🐠 I've started listing items on the website, each with a story of their own 💕
3. Tell us a bit about your brand's ethos 'sustainable fashion to spark conversation'
Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned. We throw away so many clothes, most of which take many years to degrade. I only use second-hand and vintage items as a base for my designs; why use new when there are so many great items that already exist? Vintage denim is usually a more interesting shape than modern clothing, and the quality is far superior too!
I think that what we wear can be used as a tool to showcase important topics. One of my favourite things to paint at the moment is the dung beetle. We have over 80 species of dung beetle in the UK (hard to believe I know); they are worth millions to the UK agricultural industry but are being seriously threatened by insecticides. I hope that when people wear items that I've painted, they are inspired to tell others about the creatures that are on them which will hopefully spark conversations about ecological topics.
An example above of Serena's work: inspiring others to create ecological designs in a workshop
Here’s a pic of my workshop in Bath, taken last month when my lovely friends who are all fantastic painters came over 🎨 When I’m at home I paint in the workshop (the roof leaks and it’s really cold but i love it anyway). When it’s term time I usually paint on my floor/dining room table - thankfully I have fantastic flatmates who don’t mind the continual painting mess. #meetthemaker day 6.
4. What sort of products do you sell?
The majority of my pieces are denim. I really enjoy painting jackets as they provide a great amount of space for designs. I've recently started painting non-denim items too! I'm working on a lovely second-hand black jersey pinafore at the moment. I'm planning to diversify into homeware textiles soon.
I’ve been thoroughly enjoying painting custom pieces recently! This secondhand pink hoodie features endemic flora of Spain 🇪🇸 for a lovely lady who lives there. There’s also a bumble bee 🐝 (numbers a declining atm) and a pigeon (they’re one of the most successful bird species!) 💚💚 Please send me a message if you have any painting ideas - I’d love to paint something for you 😊
5. Where can we purchase your products/ will you be appearing at any markets in Bristol in the near future?
I've got a website (click link here where I sell items I've already made and take custom orders. I've previously held stalls at the Bath Artisan, and the Sunday Upmarket on Brick Lane, London. At the moment I'm a bit out of the market loop! I hope to sell at some Bristol markets, and have some items in a local shop in the near future.
Featured Image: SmartSquid