Sustainable Living with Joan & Beng, founders of Xiapism
We had the pleasure of having an honest exchange with Joan Wong and Beng Lim, the founders of the sustainable fashion brand Xiapism which focuses on the natural mangrove dye.
Their beautiful encounter with mangrove natural dye and the process behind their products is a beautiful demonstration of how creativity with impact can bloom from eco-friendly procurement and working with eco-friendly materials.
Their story goes beyond retail and design, but a purpose to bring us closer in understanding our local, natural environment and how we should care for it.
A screenshot from The Green Factor Unplugged interview.
The Start of A Beautiful Journey
With a background in commercial and graphic design, Joan has always been fascinated by natural dyes.
Having worked with indigo dye, Joan soon realized the natural source of indigo color is not of native Malaysian plant and wanted to venture with a Malaysian-based plant instead.
The search gave birth to Xiapism which started right about before Covid hit.
Joan and Beng discovered about mangrove natural dye by chance.
They then discovered a small fisherman village in Pontian close to home to learn more about them.
Fishermen in the past uses the technique of mangrove natural dye to fix their jute fishing net to make them last longer before nylon fishing net was introduced and so the technique has since been forgotten.
The duo learnt the technique from the fishermen and the beautiful journey of creating sustainable products from mangrove dye began.
From compartmental bags, Furoshiki handbags, canvas book covers to clothing, Xiapism is the first in the world to design and promote sustainable products using mangrove dye.
Source: @xiapism Instagram
The Forest That Protects & Provide
Joan and Beng realized the importance and impact of the mangrove forest for our coastlines.
Our mangrove forest is our silent guardian angel, protecting us from erosion and abrasion from storm surges, currents and waves apart from providing homes for wildlife.
A systematic forest management helps to preserve our mangrove forest from further deteriorating.
Over-development has been a growing threat to the destruction of mangrove forest. The duo is driven to build awareness on this issues so actions can be made to preserve our local environment and how we can all adjust our lifestyle to reach harmony with nature.
The Bark That Sparks Colours
The colours and the pigments for the natural dye are at the bark of the mangrove tree.
Joan and Beng work with charcoal factories which have license from authorities to fell only matured mangrove trees.
Not all parts are being used by the factories and therefore the duo comes in to repurpose the discarded parts to prevent wastage as well as to help preserve the river.
From design, choosing the material, sustainability functionality, aesthetic appeal - each step is delicately planned through to produce sustainable products from the mangrove dye.
The duo pays close attention to how each product will be at the end of its lifespan with the purpose of ensuring them to become sustainable and completely biodegradable in the near future.
They only use unbleached fabrics to avoid chemicals.
Of all colours, white fabrics is one of the most favourite colours by everyone while not realizing that white fabrics are made by including in many chemicals in the production process.
Joan and Beng’s tedious process and careful selection of materials down to the end usage of the product is a display of eco-friendly materials and procurement which addresses waste management and natural processes which is less harm for the people and planet.
Furoshiki - Joy In A Square Cloth
One of many products produced by the duo is the Furoshiki wrapping cloth.
It’s versatility of not only to substitute plastic bags, it can be used for wrapping packed meals, books, act as a shopping bag, or as a scarf to name a few.
The duo is hopeful for people to be able to find alternative ways of doing things and transition towards fitting in sustainable products in their lifestyle in order to give a little bit back to the environment.