The hairpin — it's essential for those hot days where all you want to do is pin your hair back. But there's more to the story of the hairpin, which originated thousands of years ago. I recently had the pleasure of catching up with S A Y A Designs founder, Victoria Jones to learn more about her passion to create unique hairpins inspired by the past with a mission to protect the future of our planet. Scroll down to read the interview.
Tell us a little about yourself and the story behind Saya Designs.
S A Y A Designs is a brand new start-up creating hairpins out of reclaimed roots. For each piece purchased, we'll plant up to10 endangered trees into microforests around Indonesia. I was inspired to start S A Y A because I wanted to establish a way to create a direct link between giving back to the planet I love while expressing my creativity. Through S A Y A, we are creating excitement around issues we believe in. We hope to invite others to learn more and get involved with environmental and wildlife conservation, and aim to do this by creating things people treasure that also have stories behind them. Circular business models always made so much sense to me and we have many ideas for the road ahead. What's exciting is that this is just the beginning!
What inspired you to create hairpins?
Hair sticks are the original hair tool, used for thousands of years across the world. A few years ago, my partner brought me back one from China and I haven't used anything else in my hair since. I loved that it was handmade and felt so elegant. Not before long, I was trying to make some new designs for myself. The pieces of offcuts from these roots matched as a perfect fit for something small, functional and unique. I thought about how it would be something you use everyday and what a great talking point it would be!
What elements of nature did you draw from for each hairpin design?
Each hairpin was inspired by the wild nature here in Indonesia. The exotic flora and fauna are some of the most biologically diverse in the world. I got inspiration from lines and shapes in the leaves and plants in the wild, and wanted to capture small accents of detail. As a result, the feel has become quite contemporary. The 'Tapioca' for example, is based on many similar leaves with the sides eaten out by insects. I found that so beautiful. I liked that I could link it all directly to nature.
THE PRODUCTION PROCESS
What material did you select for this collection and why?
Wood, if sourced in the correct way, is a beautiful, biodegradable natural resource. Wood also holds the natural oils in your hair, making it a much healthier alternative to plastic and elastic disposables. What's really special about SAYA’s hairpins is that they are made of reclaimed root wood left behind by loggers in Indonesia. Some have been in the ground for decades and simply abandoned. The roots we use are salvaged from tamarind, teak and rosewood plantations. The roots are not only strong, but also come with interesting grains. I felt this whole cycle was able to tell such an interesting story and raise awareness toward the issues around deforestation.
How did you source the material for this collection?
I initially wanted to search for consciously-sourced wood. Turns out it isn’t very simple, especially in Indonesia. You can buy several endangered species off most street stores or even wholesale orders. This really bothered me as suddenly the majority of exported products raised a red flag. So I asked as many questions as possible, trying to question every aspect of origin. People started suggesting I use government-certified wood, but I found out this was not really a sustainable or ethical option either.
My next aim was to find recycled or reclaimed wood. I drove door to door meeting local tradesman to see if they were doing anything out of the norm. That's when I came across Made and Wayan, who were salvaging root wood from plantations. They produce almost two tons of waste per month. When we said we would turn it into a functional item, they were delighted. By adding value to their business, we're also able to support the local economy.
Where are the hairpins created?
The hairpins are created in a workshop outside of Ubud in Bali. It is a locally owned Balinese business that has come from a long line of wood carvers. We share the same environmental ethos and love for nature and craft, which I think is a real advantage to our partnership.
What other steps are you taking to ensure each hairpin is consciously made?
At first, people kept trying to sell us wood that wasn’t from a source that was either sustainable or moral. We didn't stop until we were able to source materials that we felt good about. I also teamed up with an organization in the south of Bali that makes packaging from recycled paper. They have been running for almost 20 years and employ only local women. When I first went to visit them, I was blown away by their quality and professionalism. I've sought advice along the way from NGOs in Indonesia. They have been so helpful and happy to look over any paperwork and documentation I have been given. They assured me that I was approaching this in a good way and not creating any alternative negative impacts.
Tell us a little more about Saya Designs' mission to protecting the environment.
Every hairpin purchase will plant up to 10 endangered tree species back into the rainforests in Indonesia. We have partnered with a microgarden that will supply our seeds, as well as train farmers and communities to support their ecosystems. Our partner organization, GAIA is based in Central Java. They work on teaching local communities how to maintain their environment through support and training. They work closely together with large organizations such as FFI, and work with the Indonesian government to make sure forestry issues are heard.
Our mission is to plant more trees, help rebuild the rainforests, and connect those wanting to have a direct impact in doing so. The hairsticks are symbols of our passionate protests. There is more to come!
Why is sustainability important to you?
There is a word in Bali called 'Chanang,' which means a beautiful purpose. We actually named the statement piece in our collection 'The Chanang.' We need to do everything with a beautiful purpose, from how we work to how we live our lives. I would rather work to build something that has meaning and helps the world rather than have a well-paid job for the sake of a number on my bank statement. I love this planet and I will do my best to support it from a place of love. I feel that's the least of my human obligation.
Be sure to check out the complete S A Y A Designs collection for affordable, ethically-made hairpins that give back to nature.
Huge thanks to Victoria for partnering on today’s post! As always, all opinions are my own.