In need of some brighter sportswear to inspire a trip to The Edge? Want this sportswear to be sustainably made here in Yorkshire and to also fund women’s business education in India? We thought so. Bella Kinesis is a sustainable sportswear brand that through the Mann Deshi Foundation, helps to fund business training programs for women in rural India. We caught up with founders Roshni Assomull and Shaleena Chanrai to talk about the great work they’re doing and the great clothes they’re selling.
Why did you decide to start creating sportswear? Did you see a gap in the market?
We started Bella Kinesis because we felt that a lot of the existing sportswear on the market was designed by fit people, for fit people. At school we hated sport and only took up exercise again in our twenties, after suffering from differing weight issues. We felt intimidated by the activewear available. We decided we wanted to create a friendlier, more approachable fitness brand with which women could identify more easily.
Being new entrepreneurs yourselves, how important was it that you were funding business education for women in India?
Having started a business ourselves, we understand how difficult it can be to take that initial step. We couldn’t have done it without the support of a startup loan and the mentors we’ve had along the way. We’re so fortunate to be living in a country where this kind of help and information is readily available for the public. What we liked most about the work that Mann Deshi does, was the impact it had on whole communities. We believe that that giving women a business education will not only provide them with financial independence but also self-confidence and will earn them the respect of men around them. We hope that projects like this have a domino effect; these courageous women can inspire other women resulting in a real change in attitudes towards the role of women in Indian society on a grander scale.
Why is sustainability in fashion an important issue for you both?
Since entering the garment industry, we’ve started to better understand the manufacturing process and the many issues that can often accompany it. It takes us months to design, test, source materials and create our garments. Quality is the most important factor. Each piece should last at least two years of wear and tear. We’re not a high street brand and we don’t want to compete with their turnaround times and constant need for newness. Fast fashion creates both ethical and environmental concerns-it’s often the result of cheap labour, whilst also increasing pollution and waste. We’re now trying to do our best to change our own consumer choices and become advocates for change within the garment industry. We want to be as transparent as possible with our manufacturing processes so people can really see how and where their clothes are made.
How was working with artist Zaina Al Hizami on your recent collaboration?
We met Zaina a few years ago at a party and immediately fell in love with her colourful, geometric artwork. After a few drinks, Shaleena and I came up with the idea to print her artwork onto Lycra and create a limited edition Bella Kinesis collection. She loved the idea too and we quickly became friends. Many of our meetings just turned into catchups and gossip sessions so it was more fun than work. We found that working with other creatives really helped us expand our ideas and gave us the opportunity to become bolder with our design choices. It was amazing to collaborate with such a talented female artist. Her work has inspired us to be more courageous and put more of our personality into our garments.
Have you each got a favourite piece from your current range?
We love our new Zaina x Bella tank. We remodelled our classic workout tank to feature printed sides with Zaina’s artwork and added a mesh panel at the back. It looks really awesome if you wear the matching Zaina x Bella bra underneath as you can see the gold lurex elastic through the mesh. It’s been one of our bestsellers!
Pyramid Bra- £38
Zaina x Bella tank- £36
Cover Image: http://healthylivinglondon.com