Travels and textiles
"Start small, dream big. But just start."
Renyung, affectionately known as “Ren”, has always loved travelling. She met her friend, and co-founder, Yvonne Suner, on a sandy beach in Mexico in 2009, and it was this moment that set her on her future path.
The two continued to travel, gathering ideas everywhere they went, and decided they wanted to build a business that was inspired by their shared passion for travel. This sparked the idea of MATTER, a socially motivated brand focusing on affordable luxury, thoughtful design and history to create travel wear with stories to tell.
After participating in a 14-day cross-country tuk tuk fundraising trip across India, Ren decided it was time to turn the idea into reality. In 2014, she returned to India with confidence and began the groundwork for her new business.
“It convinced me that if there ever was any time to start, it’s now, and that little things can go a very long way.”
Inspiration through design
MATTER’s mission is to inspire consumers to value a product’s history and place of origin. The company aims to champion alternative production models for rural textile artisans.
Using the brand’s signature product, Ren promoted a social media campaign called ‘#pantstoseetheworldin’. The pants are made specifically for freedom of movement and occasion, emphasising comfort without sacrificing style—perfect for seeing the world in.
This product has now made it across the shores of over 30 countries, with more than 400 Facebook and Instagram posts from like-minded individuals.
Ren strongly believes in the idea of MATTER—the where and why something was made, and who made it. This has now become the brand’s philosophy.
However, her success didn’t come without its obstacles. “Production was definitely a challenge as it was a new learning curve, and the area of artisan textiles is not always a linear process,” says Ren.
In response, she has proactively built a model around those parameters rather than sticking to the traditional manufacturing and production cycles of the clothing industry.
“Everything we do is with the intention of transforming the relevance of the craft industry,”
Birds of a feather flock together
For Ren, Facebook has been instrumental in helping spread the word from one aligned customer to another, and currently drives approximately half of the business.
“We’re all about finding more quality, like-minded customers, and Facebook has helped us achieve that.”
“Start small, dream big. But just start,” Ren advises.
Learning from her failures and asking for advice and constructive criticism has been her saving grace. Ren also keeps a weekly journal helps her ensure her priorities are in check. She asks aspiring entrepreneurs to surround themselves with a balance of believers, cheerleaders, mentors and critics.
As for the future, Ren has plans to explore artisan communities in Thailand and Indonesia and is excited about working with new techniques. She is now focused on building a platform for artisan-designer collaborations, as she believes this is one of the foundations for sustainability in this sector.