We were blown away when we met Dali and Finn, two teenagers with big dreams to make a difference. They’ve created a street wear brand, Nalu, based on a get/give model - when you purchase a Nalu t-shirt they give a school uniform to a child that needs one. We sat down with the oldest of the two siblings, Dali to find out more…
What inspired you to start your label, Nalu?
Nalu began out of a spontaneous desire to keep our friends in school. In 2011 Finn and I spent time in schools in hot dusty central India while our parents volunteered as chiropractors. We formed some great friends then and each year we revisit the same place. At a certain point I turned 13 and I saw something that I did not like- a lot of my friends were missing. They were no longer at school because they could not afford a school uniform. The government stops paying for it at this age. My friends were working in brick factories, in construction, farming or were pregnant…all at age 13. Strangely enough, once the child is in school, they get free food, tuition and school books. But the uniform decides if a child stays on school or not; it is THE determining factor. Our bright friends wanted to stay in school but these families are so poor that they do not even have a spare apple for the whole family in one year let alone a school uniform! We could not believe that something so affordable for us could have such a measurable impact to keep our friends in school and break the poverty cycle.
But we did not want to start a charity. We did not want to return to the children we had been helping and tell them we could no longer provide uniforms because donations had dried up. So we started Nalu as a for profit business and for every t-shirt we sell, we give a school uniform to a child who needs one.
We love fashion, creativity, travel and our friends in India. So we combined our loves and started a social enterprise.
Do you design t shirts just for kids, or is there something for adults too?
Yes, we make for men, women and children. Its really cool, simple street wear that you can see on our website www.nalu.me
We also have trucker caps, sweaters and backpacks.
You’ve developed a great initiative for casual clothes day at schools. What does it involve?
Most schools in the western world wear a formal school uniform. But roughly 4 times per year they have what is called “casual clothes day”. Usually this day is when students wear their casual clothes and make a small donation to contribute towards a charity or a community project. We thought that when the privileged students slip out of their uniform for casual clothes day, they could purchase a Nalu t-shirt and in doing so, provide a new, correctly fitting school uniform to a child who needs one for an entire year. Kids helping kids, schools helping schools……for us this is a no brainer way to help a child less well off than us.
In five years time, what do you hope to be doing?
This is a long time question; we only have a plan up to 2 years from now but the principles remain unchangeable. We would like to keep as many children flowing into high school after age 12 as possible. We manage our giving component conservatively so we do not disappoint students over the long term - once we commit to a student, we like to know we can support that student continually through high school when they need a school uniform if they choose to continue their education.
Personally I would like study fashion and keep designing super cool street clothes for both urbanites and nature loving enthusiasts.
And finally, we would love it and be humbled to see our customers wearing our Nalu gear, knowing that they have helped keep a child in school.
And lastly Dali, which is your favourite Knotty towel?
I already have the Original in Charcoal so this would definitely come in as my favourite. All Knotty towels are natural to touch and are a perfect size for chillin’ on the beach or to use as a towel when we travel about in hot climates. Cool name Knotty because of all the little knots at the end of each towel…
You can show your support of these amazing teens by following their Instagram @nalu.me and Facebook page Nalu.me.