I was born in China. In 1993 I went to the USA for my MBA and then worked in high tech companies in the Bay area.
In 1999 our first baby was born. Being a first time mother, I started to pay attention to the safety of everything I bought. During that time, organic milk was hard to find and expensive. I had to drive far away to a special store in order to buy it. These stores were usually located in rich residential areas. Sometimes, after driving for a long time, there was nothing left. With time, more and more organic food appeared on the market and my shopping list grew from only milk and eggs to apples, strawberries, carrots, broccoli etc. After organic food became more common, I began buying natural shampoo, detergent and other household items.
Then the next question was what to wear? By then, most children’s socks and pajamas were made of polyester, even their bedding. Sometimes when we visited my parents-in-law in Germany, I would bring back pure cotton mattress or other hard to find natural bedding for both of my kids. Germany always had more natural products at my disposal and I dreamed that one day the US would follow suit.
In 2010, both my husband and I were offered to teach in a huge university in my hometown. While we were living in China I became very stressed when it came to grocery shopping. Fortunately, my sister helped me and the locals gave me special tips on what to buy during which season and where to find high quality goods.
In my hometown there is a plant I knew about as a child whose natural fibres were used to make clothes. Ramie.
However, ramie fabric is rough and only used for bags or ropes since it is very strong. One day I met a lady in a local business conference who sold ramie socks, and claimed it to be anti bacterial. I was amazed.
It was then that I began my research about ramie. First, I traveled to deep mountains to understand how ramie plants grow. Then, I visited ramie research institutions and bast fibre research centers and laboratories. I was convinced that this was a fibre with lots of potential.
I began to wonder why ramie wasn’t more popular. I visited retired ramie engineers and ramie factories. A retired ramie engineer shed tears when he told me how much he believed that ramie could have overtaken cotton!
Needless to say, I was shaken up, but I still understood very little. I started to learn about different kinds of fibres, their development history, their qualities and their limits. I was very surprised to find out how unsustainable both cotton and viscose are.
After a while, I stopped my research. I understood why cotton and viscose won the market, why ramie and the other bast fibers remained unknown, what the agriculture of cotton and production of viscose could cause and how it could affect us and our world. I started to put my efforts towards educating ramie farmers and factories, working together with them all to improve the quality and sustainable production of ramie and, most importantly, creating awareness not only for the fibres but also for a sustainable lifestyle.
I started Anthyia in 2012. Many people constantly challenged me: what were you doing and why didn’t you focus on selling? My answer was: not ready. This will be my last stop in my career journey and I want to make something I real like: a quality fabric that is natural, comfortable, sustainable, beautiful and affordable! So many criterias took me almost 6 years. Today they are here and finally I am satisfied