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NetChat Sessions☕️ Sarina Saddiq

NetChat Sessions are weekly sessions where we talk to inspiring women in and around the Bristol community. This series offers the opportunity to hear the voices of inspirational young women in the industry, from entrepreneurs to artists- who are killing it btw!

This weeks discussion is with Sarina Saddiq: we talk about the launch of her brand SmartSquid back in 2018, her experience as a female entrepreneur, and the shifts in consumer demand taking place in the fashion industry right now.

It was a great opportunity to be able to connect with Sarina and to listen to who inspires her, along with discovering her innovative ecological conversations that are expressed behind each of her clothing designs...

How did your brand ‘SmartSquid’ begin?

SmartSquid was officially launched in 2018, when I graduated from university, but it’d been simmering away in more of a hobby form for years - since I was 16! I have always loved fashion and nature and think what you wear can say a lot about your values/passions so I thought I'd combine the two to create SmartSquid - with the aim of sparking ecological conversations through my designs. I taught myself how to screenprint (thanks YouTube) and began searching for organic certified, FairWear approved t-shirts to print on. The first collection was named ‘Dung Ecology’ and showcased important creatures that contribute millions to the agricultural economy through degrading dung pats (there are over 49 species of dung beetles in the UK alone)! I make a real effort to try to convey why I’ve chosen the designs and love adding info postcards in with orders, there’s also a section of my website dedicated to explaining this too! My next collection focuses around British wildlife - something I’m sure lots of people have been appreciating during lockdowns!

Different things empower different women. Do you feel empowered by the work you do? (tell us about your day to day).

I think it’s really empowering to pursue things we are passionate about and I am very passionate about SmartSquid!Day to day can be quite varied and to be honest, it’s been quite a struggle with structure during the 2021 lockdown… I usually screen print in the mornings and work on admin/design tasks in the afternoons! Every task is completed whilst consuming many cups of tea!

What’s your favourite collection you have designed and the message behind it?

The Dung Ecology collection was a good one to start with as I became really fascinated with dung beetles at university but I think my favourite design at the moment is the Snow Leopard’s of Northern Pakistan t-shirt which is part of my last collection Back from the Brink, spotlighting conservation success stories from around the world! This design was inspired by the amazing work of Dr Shafqat Hussain, a conservationist who has implemented some ingenious conservation techniques, working with communities in the mountains of Pakistan to help the snow leopard population there. It’s quite a simple design and I do like a crisp white t-shirt!

Have your experiences as a female Entrepreneur been positive?

Overall it’s been good - I’ve just joined a Babes on Waves, an online community of women entrepreneurs, it’s been good to connect with people running their own business because it can sometimes get really lonely.

Your work seems to harmoniously intertwine with nature, do you think this is the way the fashion industry is heading too?

Thank you! I think it is the only way the fashion industry can continue in the long term to be honest, for the sake of our planet and its inhabitants… It’s such an exploitative industry in terms of people and resources, but from what i’ve seen, there is a shift in consumer demand taking place right now - people care a lot more about where their clothes are made/what they’re made from. People seem to be keen to invest in smaller brands too which is great!

What inspired you to create the ‘SmartSquid Nature Magazine’?

I really think everyone should get to experience nature and am passionate about engaging young minds with how great it is to be outside! I wanted the magazine to be accessible to children from all backgrounds so the content is planned in line with this. Thanks to wonderful contributors, the last issue includes a great fact file on Nobel Peace Prize winning social, environmental and political leader Wangarĩ Maathai, along with lots of activities, wildlife guides!

On a side note, I work part time in a really nice magazine shop and am a big fan of independent print, producing a magazine has been a pipe dream for some time! Most of the copies are donated to a couple of charities across the UK but it is available to purchase on my website, each order not only covers the cost of your copy, but also allows another copy to be printed and distributed through charity partnerships to a child who might not be able to afford it right now.

To find out more check our the SmartSquid website and follow on Instagram!

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