On the 29th of March I gave my very first TED talk at TEDxRotterdam, about rethinking the way we colour our clothes.


TEDxRotterdam 2019 was centered around the theme "Raising the Bar". It is in people’s nature to do better and to be better than before. If you look at a city as vibrant and colourful as Rotterdam, raising the bar is something we try to incorporate in our day to day actions.

Being better, trying to improve, not to impress someone else, but an internal challenge to make you look within. Within yourself, your company, community and city and always try to elevate your thought and ideas.

This TEDxRotterdam featured speakers that have risen to the occasion and have shown above and beyond, that raising their bar, is a foundation for the most wonderful ideas worth spreading.



I was asked to participate as a speaker by one of the curators. She was fascinated by Kukka's biodesign project Living Colour she saw at Dutch Design Week and she liked me to tell my story. If she had asked 3 years ago, I would've said no straight away because back then, speaking in public, was one of my biggest nightmares. The first time I spoke in public as a professional in 2017, I almost didn't sleep for 2 weeks straight and I was about to cry just before I had to give the presentation. So back then it was very stressful to say the least.

But after this first presentation went relatively well, I gained some confidence. The reactions from the audience were great and I also noticed that I really liked talking about biodesign and my projects. And so I got asked to give a talk again... and again... and in January of this year I even went to Neonyt Berlin to talk about waterconscious fashion at Embassy Lab and in February I took part in a panel discussion at Avantex Paris about biotech textiles.

But giving a TED talk really felt like I had to step up my game. I mean, I watched a lot of inspiring TED talks before and most of the speakers looked like they were born to stand in front of a crowd and have people hanging on their lips. I however, WAS NOT! But then I thought perhaps I can become one of those people. I hardly ever run from a challenge, and of course it is quite flattering to be asked to share your expertise and inspire people.

So I took on the challenge. And together with the curator I decided to do it a little different and give a duo talk. Since the Living Colour project started from a collaboration with Ilfa. We worked with a coach on structuring our talk, intonation and posture and after weeks of prepping, we finally gave our talk.

Me (left) with our coach Mariana (middle) and Ilfa (right)


Clothes contain small amounts of leftover chemicals that come from pesticides for growing cotton for example but also from dyeing. Our skin, our largest organ, absorbs these chemicals on a daily basis. Of course these amounts are tested as safe, but we all have heard about clothing recalls because the amount of toxic chemicals in them is too high. On top of that these chemicals cause the fashion industry to be one of the most polluting industries in the world; 20% of all freshwater pollution comes from textile dyeing and finishing. So is there an alternative to the way we dye clothes? Watch the TED talk and find out.

No comments

Post a Comment