MIB Spirit’s weekly marketplace in Dhanmondi continues to grow
Founded on the two core principles of ‘ethical design’ and ‘sustainable business’ MIB Spirit has seen incremental and then exponential growth of its small marketplace at the organization’s own pristine premise in Dhanmondi. The weekly market hosts locally produced items that conform to its vision. Consisting mainly of boutique vendors, a variety of items are sold in small stalls every week at the market. Types of products include organic food, hand crafts and art.
“We started with food first. But then we started focusing on crafts,” said Foysal Islam, Design and Media Coordinator at MIB Spirit Ltd. “The hand craft products sold here are from vendors from Rangpur and Khulna. A lot of them are jute based. They send it to Dhaka for selling here,” he said.
Titled Weekend Spirit, the market opens at 9am and continues until 8pm every Friday. “These are not mass produced products and people are not quite ready to rely on the market for their daily needs. But we are mainly familiarizing our visitors with the products at this point,” Foysal told Weekend Tribune.
The market is designed to be in harmony with the daylong activities of the local people. There are places for sitting and drinking tea and a live music session takes place in the evening.
To attain its vision MIB focuses on enabling sustainable designs. “Our craft retailers are against fast fashion,” Foysal said, referring to the disposable nature of contemporary clothing and crafts production. But MIB has to work with their vendors to help them produce more usable items, as most of the hand craft makers assume that their products will function as novelty or souvenir items. Consequently, the products often are not made with the intention of actually replacing their mass produced counterparts.
“Through working with us our retailers are now trying to urbanize their products. We help the retailers, particularly those outside of Dhaka, to make more practical designs,” Foysal said.
Started in August this year, the marketplace now features a number of different vendors like Organic Online, Neo Farmers, Dhakaiya, Amar Bangladesh and more. Currently the event gets over 500 visitors on average.
Even though MIB doesn’t have complete control on how their partner vendors develop their products, it gets to implement its vision more fully in its own products. “We wanted to have mobility in our design. So, we started by designing a bag,” said Foysal. Made completely in Bangladesh and specifically designed to fit the local users and their environment, the MIB bags are made of very comfortable and sturdy fabric. The materials used are upcycle denim from the country’s huge garments industry.
Founded by Khaled Mahmud four years ago with a number of like-minded individuals, the company began with the aim of making the ‘Bangladesh’ brand acceptable. “‘Made in Bangladesh’ was a bad word when we started. But that is now changing,” Foysal said. With its visitors increasing consistently, MIB hopes to grow further but with a sharp focus on retaining its core principles.