Kim Robinson | Import Ants
Wedding favour boxes and bags from banana paper.
Import Ants all started when Kim Robinson and her desire for Fair Trade and all things paper discovered Elephant Dung Paper. Today we chat with Kim and learn more about what inspires this business woman, what is next for Import Ants and a bit more information on Elephant Dung Paper!
Paper Runways’, The Paper Trail were lucky enough to have Import Ants as one of their sponsors and the kids goodie bags each had a pack of Elephant Dung Paper included, plus some very lucky workshop attendees got the grown ups version with an Elephant Dung Paper journal. Thanks Kim!
What is the essence and vision of your business IMPORT ANTS
that you strive to bring to your customers?
My passion is for Fair Trade and my love of paper led me to discover Elephant Dung Paper and to start Import Ants. I want to give my customers a beautiful sustainable paper that combines recycling and fair trade and that gives back to the communities that make the paper. My vision is to have fair trade and eco-friendly products easily available in a wide variety of shops to allow people the choice to buy ethically. I believe that these choices make a difference and can build a better and more sustainable world for all of us.
What brings customers to purchase a product by IMPORT ANTS?
It’s often customers that are looking for a recycled paper for invitations that first attracts them to the paper, however as they discover the story behind the paper and how versatile it is they see its other benefits.
Tell us about the Elephant Dung Paper.
Eco Max Elephant Dung Paper is 100% recycled handmade from elephant dung and office waste paper manufactured in Sri Lanka by Maximus. Elephants are vegetarians, consuming a diet rich in plant fibre and an adult elephant eats 180kg of vegetation and produces 100kg of dung daily. This waste product is perfect for making paper using tradition handmade paper production methods.
In Sri Lanka, elephants and humans compete over scarce land resources causing casualties on both sides. To help solve this problem Import Ants and Maximus have created a sustainable industry that employs villagers to make the paper and the finished products. The production of the paper directly contributes to the villager’s income and a percentage of the profits go to the Millennium Elephant Foundation, affiliated with the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), which provides a sanctuary, medical services and care for working elephants. The Millennium Elephant Foundation is committed to the preservation of the endangered Sri Lankan elephant.
How much of your style flows into how you live, how you dress, what you read?
Being passionate about Fair Trade I always try to buy fair trade when I can. If not I look for sustainable/recycled or upcycled, so my clothing has lots of natural fibres and op-shop pieces and at home we recycle everything. I’m conscious of my impact on the planet, I’m not perfect and could always do more, I would love to have solar panels. I do grow all my own herbs and some vegetable and have a rain water tank for the garden. In my business I we reuse all the packaging and customers will often find Sri Lankan newspapers as packing in their boxes.
Most of my reading these days is on the computer, with a small business to run there is not as much time for reading as I would like but I love to read and on holidays or whenever I’m flying I devour books, mainly novels, it’s my escape time.
What enlivens your creativity day in, day out?
I live close to the city in Sydney and walk most days in the morning along the Cooks river, it gives time to think and being around nature inspires me. I love to see the changes in the seasons, the patterns and colours. Also being involved in the Fair Trade movement means that I meet people who are doing amazing things with small communities all over the world, their stories and the stories of these communities are truly inspiring.
What makes you happy?
I love to hear the feedback from my customers and to see the beautiful invitations they have created with our paper. There are so many amazing creative people in Australia that it inspires me. I also makes me so happy to visit our suppliers in Sri Lanka and to see the difference that Fair Trade industries make to their lives. To see the women smile, their children in school and know that the little bit I do really does make a difference.
Which blogs do you read daily? Your best blog find?
I read http://www.stateofgreen.com.au/blog/ and http://www.howdoweknowwhatsgood.com/
My best blog find has been Katie Hosmer’s Blog on My Modern Met
I really loved the 3D Paper Sculptures by Jill Sylvia made from financial data and transactions. It’s amazing.
What is your favourite paper product?
My daughter when she was little made paper dolls on sticks and would plant them in the garden. I still have two of them and treasure them as they remind of a child’s delight in simple things and of her unbounded creativity.
What is your relationship to paper?
I love the versatility of paper, the feel and texture of it. It can be strong and bold or soft and fragile. It draws you in and makes you want to touch and feel it. It never ceases to amaze and inspire me. But most of all I love it’s accessibility, that it can be used for high end art and design but equally enjoyed as a craft.
How different is working on paper to working with any other medium?
Before Import Ants I did visual merchandising and I was always limited by the shapes and feel of the products I was working with. With paper I can create whatever shape and feel I like. I love the freedom that it gives.
What freedoms does it allow and what are its limitations?
Each different type of paper has its limitations and that is the freedom of paper that with its variety and an open mind there are always solutions for most limitations. Working with the elephant dung paper has been as much about learning its limitations as it has been exploring mine. By collaborating with different artists they have overcome my limitations as an artist and have open up new avenues to explore with the paper.
Xmas Swing Tags on our Elephant Dung Paper
What is next for IMPORT ANTS?
I have found a wonderful new supplier in Sri Lanka that makes handmade paper from banana leaf and we have arriving soon wedding favour boxes and bags from the banana paper which I really love. I have also been working with Q Art Studio in Melbourne which employs talented artists with intellectual disabilities and we have produced a range of Christmas Swing Tags on our Elephant Dung Paper with their wonder designs of which 10% is going to Q Art. They will be in stores this Christmas.