AN INTERVIEW WITH STEPHAN AND PANNEER
I took a quick interview with Stephan Himmer and Panneer Selvam who are the heart and soul of Gecko! since over a decade now, sipping over some Black Coffee (Its everyone’s favorite here).
How did your journey begin with Gecko?
We started Gecko about 17 years ago, in the year 1998, as a brand that focused on quality and wanted to make products that our customers could connect with. India has a tropical climate in the south; it’s mostly hot and humid here. So we started making clothes with natural fabrics like linen and khadi at the time when it had just entered the global market. Over the span of time we have always focused in pioneering products that our customers needed!
What is the inspiration behind Gecko? Why did you choose to start at Auroville?
The purpose of Auroville is to realize human unity! Here a lot of importance is given towards building a healthy and green environment. At Gecko we believe that our people are the heart of the business. We provide a healthy environment and also engage with the local communities here to deliver sustainable products that contribute to happy customers.
Gecko products are known for their quality! You have been handling the production department, can you tell us more about it Panneer?
Quality assurance is our top priority. Each Garment at Gecko! goes through a quality check at every step of the production process. Every piece is tracked by our efficient workers, from the cutting process to the making of the final product. They are also pre-washed to assure a perfect fit without any shrinkage.
Gecko shirts are so loved by your customers. How did you come up with a Bamboo Viscose shirt line?
Stephan says, “We are trying to make an ecological difference with our products. Every product manufactured here has a story behind it. At the present time, Bamboo is the most sustainable resource and is also considered the fiber of the 21st century! Bamboo Viscose fabric keeps the body temperature cool and is also luxuriously soft. “
I read in The Hindu article, that the Dirt shirt started as an insider joke! Can you share that incident?
Well, the Dirt shirts started as an insider’s joke. One of my relatives visited Auroville during monsoon season. While cycling, he had acquired splashes of dirt on his white pants, and from then on the pants were stained with no chance of ever being white again. At first it was a recreational thing! We made fun of the whole incident, but eventually we started making the Auroville dirt shirt as a souvenir for people to remember their time in Auroville, and somehow we all have in mind that moment of our life when we stained our clothes with dirt.
What motivated you to start with the up-cycling range of shopping bags and pouches?
Up-cycling is trending. We wanted to make use of the left over pieces of fabrics from our production process. So we came up with the up-cycled shopping bags and pouches to encourage people to use our bags rather than plastic, and keep our environment cleaner and greener.
So from where can people buy your products?
We supply Gecko! Products at Auroville Boutique at the Visitor's Centre, Auroville; La Pondicherry at Hotel La Promenade, Pondicherry; Boutique D' Auroville – Pondicherry; and of course the online store at https://www.auroville.com/
What is your most satisfying moment?
We make smart clothing! Our line is free spirited yet casual, and they work well with formals too. It gives us immense satisfaction to see a twinkle of joy in the eyes of our customers. It gives a sense that we have been able to convey our approach and inspire our customers and the community towards building a better future.
What do you attribute your success to?
“I have never stopped having fun! I love my work!” says Stephan with full energy and enthusiasm. Panneer adds to this by saying that’s how they run the show!
From Bamboo Viscose shirts to Dirt Shirts to up-cycled range of shopping bags and pouches. What’s next?
We plan to start our lady's line soon!