Androsia Founder Outraged And Saddened

Wednesday 02nd, February 2011 / 23:24 Published by

Androsia Batik

When I founded Androsia in 1970 there was such an optimistic sense of “we” in the air.  Lyndon Pindling had come home from his law studies in London with a mission in his mind and a fire in his heart.  He was leading us into independence. “We” were going to become an independent nation. “We” could do it! He captured the hearts and minds of the Bahamian people.

On Andros, oh  Andros, my Andros! There were women who needed work and I too had been caught up in the optimism and thought, “Why not? We can do it! Of course we can!”  We didn’t know how to batik fabric, that was something they did in other parts of the world.  In India and Malaysia and Indonesia.  But we could learn.  We learned together, and refined our skills over the years, weighing our dyes to the thousandth of a gram, turning the fabrics over and over for that unique clear dye color, mixing our waxes to just the right heat. We had to learn along the way, and we did. We created our own distinctive style, different from what they were doing in India and Malaysia and Indonesia. Our own Bahamas style of batik.

In  the early years “Lady P” wore Androsia, even though our work was less than perfect, to show her support for a Bahamian business.  She sent notes and small gifts to encourage the growing staff of Androsia.  We did our dancing fashion shows, not only here in the Bahamas, but “off” as well, as Ambassadors for the Bahamas. And even sometimes with Andros crabs as a surprise at the end of the show.

Bahamians became proud of Androsia, because they knew that it was made here in our Bahamas. How many of us have worn Androsia when we “went off”, to show our island colors.  There was a time when people I had never met would stop me on the street in Nassau, and in the Family Islands, and offer their own suggestions for fabric styles.  “Aren’t you the Androsia Lady?” they would ask. “You could try one sailboat design, in that putty blue color”. Or “How ’bout a lobster in that peachy kinda pink color.”

We worked hard.  The number of jobs for Androsians grew.  We created jobs as well for women in the shops in Nassau and Freeport.  We grew into the second generation of women, daughters and daughters in law of the original Androsia women. Androsia became a known part of the local economy as well as a part of our Bahamian identity.  Since 1970.

Last week on Saturday I went into a fabric shop in Nassau to buy some pins. If you were one of the  customers you will easily remember what happened when I saw roll after roll of Androsia fabric which is not Androsia fabric at all.  It doesn’t say Androsia, as it does in each and every yard of real Androsia fabric.  It says Bahamas.  And that “Bahamas” written into that fabric was written by an Indian or a Malaysian or an Indonesian. Not by a Bahamian. It is our Androsia designs, exactly copied, but it is not made on Andros or anywhere in the Bahamas.  It is made by people in another country, by people in another land who have been given jobs to make copies of Androsia fabric.  Seeing those foreign made copies of Androsia just put my blood in a boil.  If you were there you were perhaps shocked to hear me yell, and I did yell, “This is disgusting. THIS IS DISGUSTING!”

Why is it considered clever to undercut a Bahamian product?  Bahamian jobs, skilled work learned over decades. For a few dollars!

When did we go from WE to ME?

This shop had the exclusive in Nassau to sell Androsia fabrics. And this is what they have done with it.  Ripped off their own people.  Taken jobs away from Bahamians and given them to Indians. Or Malaysians.

Go to the Androsia factory on Andros and see how many jobs have been lost.  You can feel it when you?re there.  There is sadness in the air.

I remember with such longing the love that was in the air when we took on the challenge to create a Bahamian textile and garment company.  And the joy we had, the challenges we overcame through the years, the hard work we did in order to make Androsia a reality.

I am a Bahamian citizen, since 1975, and although I don’t live here right now I come home to Andros every year. This will always be home to me.  I have no ownership in Androsia so my outrage has nothing to do with my personal economy.  My outrage has purely to do with my sense of hopelessness and utter frustration when I see Bahamians robbing Bahamians.  When I see that we have gone from WE CAN DO IT  to LET ME TAKE THAT.

I do so hope we can wake ourselves up to a better time for our beloved Bahamas, a WE time instead of this ME time.

Rosi Birch
The Androsia Lady

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31 Comments on “Androsia Founder Outraged And Saddened

    • I am going to promote the Androsia factory. I am about to order some fabric myself. The replicated versions can not even beigin to compare to the bold beauty of the original

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  • Being an older Bahamian and now living in the USA know first hand and believe everything u r saying. However just ask Louis Vitton and Guess etc about product infringement and copy right violations

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  • Disgraceful of the shop selling the knock off fabric. Hopefully the Bahamians will boycott. My heart has always remained in the Bahamas. I so remember fondly Rosi and her creativity.
    Lori Godbold

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  • Unfortunately the vision was lost along the way, as politicians and political parties led the nation to one that was divided along party lines. They systematically and methodically focused on how they would assure their parties survival and their own economic success and the rest be damned. Party supporters were set up in business and assured success through lucrative contracts with the government and all its branches and with every corrupt dollar of the peoples money paid to them the Bahamas became poorer while the politicians and their cronies became richer.

    Corruption in the form of nepotism, cronyism and extortion have become a way of life for many in the Bahamas as it is as much a means of survival for those that are privileged within the ruling party as it is for the survival of the corrupt party.

    If your lucky enough to be in the party, or picking up some of the crumbs from it, you will be oblivious to the socioeconomic problems destroying the Bahamas, and forcing those that are not in the party to a life of crime and suffering, or departure from these shore to countries that provide opportunity and hope.

    This survival mentality and lack of regard for ones fellow Bahamians and nationalism comes from decades of oppression and corrupt governance, but as a people we are either just too ignorant or too self absorbed to see it, or both.

    If we truly wish to enjoy this wonderful country we will need to pull together and achieve political party reform, government reform, education reform and develop accountability, efficiency within government and adherence to the equitable enforcement of the rule of law across the land.

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  • I did not realize that it was one of the few stores that have the exclusive right to sell Androsia that did this. I hope you can find new businesses to work with that support Bahamian made products.

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  • This is utterly disgusting. I am totally ashamed of this establishment. The owners know better because they are in the legal field as well and know Bahamian laws. It is all a matter of the $$$$$ sign. Some business ppl feel as though, they are in the high echelon of society it is fine to rob others blind because they have wealth.

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  • This is very sad.The people who own the establishment should be ashamed of themselves.They probably selling the fake inferior Material at the same price that they sold the real Androsia for thus ripping off Bahamians.

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  • it is sad, i often used Androsia as a uniform when I was self- employed as a Taxi Driver, I got so many comments from tourist and even Bahamians. Then the fabric stores started selling the other fabric and I decided to give it a try because it came across as a Bahamian product. But 2 years ago, I stop buying that fabric and went back to purchasing Androsia. The store clerks will tell you they are the same, it is just that one is cheaper than the other, but I realize that I was wasting my money with those fabrics because they do not retain it’s original texture and the colors after a while fades. I had discard all of those shirts, but was able to keep my androsia shirts. So from then on I went back to purchasing Androsia cause I know I will have them for a very long time.

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  • If We had the guts, this merchant would be left with this merchandise on hand for a long time. We should not purchase it. It is expensive Nd here we are all thinking that it is Androsia. I would not buy a scrap. Let’s see how many others would do the same. Sickening!

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  • I would find out who doing this and put them on blast all over social media. Indians dont consider themselves black, so why steal from black people. Sue them. Sue the stores selling the fake androsia and watch the change. Nobody like to lose money and if you leave this undone, it open the doors for others to think the could come in and do the same. EVERYBODY taking us for a ride

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  • I hope I purchased the real Androsia fabric a few weeks ago in Nassau at Commonwealth Fabrics.
    This is outrageous. Why would they do this to a local company ? I agree with you there is too much greed in this country. Too many people only thinking about “ME” and not “WE” or “US” as a nation.
    Wake Up Bahamas !!!

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  • When I go aboard to Bahamas Tourism offices or functions I smile at the beautiful colours of Androsia displayed. It let’s me know that those are Bahamians.
    No laws to protect our people or their art.
    Government looks out for the animals, fish, stem cell and other politicans but not the common man and not the development of our country. We need to support each other.

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  • I love and own some of your product, the beautiful Androsia. I hope that you will return to this store and talk to the owner. Say just what you have said here, and make them see what a mistake this is. Fight for your right! It is an inferior product that does not hold up like the real Andorsia. Good luck.

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  • We are not a nation of innovators. We love to copy. I don’t have the answers, but I think we need to start teaching our children from young the value of an authentic, original idea. We need to encourage them to be creative. In the minds of some, copying someone else’s product or idea is a shortcut to success. I see it every day, from the straw market to the restaurants and other business, people stealing the ideas and creativity of others. It’s rooted in greed and laziness and it’s disturbing.

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  • This is truly sad but honestly, being guilty of buying the “Bahamas” print myself I did not know it was foreign made and the fabric store didn’t reveal that it was not man in The Bahamas. When you go in to purchase they just say we have Androsia as well as a less expensive brand. So really, I don’t think people are aware that it’s not Bahamian made; at least I wasn’t so thanks for this article. I don’t believe customers intentionally undercut a Bahamian product; like me they probably weren’t aware the other brand wasn’t Bahamian. However, I make no excuse for the fabric store; I’m sure they know where their product comes from. Thanks again for this write-up!

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  • So sorry to read this Rosi. We were all so proud of Androsia. The Coral Sands staff always wore Androsia for dinner service……they felt so special and looked so pretty. I remember when the first fashion show was on Harbour Island. Dick flew you over and you put on a wonderful show at Coral Sands and the next day found a shop in town to open and sell your beautiful fabrics. It is still one of the prettiest stores on Harbour Island.

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  • So sorry to hear. That is why when I want Androsia I send directly to Andros. One time someone had to drive miles to fetch for me. Sad.

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  • This is very sad to hear. I remember growing up and going to my grandmothers house and Sir Clement Maynard God rest his soul he use to come to my Grammys house to bring bolts of Ambrosia which she made the Clothing back then for the Ministry of Tourism. So this breaks my heart . The illegal knock off stuff should be banned and removed from the shelves. This is our Bahamas our Androsia. I pray for our Nation.

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  • Jimmy Spice Curry

    Very sad to hear what is happening with Androsia due to rip–offs. Sadly, the problem stems from a lack of respect for things that are Bahamian, unless they can get the owner drunk or some bedroom action. Even our Junkanoo costumes that are typically thrown away after Junkanoo should be packaged and sold globally via Ebay, Amazon etc. Personally, I wrote, produced, directed the 1st Bahamian movie, edited it, and funded most of it (still have bills to pay), plus wrote, produced, engineered first Bahamian Hip Hop record, first Bahamian Junkanoo/Hip Hop, etc, and 1st Bahamian Celebrity Games. To date, I’m just ignored by the majority of higher ups, thus limiting my income streams. The deep problem is that our Bahamas knows little about our own history, culture, and the connection to Africa, the Pacific islands, etc. Unless we educate our people on their full history, and unless we have leaders that are willing to standup to the World Bank, IMF, powerful foreign nations, foreign manufacturers that are out selling Bahamian products sellers, the demise of Bahamian creators, producers, workers will continue to decline. PS: It’s no different than foreign firms and investors getting funds to open hotels, etc even as qualified brilliant Bahamians are ignored. I speak up on issues that I find alarming, thus I think I made quite a few enemies home for saying things like “both political parties need to stop arguing negative positions, and put the poor, the elderly, the Bahamian entrepreneurs, the youth, the working class first” PS: They even blocked my returning home to attend my father (Frederick Curry, Sr) funeral. How low can they be? Stay strong, and anyone reading this that wants to talk more solutions email me. March on Bahama land… Jimmy Spice Curry

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  • Just yesterday I was speaking to another Bahamian here in the US about the way that Bahamians treat one another. It is so sad, we are such a nation of blessed people, I know God and all of His Angels are crying in the way that Bahamians are to one another. I know to well the feeling and that is why I left the Bahamas to live abroad, my own family treated me like nothing, they treated the dogs in their yard much better than they treated me. In the end the one person I should of turned to treated me as though I was a step-child, and in the end I had to take care of her. Some years ago I meet this Bahamian in Tampa, FL and she was living out of her rental car, I invited her into my home she stole from me and ran my phone bills into the thousands, she offered to pay the phone bill for living with me hide the bills so that I couldn’t see what she was doing, I also invited so many Bahamians into my home while I was living in Chicago,IL and they too stole from me and talked about me like I was nothing. My heart is not into my people any more for the hurt began into my home and no matter how good you treat Bahamians they seem to just bring you down. This is no way to live and there are some serious issues with Bahamians, when people ask me where I am from and I tell them, they don’t believe me they ask me how come I am so different. My answer is that I fear what God is going to do to me when I come before Him. The Bahamians of whom I have come in contact with beginning as a child, has been nothing but takers and not givers. I am not saying all are like that because I am also a Bahamian, but truth is truth, and as a Bahamian we cannot change nothing if we don’t acknowledge it, I love my people, but it’s their ways that troubles me and that keeps me away from them and my home. But I pray for their ways to change for the better, and that is all that I can do.

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  • My mother, Berta Sands and her partner Helen Astarita started Bahama Hand Prints in the 1960’s from her garage originally then from the RandS building in the compound just east of the Kirk Presbyterian church. We used to feature and sell most of the Bahama Hand Prints line in our business, W.H.Sands & Son Ltd. There would be people coming in from Florida, USA particularly from Key West who would buy our hand print designs by the yard and come back later and try to sell exact copies of our designs to us, claiming that it was original and that they were sent to us from the “man” who designed these uniquely Bahamian fabrics. Of course I would straighten them out with threats of copyright infringement and intellectual theft of design ideas and the designs themselves – and we would send them off in unceremonious fashion. Even though they obviously never sold their knock off designs to us, the fact that they would be stolen then offered for sale to the people who carried Bahama Hand Prints show that they had no moral or professional qualms about what they were doing at all, but I wonder how much they actually did sell to unscrupulous merchants who being Bahamian would obviously know better what was really Bahamian made and what was a foreign knock off.

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    • Yes, I know that this happened to Bahama Hand Prints. I knew your Mother, Berta Sands, and was good friends with Helen Astarita. I know how hard they worked to bring their company along and give Bahamians solid employment. We do not respect our own, and that is sad indeed. Unfortunately intellectual property laws do not really help, as you undoubtedly well know, since all ‘they’ have to do is change one small piece of the design.
      What we need is change in our hearts.
      I always have hope!

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  • This is truly truly sad. We seem to never be able to strive to reach the top of our game, as there is always someone there trying to pull us down and undercut us for a few pennies.

    No National Pride, and no local brand loyalty. Sad. 🙁

    Reply

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