More than ever is time to take action, be involved in the change we want to see in our world. Looking for solutions, Jennifer Mccord realized it was time to slow down the fashion consumption. Now, she is the founder and CEO of Ashanari, a Sustainable Clothing Brand ethically manufactured in India.
Her interest in sustainable products began when she started to implement the practices of yoga philosophy into daily life. The first step in yoga philosophy is essentially ahimsa, which means not to harm. As she was learning more and more about the hazardous conditions and massive waste from these industries, Jennifer realized she was indirectly responsible for supporting these unethical business practices. “The products I was consuming were affecting so many lives. I knew something had to change.”
Tell us more about the story of your brand and its mission.
Ashanari means hope for women in Sanskrit. It grew out of a non-governmental organization to empower women in impoverished areas of India. The NGO began by offering education to children, and then their mothers would come to learn as well. We now have over 150 women and children in the program and 6 women have been trained to sew. We’ve had to move facilities in the past so we are hoping to create a permanent school and technical centre so the women and children can learn in an uninterrupted environment.
Which are your main sources of inspiration?
Our motive is to promote equality through education. When you meet these women and see their children, see how they work, see how they learn, it’s incredible. They’re so determined, hardworking and grateful. This isn’t just a ‘brand’, each article is a story of the craftsmen and women who have poured a lifetime of knowledge and experience into their labour.
What’s your relationship with ever-changing fashion trends?
I don’t understand fashion trends. We intend to keep our designs simple and wearable for daily life. I plan on influencing the company to move towards business casual. I do understand this is not runway material, but the goal is not to create a new trend, it’s to fill a need (clothing as a basic necessity) and fulfil it in using responsible methods.
What is your personal view of fast fashion?
Hatred! Utter, unadulterated hatred of these industry ‘leaders’ who exploit human beings, create an inferior product, then market it to the masses as the ‘new trend’.
Do you feel that the industry as a whole is falling a bit behind if comparing to sustainable fashion?
We can only hope. The public needs to be aware that we cannot continue to support unethical business practices. Not everyone has the privilege of equal opportunity employment or fair labour laws. Spending a few more dollars on sustainable textiles will greatly improve living conditions as well as environmental conditions. Not to mention you are buying a higher quality product and supporting a good cause.
Virtually all major clothing companies have a work in progress in the field of sustainability. What makes your brand stand out?
Our clothing not only offers all employees a fair wage, but we also use a portion of the sales to support their education and education for their children. This project was born out of a need to raise capital for the NGO.
We also have this amazing opportunity for people to design their own clothing! They can even design the fabric print. Its truly amazing, I’m so excited about this part of the project.
What does the future hold for your brand? Any plans you could share with us?
We’re going worldwide! Since our opening, we’ve had interest from Europe and Australia. Ashanari USA is only a few months old, and Ashanari India is less than a year old, we are just babies in the grand scheme of things, we are looking forward to making some waves.