Strong, powerful, and principled leaders are needed if we are to see lasting change in the fight against fast fashion. Anyone familiar with the clothing industry cannot be happy with the status quo. We have had the privilege of meeting with, and learning from, the growing number of social entrepreneurs who have the vision and capabilities to lead these changes.
One such leader is Anjali Schiavina. We have met face to face with Anjali a number of times since we first visited her production facility in Ponidcherry, India in April of this year. Since that first visit her team have produced Visible's first t-shirts, and will be dispatching Visible's second round of t-shirts in the coming days.
Every time we have met Anjali we have been blown away by both her vision as to how the clothing sector can and should be, and her operational ability to be able to implement that vision. When we spent time together last month, we were once again energised to see the fruits of her work first hand. In particular we were struck by three things:
- Her commitment to workers. Anjali’s primary purpose in setting up Mandala (formerly CAOS) was to ensure that workers could be treated fairly. As a successful business lady, Anjali, arguably could have generated greater profits and growth for the company if she had been focused on single bottom line. Instead Anjali regularly seeks opportunities to hear from the workers and has developed innovative ways to ensure that they are paid and treated fairly. She recognises that paying workers fairly and on time is fundamental, but also that a holistic approach is needed, one of the many examples of how she does this is she arranges for experts to run free health workshops and financial management workshops for her workers. She is also developing an extremely challenging initiative to positively impact the communities in local villages, which we will share more about post launch.
- Her understanding of the world of fashion. We have been continually impressed by the quality that is produced by Mandala. Anjali has been focused on that and, along with treating the workers fairly, has instilled a discipline on quality and results.
- Her tenacity to overcome challenges. Building a new company not only requires initial vision, but the ability to fulfil that vision. From this last trip Anjali reminded us of the importance of focusing on the whole supply chain and the need to ensure that the materials that enter her production facility have been made fairly. She recognises the opportunity she has to positively impact people through supply chains, and is therefore making commitments to small scale organic Fairtrade cotton farmers in India, who by nature of their work constantly face uncertainty and challenges beyond their control.
Thankfully, Anjali is not the only one with the vision and capabilities to lead change. We are excited that in a few days time we will be introducing the social entrepreneur behind our new production partner in Vietnam and the impact of her work.