Interview with the founder of Jewelled Buddha
In today’s interview, we speak with Harjit Sohotey-Khan, founder of Jewelled Buddha about handcrafted ethical fashion and homeware for style conscious women. With ethics in mind, Harjit aims to empower you with ethically made wardrobe staples that enable artisans to live a life free from poverty.
Thank you for wanting to be part our exclusive network. What were your reasons for joining us and investing in the Ethical Brand Directory / Academy and community?
I’ve been working with NGO’s, artisans and social enterprises for a few years now, selling ethically made luxury fashion. It’s so good to be part of a community of brands and changemakers who share the same values and business ethics as we do. As a community we have a bigger voice that can make more of an impact. Joining EBD enables us to get in front of an audience that cares about sustainable fashion and is open and receptive to our cause of fashion that respects the environment and people.
Can you give me a brief overview of your brand and the type of products you sell?
HANDCRAFTED ETHICAL FASHION AND HOMEWARE FOR STYLE CONSCIOUS WOMEN
Working exclusively with social enterprises, NGO’s, artisans and brands we sell accessories and homeware made entirely by hand using ageold craft techniques. We use upcycled, handloomed, organic and vegan materials and our focus is placing artisans at the heart of the story to celebrate quality crafted fashion.
* Style Made To Empower – Our products empower artisans with a sustainable wage and the consumer with high quality, stylish fashion that respects the planet and people
* Authentic handcrafted textiles – Inspired by my travels, our collections combine age-old techniques with modern design that become wardrobe staples that last
* Transparent – by showing you who makes your clothes and the impact you’re purchase has, we hope this builds a better connection and respect for what you wear
What was your WHY? What inspired you to set up your business?
Travel changed my life. Wanderlust took me out of the 9-5 and into an exciting year of adventure across Asia. It was whilst I was travelling that I came across many artisans. My love for handcrafted textiles was realised with a commitment to only sourcing ethically produced textiles. Travel taught me life-lessons of appreciating our clothes, people and the beautiful planet we live on.
What challenges do independent brands like yourself face?
There’s so many! From limited resources to figuring out where to invest your time and money. Even juggling the everyday things , wearing a lot of hats and trying to be in a several places at the same time. As your brand grows and you become more confident in what your brand stands for, scaling your business and everything that comes with that is always a challenge.
Why is it important to be ethical in business?
I’ve always felt strongly about the injustices surrounding fair labour practices. We live in a world where we can so easily change this, but unfortunately, fast fashion dominates the landscape and we inadvertently feed the profit margins of those brands who turn a blind eye to the injustices of garment workers in developing countries. Placing the consumer at the heart of the issue and transferring the power to them is, I believe, one of the ways we can create change.
What is the link to your page on ethics on your website?
What steps are you taking to ensure your brand operates as ethically as possible?
We work closely with selective social enterprises and NGO’s who have a solid reputation, sense of integrity and transparency in their fair trade practices, women’s empowerment programmes and environmental impact. We visit them at least once a year, building lasting relationships, learning about the production and crafts and meeting artisans.
How important is sustainability for businesses? What are you doing in your business to reduce your environmental impact?
Sustainability is so important for us, as we don’t want to add to the environmental damage that’s already done. Our products are made totally by hand with minimal or zero impact on the environment. They’re also made with natural dyes where possible and support local communities. We will continue to source products from upcycled, handloomed, organic or vegan materials.
What are you not doing in your business but want to improve on?
As we grow, we’ll be looking at off-setting our carbon footprint with regards to shipping products globally. This includes any personal or business trips we take to source products. We’d also look at minimising our operational impact on the environment for example hosting our website on a green platform.
What is the link to your page on sustainability on your website?
What is your supplier and sourcing policy?
We’re committed to selling high quality fashion that’s been sourced responsibly via a supply chain that’s transparent and ethical. We visit suppliers regularly to ensure our standards and ethics are met. At the bare minimum we want to ensure to artisans earn a living wage that is sustainable, work in a safe and clean environment with regular breaks. We seek social businesses who invest in empowerment, educational programmes gender and social equality.
In 10 years from now where would you like to see the fashion/beauty/travel world? From a business and a consumer perspective
There’s a lot of fashion brands out there doing some amazing things with innovative, natural materials that are sustainable. I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of these coupled with a new younger generation of consumers who are more aware of their power to choose wisely and impact the earth positively. Sustainable travel has really grown with emphasis on more experiential holidays. I hope we’ll be travelling more mindfully, connecting more with communities and experiencing the beauty of the earth as it should be.
Do you have any favourite ethical and sustainable quotes, or any key influencers that inspire you?
My favourite has to be ‘there is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness’ by Mahatma Gandhi. He raised a revolution by politicising his ethical concerns about the production of cotton.
Why should the general public care about supporting ethical and environmentally responsible brands?
Apart from all the good they’re doing as purpose-driven brands, I think this inspires a great deal of creativity and a desire to be different. As a result we see innovative products being launched, unique clothing being crafted, solutions being offered to environmental problems and people being valued. Who wants to live in a world where high street brands dominate our everyday lives purely for profit. It’s the independent businesses who really make an impact on us.