Did you know the fashion industry is one of the world's largest polluters? Or, that one-in-six people work in the global fashion industry and that most of them are women earning less than $3 per day. There is no doubt, the fashion industry greatly impacts our environment and millions of people's lives from the picking of the cotton upwards through the production chain.
More and more people are trying to rhyme glamour and ethics. The Australian fashion start-up Thread Harvest is one organisation joining in the revolution taking place in fashion. As one of Australia’s largest collections of ethically made and sustainably sourced clothing, the online store offers a place for conscientious consumers. It searches the globe for inspiring men’s and women’s fashion, each with a compelling story of social or environmental impact.
I have had the pleasure to meet with Jai Sharma, the Co-Founder of Thread Harvest. He is such a passionate and committed social entrepreneur that has much to share with us. No doubt you'll enjoy some of his stories.
We made it up as we went. Throughout the whole process, there was a strong and healthy sense of self-doubt. “Is this actually going to work? Are people going to like this?” Even now, there is still an element of self-doubt. I suspect it will never go away. There’s also something we realised very soon: we would never get the business to the point of perfection. There’s always going to be something else you want to do, something you want to add or another way to improve it. And so we decided to just enjoy the journey, every step, and see how it goes.
When both of us set out, we wanted to make sure that our hearts remained true to the vision. That no matter what happened, we would keep the guiding principle of “Love your neighbour and love God” at the heart of the business. We honestly felt that no matter what would happen, if we would do that, it would be a success in our mind. If everything fails, if we just learn a lot, if we lose every cent, it will still be a success if we keep that heart and business true. And I think we did. We stayed true to the business and to our vision. And I’m proud of that. Proud of Brian for doing that. Proud of the team.
There are a few skills you need to succeed as a social entrepreneur and I certainly didn’t always exhibit them. I made a lot of mistakes! One of the skills I tried to work on was being comfortable with uncertainty. In the traditional work role, you know at what time you start and at what time you finish. You have a well-defined job description. You know exactly what the project is about. But with a start-up in particular, you just go and all of a sudden, you pull off in a certain direction and you find yourself doing stuff that you never thought you would do or you don’t have skills for. You need to have a willingness to go with the flow and deal with the uncertainty. I think humility is also really important. I think a lot of the benefit that we gained from our business, has been from listening to people that have been exceptionally wise or walked the journey before. Humility to be willing to learn from other wise people was big for us. The third one is a willingness to go with the emotional highs and lows. It’s a really emotional and volatile process. I’ve never experienced anything like it. You make your first big sale and all of a sudden your emotions are soaring and it feels fantastic. The next day, the website breaks down and you feel like your whole product is completely ruined. But then you get featured in a big fashion journal and there is another massive highlight. It’s just a massive rollercoaster. In an average day, you can have massive ups and downs.
If you want to find out more or if you are a conscientious shopper or changemaker that cares about fashion and substance and embraces values such as sustainability and social impact, I invite you to check out the website of Thread Harvest and join the movement. Because we all have the potential for doing good through what we wear!