A Happee way of making slow fashion

June 16, 2017

A Happee way of making slow fashion

Peeyush and one of our artisans working on new samples

Since the beginning of our journey, we've been working to ensure fair wages to the artisans who make our products, even if it means traveling hundreds of kilometers to certify that we are paying and giving credit to the right people.

The fashion industry is notorious for labor exploitation, and as fast fashion gains more market exploitation tends to rise, as it is impossible to lower the costs of garments more and more without the human factor attached to it. This is why so many companies make garments in countries like India, Bangladesh and Vietnam, where labor costs are very low. 

But even at cheap countries, it is possible to create fashion in a human and fair way. This is what we are trying to do, and we are not alone on this journey - a new trend is spreading of social businesses in this industry, which intend on solving social issues through fashion, either by using part of the profits to donate shoes to people who need it, employing people in condition of vulnerability, or having a fair trade approach through the entire chain of production.

Last month, Peeyush traveled around India giving workshops to college students about social entrepreneurship, as a part of the Janhit Jagran initiative, which aims to nurture and fund social businesses (if you have a social business in India, join their program now!). Now, Janhit Jagran, in association with Chaaipani, have covered a part of our beautiful journey towards a better way of making fashion. You can read the post below, and the original version can be found on their website:

THE INDUSTRY

"30 billion dollars worth fashion industry, according to the US State Department, is fuelled by a lack of transparency in unregulated production and illegal work practices. Slavery in the fashion world can appear in a variety of forms from harvesting the cotton for a t-shirt, spinning the fiber to yarn, sewing the garment and modeling the final product. The difference between slavery and extremely exploitative labor can be vague and the fashion industry walks a fine line.

In 2013, a building collapsed in Bangladesh, killing 1127 people who worked for companies that manufacture clothes for big global brands.  But with small and local manufacturers it is no different. Much of the labor and backbone of a clothing collection is contracted out to various players and tracing all the steps from raw material to final product proves quite difficult, thus making exploitation and illegal activities get unnoticed.

collapse of the rana plaza building
The collapse of the Rana Plaza building

Enter Peeyush and Leticia, young entrepreneurs from Jaipur who were looking for suppliers for their upcoming merchandises venture.

“We found a significant lack of transparency in the sector. Companies that claimed to produce goods, would buy from someone else. Manufacturers refused to allow producing companies to meet the labors, dodging quality inspection. Artisans were exploited in the entire garment industry. So we decided to ourselves go to rural India and find artisans who’d work directly for us”, says Peeyush, co-founder of Happee, fashion accessories company.

Digging deeper into the subject, they found that although officially there are 7 million artisans in India, unofficially this number was as high as 200 million. (official figures count only the master artisan in that business). Crafts are the backbone of the rural economy after farming. Today, 70% of Indian population lives in rural areas, more than 800 million people, and every Indian state has a different form of handicraft, made mostly by artisans who manufacture in their homes with other members of their family.

Most artisans have a poor educational background, exposing them to exploitation by loan sharks, manufacturers and even customers who often bargain and refuse to see value in intense work.

“Since the industry doesn’t pay well, upcoming generation no longer wants to be in the same profession. Often, many artisans end up moving to bigger cities to be underpaid manual laborers. Combining these factors with the advances of machine-made goods that attempt to copy handmade items like embroidery and tie dye, many crafts are in jeopardy, being less valued over time, putting the whole rural economy at stake”, adds Peeyush.

artisan making scarves in india
Our cotton scarves being made in India

Sifting through houses in rural Rajasthan and Gujarat, Peeyush started dealing with artisans himself, trying to understand their lives, their needs and pricing structure, to ensure the artisans were paid adequately for their craft. Happee currently works with 10 artisans from 2 states, providing fair wages and improving the products so they reach international quality standards. The company is also working to provide them training sessions about business and finance. The artisans and their work are also promoted via social media and product tags, so as to bring forth the faces behind the beautiful craft.

“Happee was born out of a desire to create a better and happier world, taking unique handmade Indian accessories globally and providing artisans a better life, creating an ecosystem that makes all stakeholders – employees, artisans, customers happy”, says Leticia.

Happee is based out of Jaipur and currently sells online at their own website, with more than 80% of the revenue coming from foreign customers, especially from Brazil, United States, United Kingdom, Italy, and France.

Speaking of the operations, Peeyush says,

“We identify artisans and give them an initial training. Next, we periodically visit them to keep a track of their progress, while guiding the, in latest trends in design, finishing, ergonomics and other aspects which can improve them and make their products more appealing to international customers. We believe in meeting global quality standards when it comes to our product, which we rigorously pursue with the artisans. Right now we are working with fashion accessories, which for us are divided into shoes (mojaris and leather chappals), leather handbags (wallets, tote bags, sling bags and so on – with embroidery and tie dye) and scarves (block printing and tie dye)”

Impact

Happee has so far commissioned goods worth INR 6.5 lac while paying higher wages to artisans as compared to others, which has directly contributed to the improved income of artisans. Also, in an attempt to support the education of underprivileged kids, Peeyush and Leticia donate USD 2 for every product sold, and the funds so generated have so far sponsored the education of 5 kids for a year.

Both Leticia and Peeyush have had their set of personal challenges. While the former found it difficult to deal with the male-dominated public spaces in India, the latter faced family pressure to take up stable jobs

“It’s all worth it, at the end of the day”, says Peeyush, sharing some happee pictures of associated artisans.



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Size Chart

In case you have any doubt regarding which size you should purchase, kindly follow these steps to measure your foot, then check on the table below, the size which corresponds to the length of your foot in centimeters.

1. Standing up, place a sheet of paper under your foot. Draw the outline with a pencil.

2. With a measuring tape or ruler, measure the length of the foot, from the heel to the tip of the biggest toe.

 

   BALLERINA SHOES
COUNTRY SIZE

UK/INDIA

5

5.5

6

6.5

7

7.5

 

EUROPE

38

38/39

39

39/40

40

41

 

BRAZIL*

36

36.5

37

37.5

38

39

 

US

7

7.5

8

8.5

9

9.5

 

CENTIMETERS (FOOT) 23.8 24.1 24.6 25.1 25.4 25.9

 

   MOJARI SHOES
COUNTRY SIZE

UK/INDIA

3

4

5

6

7

8

 

EUROPE

35

36

37

38

39

40

 

BRAZIL*

33

34

35

36

37

38

 

US

4

5

6

7

8

9

 

CENTIMETERS 21,3 22,2 23 23,8 24,6 25,4

 

*The Brazilian sizes are already converted in the Portuguese version of the website.

*Our ballerinas fit the foot comfortably. Mojaris, however, are a type of shoe which are naturally a little tighter, as they adjust to the foot upon wearing.

*This chart may vary a little from other charts, as there is no international standard for shoe sizes.

*In case you still have any doubts regarding your size, send us an email at info@iamhappee.com, we will revert back ASAP. :)

 

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