What have been honest mistakes in the foundation and development of Purple Impression?
I would say too much flexibility and lack of future planning in the running of the business. The plan with Purple Impression initially was to connect with an NGO to get our designs produced, but, when we travelled, we found ourselves in the heart of the area known for hand embroidery. It didn’t make sense to go through an NGO in a different city so we decided to set up our own production. It was an “in the moment” decision. We had to face many challenges of running a production facility in a place we have not spent much time in before. People had a different way of working and different work ethics – which can be frustrating, but I guess with time you learn and are more prepared as you move on.
What lessons can you impart to new business owners from them?
It is good to be flexible, but flexibility without a plan can be stressful. Whatever decision you make in your business make sure to have your short and long term goals figured out and try to chart all the scenarios that you might run into to get to that goal and decide ahead of time what decision you will lean towards if you were to run into that situation.
What have been the greatest emotional struggles for you?
The greatest struggle I’d say has been while choosing the artisans. We try to reach out to artisans that are skilled and deserving, but sometimes we are faced with the challenge of choosing between the women’s skills or their need for work. This was a struggle initially, but we decided to create a program where lower skilled women could still get employed. But worked on smaller, less detailed designs that perhaps don’t need the mastery that some of the other designs might require. This gives them the ability to build up their skills, being able to take on other work as time goes by.
With respect to fair trade practices, what is the importance of them to the garment industry workers, especially those in some of the poorer areas of the world?
I believe fair trade is the key to lift many workers out of poverty. Most often, workers in developing countries live under poverty not because they do not work, or are unskilled, but due to lack of a living wage. At exploited wages, a worker is barely able to put food on the table for his family and pay rent, but a fair wage can mean education for their children and health care.
What can effectively attenuate the negative effects of pollution, climate change, and human rights abuses?
The move toward a more ethical production and sustainability is a step forward in the right direction but there is still work to be done. We have to educate the consumers more about the effects of fast fashion and give practical solutions to how a shift in their consumer habit can have a positive impact on the people and the planet.
What can reduce the rate of modern slavery and improve the status of women?
A fair living wage is step one in reducing modern day slaves and this can only be done by educated consumers who put pressure on bigger companies across all industries holding them accountable for their operations. As for the women, we can definitely do more by supporting causes and businesses that work towards women’s development and girls’ education. We should definitely support the artisan sector which is the second largest employer of women after agriculture. Supporting these causes means more education and financial independence for women which enable them to empower themselves and stand up for their rights.
How can men become more involved on-the-ground in the implementation of international women’s rights?
Men can be more involved by supporting and being present at causes that are working towards the betterment of women worldwide. They can also help spread awareness about issues that affect women’s rights, especially of those in developing countries.
What personal fulfillment comes from this work for you?
I really think that I have found my calling in this work. I have always been very passionate about women’s rights. As a child, I would hear some of the women share their stories about their difficulties of living under poverty and a patriarchal society during my summer visits to Pakistan and I could only feel helpless and listen, but it’s really rewarding and fulfilling now to be able to do something for them and know that the work you are doing is making some impact in their lives and that slowly, but surely we are able to change things for them.
What other work are you involved in at this point in time?
With another baby on the way, my time right now is divided between Purple Impression and family. To raise the next generation that has compassion and love for all is not at this time and so just struggling between being a mom and entrepreneur quiet honestly as this time.
Any feelings or thoughts in conclusion?
If you are a consumer reading this then know that your dollar has immense power to make an impact. With every dollar we spend, we are supporting and promoting at least five different values and these are the values of the company you choose to spend your money on. So be mindful and dig deeper into the products you consume.
Thank you for your time, Drakshan.