One of the things I love most about ethical and fair trade fashion is telling the stories behind the companies that make these beautiful things. That’s basically why I started this podcast, so you could hear the stories behind the brands doing these amazing things! But what I love even more is when I’m out somewhere and someone says “Oh I love that gorgeous necklace” or “That shirt is incredible, where did you get it?” and I get to tell the story behind the gorgeous piece. But it’s not like they knew that piece was made by artisans or is changing the world somehow. They just knew it was beautiful and wanted to know where I got it, but the fact that it has a story behind it means that much more.
My guest on the Business with Purpose podcast this week is Manish Gupta, founder of Matr Boomie, a fair trade brand that produces some of the most beautiful jewelry and hand-crafted goods that works with INCREDIBLY talented artisans in India. I have been a big fan of Matr Boomie for quite some time and was honored to hear Manish’s story and hear about how they got started. This is such a great conversation and you’re going to learn so much!
When ethical brands try to sell products, it is easy to make the products too much about the story of the artisans and not the art itself. Manish and I discuss how he lets the products lead while still empowering the artisans behind the products. By viewing the artisans as partners and not as a charity, Manish avoids “pity sales” and lets the amazingly beautiful products speak for themselves.[click_to_tweet tweet=”“We study Indian Art form, research new art, and find how it can be applied to make products for our market.” -@matrboomie @stillbeingmolly #businesswithpurposepodcast” quote=”“We study Indian Art form, research new art, and find how it can be applied to make products for our market.” -@matrboomie @stillbeingmolly #businesswithpurposepodcast”]
In today’s world, the term “fair trade” is thrown around quite often while few companies are actually fair-trade certified. It is so much harder for craft products to be certified due to the complex nature of supply chains. However, some businesses are Fair Trade Certified by the Fair Trade Federation, meaning they follow ethical practices. Manish explains the intense review companies like his own have to go through to become certified and the principles they have to follow.[click_to_tweet tweet=”“We want to make sure people know that these products are specially made, unique, and giving back, we have to find the right balance between sharing the story, but not making it too heavy.” -@matrboomie @stillbeingmolly #businesswithpurposepodcast” quote=”“We want to make sure people know that these products are specially made, unique, and giving back, we have to find the right balance between sharing the story, but not making it too heavy.” -@matrboomie @stillbeingmolly #businesswithpurposepodcast”]
POWER OF CONSUMERS
As consumers in the US, we are so far away from where many products are being made and it is easy to say we don’t know the processes and ignore the problem. Manish and I discuss how consumers need to take ownership about what they’re buying in this day and age. Consumers make a huge impact and can make brands more conscious just by asking them how products are made. A change in consumers’ spending habits will force businesses to pay attention and make a change.[click_to_tweet tweet=”“The artisan just wants to feel pride in their work, and feel that people think their products are beautiful . It’s not about that this person is marginalized, it’s that the person has talent, and worth, and dignity.” -@matrboomie @stillbeingmolly ” quote=”“The artisan just wants to feel pride in their work, and feel that people think their products are beautiful . It’s not about that this person is marginalized, it’s that the person has talent, and worth, and dignity.” -@matrboomie @stillbeingmolly “]
On a trip back to his native India after years living in the United States, Manish Gupta was struck anew by the extreme material poverty of his homeland. With deep respect for the rich culture and potential of rural Indians, he began asking questions. After hundreds of conversations and even more glasses of tea, Manish realized that he had a role to play — that he could bridge these two seemingly disparate worlds.
He started partnering with grassroots organizations to transform unskilled women and men into master artisans. He personally ensured that the materials were safe for people and kind to the land. With the help of his mother and sister, Manish established a team in India to guarantee clear, efficient communications and high-quality production. He gathered a team in Austin, Texas, to design collections that entice Westerners while honoring the culture, craft and capacity of Indian artisans. And along the way, he married a beautiful, inspiring Indian designer, Ruchi, who quickly became his partner in life, love and business.
Nearly a decade later, the little company run out of Manish and Ruchi’s Austin apartment has grown into a leading fair trade wholesaler and innovator in ethical, sustainable business.
CONNECT WITH MANISH:
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