The Sujata Textile Project (Sept 2018-Sept 2023)

Project aims

Women's Economic Empowerment

Our prime focus is that the 30 local women who will be part of the project by 2023 will gain a reliable source of income, they themselves can control. As part of this aim, we will be conducting financial literacy programmes. 

Provide skills-training:

By 2023, we will conduct a three months-long skill training programme for 30 women. This will enable them with the technical skillset needed to produce a high quality western fashion product. In turn, this will improve their knowledge and enhance their self dependence.  

Employment Creation: 

Within 2023, we aim to provide employment in a textile business for 30 women in the Sujata Village. Durable salaries can improve the livelihoods for the women and their families.

Project Description 

In February and March this year we conducted a feasibility study where we conducted interviews with up to 23 women. Many of the women has some experience in textile production from before, but lacks the opportunity of having a stable job. We want to start a work environment that is uplifting and caters the everyday need of the women. Based on the interviews these are some of the expressed desires:   

  • Five hours work day with a hot meal. 

  • Accessible (close to the village). 

  • Safe and inclusive working environment.

  • Reliable contracts and stable living wages.  

  • Vocation during festivals and maternity leave. 

Our local daughter company in India is currently constructing a workspace for the project (see pictures below). 

The Product: 

Our product will be unique in that its authentic (ethical, transparent value chain), unique (makes use of embroidery that does not exist on the market from before), personal (tells a clear of the women who made it), exclusive (have not been made in a big quantum) and its comfortable to wear. The uniqueness of the product(s) will be displayed in four ways: the story, the design, the material, and the costumer service. 

The story of women will be at the epicentre from start to finish. One of our signature moves will be to use a clothing tag that in addition to displaying the carbon footprint of the product, it will provide the story of the women who have made the product, with a link to a more detailed description on our webpage. The key take-home message will be about the women who went from being housewives to self-fulfilled working women with an empowered voice. Each product will tell the story of the woman who have produced it (preferably with a name to make it more personal). This will give the costumer a sensation of contributing in making a better life for the artisans.

We work with price winning designers that has achieved positive international brand association and portrayed in renowned magazines. The design of the product will depict some characteristics of the Indian culture that the artisans inhabits, while still upholding a Scandinavian appeal. The techniques used in the production will be unique in that it is local, and has a cultural value (e.a. hand stitching methods, block prints, use of tassels, and embroidery that does not exist in the market from beforehand).

We have conducted a market assessment where we found that 71,56% out of 238 respondents, found access to purchasing options of ethical fashion products to be inaccessible. 80% of the respondents said they would be willing to purchase more ethical clothing products if it was available to them. This expresses a demand for the items we aspire to make. 

The design will be ready by the end of the summer and production will start in September. 

The Designer Team:

Our designer team consists Birgitte H. Hortemo and Siv So Hee Steinaa is currently a professor in Design at Oslo Met. She has 20 years of experience working within the Norwegian fashion industry, and running her own fashion brand called So Hee between 2000-2010. The brand has amongst others been embraced by HH Crown Princess Mette Marit of Norway, and was the first Norwegian fashion label to win “Merket for God Design” (2005). Siv has also won acclaimed design prices such as Nåløyet (2005); “Unge formgivere” (2005), in addition to the grant “Gro – stipendet” by Innovation Norway (2007). Siv has agreed to invest 300 hours in the project, through a research grant given by Oslo Met.

Birgitte H. Hortemo is an emerging designer, with a Master degree in Design from Oslo Met. Birgitte have held two internships for Christina Ledang and By TiMo. Birgitte is a former student of Siv, and is hired by us as a freelancer to design a high-quality slow fashion product in association with Siv. They will help us craft a portfolio that we can use to display the skillset of the women in Sujata.

Our first retail partner is Emma Wright, owner of Studio Bazar, a local store in Oslo. Emma is interested in designing a collection of Lax wear, made out of organic cotton, by the women in the Sujata village. Customers can either purchase this product directly in her shop at St. Hanshaugen, Oslo, or through their online web shop.