Jenerous - change Lives Through Ethical Fashion
When we talk fashion one subject that always comes up is the sustainability of brand and this comes down to how much more we are all ethically conscious of what we eat and what we wear. Women's fashion brand Jenerous fit the definition of an ethically sustainable brand and we sat down with the owner to talk everything from industry knowledge, to charitable pjects and even juggling that home-work life.
How would you describe your brand Jenerous?
Jenerous is an ethical brand selling stylish, affordable and sustainably created clothing and accessories, for women and girls.
We are a non-profit social enterprise business set up to support people and communities in India, through the production and sale of ethical clothing. As such, the majority of our profits go towards supporting our charitable projects in India.
Jenerous combines artisan hand block printing with contemporary style and our clothing is made by Fairtrade and ethical manufacturers across India. Our suppliers are companies where the workers, tailors and artisans are paid fairly and have good, safe working conditions.
With many years behind you in the fashion industry, specifically high street fashion - Why did you decide to launch your own brand?
I took a career break to look after my young children and when I started to think about returning to work, I decided to set up an ethical brand. I wanted to use my skills and experience to make a positive difference.
Whilst working as a designer for the UK high street I had visited India as a volunteer and taught in a school on the outskirts of Delhi. After seeing the extreme poverty and the need for employment, I was challenged to think about what I could do to help. In running my own fashion brand, my aim is to make a positive impact for people like those that I met on my first trip to India. Also, as a consumer who is looking to shop ethically, I find it hard to find clothing that I like
at a reasonable price. So, I hope Jenerous will meet that need for others like me, that are looking for contemporary and yet timeless sustainable fashion.
What was your initial vision when you launched Jenerous?
My initial vision was to create an ethical brand of clothing that transformed lives in India through training and work opportunities and the profits from sales. I also wanted to address some of the traditional stigmas associated with ethical fashion, by creating a stylish, affordable collection.
In the early stages of your brand launching what would you say was one of the hardest parts?
I think having the determination and courage to pursue my dream. There were so many reasons why I shouldn't take this risk, but I’m so glad I did. The designing side of starting the brand came naturally, but there were many other challenges in creating and running a business that I had to learn.
Coming from a strong fashion background do you think it gave you a slight
advantage against some of the rest starting out?
I think that everything that I had learnt throughout my career as a fashion designer has been invaluable. To understand how a big retail brand operates is useful, and knowing what sells well has definitely helped.
Let's talk about the collections, I am always interested to hear about designers' creative processes, where is the starting point for you when it comes to designing a new collection? Is it always the same starting point each time?
Coming from a high street fashion background I am used to following trends and looking at the catwalks for inspiration. One of the things that has been different designing for my own brand, has been the need to think very carefully about the styles that I design. As I try to provide a small balanced collection, offering choice and versatility, ensuring that our pieces are current but timeless.
So, I think my starting point now is what does my customer want to wear?
How did you find designing the first collection for your own brand? Did you feel a lot of pressure?
I think that after taking time out of any career, as a mum returning to work it can be daunting. So, I certainly felt a bit unsure having been out of the fashion industry for a few years, but I loved designing again and being creative. It was great to get that buzz and I enjoyed the excitement of being involved at every stage of creating the collection; sketching, pattern cutting, selecting fabrics and prints, overseeing production. Working for a big organisation is very different because you focus on one part or the process. I think when you are involved in the entire process of creating a garment, it’s more satisfying to see the finished product.
You design garments including dress and tops for women and girls, do you see the brand adding more to the ranges?
Yes, I would like to extend our collection to be multi-product as we continue to grow. For our first seasons collection I focused on what I know best, which is dresses and we've added tops this season, which I hope will do well. We also offer a selection of matching mini-me girls dresses, which is an excellent way of using up excess fabric.
Is there anything you can tell us about upcoming collections?
Yes, we are excited to be working with an additional Fairtrade supplier for Autumn/Winter 2020 and have some lovely stretch modal dresses to add to our collection.
Sustainability in brands now, is something that is almost a must. It means a lot of research into the fabrics and the sourcing of them. This can be quite a lot of work. Do you think we will ever get to a stage where this will become easier? Do you think we will ever have a global cooperation to help brands put sustainable practices in a lot easier? Or do you think some brands are just too lazy at the moment to become more sustainable?
I have certainly found it hard to source sustainable fabrics in small quantities at a price point that allows us to be competitively priced. I think in the industry there is a growing desire for more sustainability and The Sustainable Angle has seen growing numbers attending their Future Fabrics Expo. But I think there needs to be further education and an increase in the number of consumers that are willing to pay more for sustainable products.
What do you think the future holds for Jenerous?
I hope that Jenerous will continue to grow in popularity and as a result be able to positively impact many more lives, and raise awareness of the ethical and sustainable issues related to the fashion industry. As part of the Ethical fashion movement brands like Jenerous are working towards a better fashion industry, where people and the environment are the priority, rather than profit.
Your brand has a very wholesome feel, was this something you were looking to have for the brand?
Yes, I always wanted to be a brand that strives to use fashion as a force for good, and to demonstrate that fashion can be done better.
Your story is one that many people would admire, developing your brand whilst bringing up two young children. How have you found this?
Juggling work and home life has been challenging, especially things like being away from my family while I travel to see suppliers in India. But working for myself has also fitted in well around my family, giving me flexibility to be there when my children need me. At the moment with home schooling, it is especially challenging!
In just three words, how would you sum up your brand?
Ethical, stylish, affordable
Thank you for your time.
Thanks so much for the opportunity to share my story.