As an American born Bangladeshi, I grew up spending summers in Bangladesh visiting extended family and developing an enduring connection to this tiny country, unknown to many. As a child, I heard stories of my late grandfather, once the Chief Minister of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), and his commitment to building Bangladesh into a strong and independent country. Over the years, I felt inspired by these narrations and by a family who, as business people, educators, politicians, and philanthropists in Bangladesh, in different ways, carried on his legacy.
When my family started its first garment factory in Bangladesh over twenty years ago, I didn’t think that someday I would play a role in it. Thousands of miles away in Chicago, it seemed impossible. But the thought never left my mind. During yearly trips to Bangladesh, I visited this factory and found myself enthralled by every aspect of it, from fabric knitting to sewing machines to the people who worked there. Unlike other factories in the country, ours implemented programs with a goal to lift workers and their children out of poverty and promote environmentally conscious business practices. Twenty years later, our family now owns and operates four more factories, all of which hold themselves to the same high standards as the first. All of them guided by the same core belief that profitability and ethics needn’t be mutually exclusive.
Here in the United States, my interest in fashion and garments remained, but took a backseat to other pursuits, that is, until two years ago when I decided to leave my job at a major financial institution and revisit my dream. In late 2015, I created Pure Cloth Solutions as a vehicle for connecting ethical and eco-friendly factories in Bangladesh to U.S and European brands. I believe that the clothes we wear tell a fascinating story. As consumers, we expect value, we expect exceptional products. But we should also expect fair wages and safe working conditions for the people who help create these stories. Too often, we are unaware of where our clothes come from and who makes them. I want my customers to know the full story, and I’m proud of what they will discover.
So here we are - excited, optimistic and ready to make a difference.
How about you?