There’s a lot of talk about traceable products in the clothing industry. We were impressed by the great work being done by some companies to improve a terrible history of exploitation, and wanted to see how we could mimic this trend to assist in our goal to use transparency to increase social cohesion in these communities with a history of conflict. Our passion to find quality products took us to different parts of India in search of the highest quality organic cotton and manufacturing in order to make our famous Coexist T-shirts. We needed to make sure that the entire supply chain was environmentally friendly, helping farming families and strengthening their communities at the same time.
After finding the best source quality cotton at Chetna Organic, we were recommended by our friends there that the highest quality organic certified, cooperative mill was in Kolkata, of all places. The capital city of the Indian state of West Bengal is a complex and turbulent place where divides of every sort, religious, cultural, caste, political and socio-economic, collide into each other in a chaotic manner. As the capital of many empires, including the British, It is a place of poets and saints, plague and conquest. The long and great, but often tragic history of city has been for too long a place torn apart by various internal and external conflicts.
After a roundabout flight to Kolkata, we scrambled amongst the flood of people to find a taxi, which dropped us off just outside the Rajlakshmi Mill. Though it was in an industrial area, immediately we knew that there was something different about this place. We were greeted by Rajat Jaipuria, the CEO, and his father Rajindra, who founded the factory. Rajindra, a charming host, welcomed us with a delicious meal of curry, and with bellies full, Rajat brought us on a guided tour. The factory is everything we heard about. Properly built, efficient, and a work environment where fairly treated workers turn organic cotton into wonderful designs of quality clothing. We discovered that their work force was diverse, bringing different communities of religious and caste systems together, ones that often are associated with the source of conflict. But in this place, diversity is their source of strength through teamwork. We were happy to learn that the CEO pays for his employees’ children to go to school together, and pays for their family medical expenses. It’s no wonder the employees never want to leave! They have a sustainable business with people from different backgrounds living side-by-side, and their children are in school together. It was evident, that this was the best place for us to produce or clothing and the best way to mitigate conflict in the future.
Stitch by stitch, knot by knot, they are tying their community together. In India, we learned just how important their work is in transforming their society and how by working locally with them we are able to engage in existing patterns of strengthening social cohesion so that we can offer the highest quality clothing to strengthen their community. It is a privilege to be working with the Rajlakshmi Mill knowing that our Coexist T-Shirts have such quality through and through.