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How easy or difficult is it to do business in India?
Every business has its own set of challenges. Mandala Apparels has its own challenges, being in the niche business area of sustainability and organic fashion (even this is gradually becoming mainstream). We always come up with contingency plans to tackle situations positively and amicably.
How do you market the company and its products?
The marketing strategies of Mandala Apparels are a bridge between traditional and modern strategies. So, our key areas of focus are social media marketing, presence in sustainable forums, public relations, digital word of mouth, trade fairs, etc. Having said that, our products speak volumes on behalf of our company. I would say that is the strongest marketing strategy of them all.
What are your observations on the government's plan to amend the Handloom Act which lists goods and textiles reserved for production by traditional crafts and weavers and offers incentives to them?
I think it is a good initiative by the government.
Please tell us about your association with Chetna Organic and IL&FS Education? How does it help the company?
Mandala Apparels has committed to Chetna Organics to buy 70MT of organic cotton for the year 2016-17. It helps the company to sustain a transparent supply chain, pricing strategies and direct working relationship with farmers. Mandala Apparels has been creating employment for women from underprivileged background by providing them a two-month training programme prior to employing them.
These training programmes are conducted in-house by the company's team as well as in partnership with IL&FS (India's largest training company, whose development methodology is holistic in approach by incorporating training, job linkages, community engagements, counseling and selection tests, all of which find resonance with Mandala's values and processes.) This initiative to train and offering jobs to women helps them acquire financial independence.
What are your CSR activities?
I would like to replace the word CSR with ESR (environmental social responsibility) - because those initiatives that come under the umbrella of CSR are our company's core values. We base everything on those. So, the initiatives include educating women to be financially secure, providing job opportunities that eradicate unemployment in the surrounding areas, waste management, training programmes for semi-skilled/ unskilled members to give them a fair chance in taking up jobs, facilitating special schools with clothing whenever possible, etc.
What are the future plans for the company?
As impact itself is of greater importance to the company, scaling up the company is imperative. Through our training programmes, we would like to reach out to more women and our commitment to organic farmers enables us to increase sustainable organic farming practices as well. We also want to introduce innovative fibres and fabrics with a technological edge, and enter new international markets for exports.
Which category brings you more business?
Garments for adults comprises 51 per cent of our business while kidswear is 46 per cent.
What are your R & D activities?
We are working with weavers, dyers and printers to create novel fabrics. So, most of our research goes into this; besides, we are also trying to use recycled/upcycled fabric and also creating them. We experiment with colours that we can obtain on these fabrics.
How many factories do you have?
I have one factory now and I'm looking at expanding this.
Does the company develop/weave organic textiles too?
Yes, we develop organic textiles with our suppliers.
Is the company employing any innovative techniques in design production, etc?
We are working on innovative techniques with weavers, but as far as design production is concerned, the buyers provide that and we follow those.
Would you like to say anything more about your company?
Mandala Apparels is dedicated to creating a holistic approach to business that would sustain circular design in the fashion industry. Currently, our production constitutes 65 per cent of organic production, 5 per cent of non-organic, 2 per cent of eco-tex and 28 per cent of fair trade organic production. We are looking forward to escalating this strategically. Moreover, we are working on new strategies to strengthen our new market penetration. This would enable us not only to upscale business, but also facilitate more employment opportunities for local communities. Our training and skill development programmes help us build a robust bridge in achieving this vision. Mandala Apparels' ESR is a conscious business approach. It is a competitive edge that has helped us in achieving a transparent sustainable supply chain and establishing working relationships with our cotton farmers. As a result of robust working relationships with our farmers, we have been able to encourage them in achieving food security through poly-cropping (mixed cultivation of other grains along with organic cotton). We adhere to the 10 principles of Fair Trade Certification, and through this our employees and their families' well-being is ensured.
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