India

 

 Zest Inc. based in Uttar Pradesh, India, is an ethical manufacturer that specializes high end garments for socially conscious designers. They do everything from sourcing organic materials, dying, block printing and constructing high quality clothing. Sometimes people come to you when you need them most, and that was certainly the case with Zest’s owner, Shagun Verma. While we were searching for an ethical factory abroad that could handle delicate fabrics like silk, Shagun who was also seeking ethical designers to support her family factory. Shagun lived in New York for several years, attending the Fashion Institute of Technology for merchandising and worked for fashion houses in the garment district in product development and production. After her father died, she returned to India to help her mother manage the family factory and she brought with her the desire to work with conscious designers who specialize in ethical clothing. Working with a factory is so much about relationship building, trust and vision, which is why Nicole went to Delhi with her seven year-old son. The factory, which employs 11 people, is clean, airy and beautiful, with chai tea breaks and employees who take pride in their work. Nicole could see how much Shagun appreciates her staff and her passion for collaborating with clients. She even invited Nicole and her son to create their own custom block print. Going to India and seeing first hand the need for infrastructure, good wages and education solidified Nicole’s resolve to do more ethical fashion in India, so that the next generation can thrive. It also strengthened her relationship with Shagun – a visionary who Nicole believes she can grow old with.

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