By Mariavittoria Scala
Jan 22, 2016
Despite the economic turmoil of the recent years and the uncertain times we live in, there are moments in our lives when we decide to embrace change, no matter the risk.
That moment for us came not long ago, when we decided to found an ethical boutique by the name of Lost in Samsara. Samsara, for those not familiar with the term, means in Sanskrit “wandering through” and it exists because we all tend to fixate only on ourselves, ending up doing the same things over and over expecting different results.
So, to start doing things differently, we decided it was time to make a positive contribution and start changing not just the way we live, but the lives of the people we can reach. Our aim? Contribute to break the cycle of unsustainable production and embrace a journey, with all of those who are already walking it, of collaboration and mutual learning.
Leaving a permanent job for the unknown was easier but scarier than thought. We ended up in a complete new world, full of inspirational people, projects and loads of more work to do.
The ethical market is still, unfortunately, a niche market, talking mainly to the so-called ethical consumers. Gaining ground requires providing contents, raising awareness, using marketing to spread the word and, of course, generate sales. To do all that, we needed to learn, fast. SEO, bounce rates, social media, content creation, website management, landing pages etc.
To be honest, with a little budget and being just the two of us, it is really easy to get lost, overwhelmed and come back to the same very routine and frame of mind we had just left behind. Most of all, it is easy to forget why we are doing all this in the first place, to lose the focus on what we are actually trying to achieve.
So, from time to time, we need to stop and ask ourselves questions: are we still working to improve the lives of the people we collaborate with? Are we still working to demonstrate that a sustainable way of production is viable for both people and the environment? Are we still working to create more jobs in the countries we are working in?
We have found that refocusing on this questions keeps us going despite all the difficulties that running a company has, especially at the beginning.
In the busiest of the moments, we like to stop and reread some of the artisans’ stories. One of those positive stories we all with our work contribute to tell, like this one of Najma.
Najma was born in the city of Saidpur, Bangladesh, where she also grew up and got married. She has four children, three daughters and a son.
Najma’s last six years of weaving and sewing for Saidpur Enterprises, has enabled her to earn enough to take care of her entire family which includes purchasing food and sending her children to school. She is the main source of income for her family as her husband, who works as a barber, has a daily wage of 50 Taka, equivalent to only $0.67 USD, not enough to sustain the entire family.
For a long time, Najma and her family have been living in a refugee camp, but with the dividend she receives from her share in the co-operative she has begun to rebuild the brick walls of her family home, where they hope to soon move and to provide education to all of her children.
In the end, what are we all if not walking stories under the sun?