Contact: Harish I. Patel | email@example.com | 312.823.0090
Local entrepreneurs bring a community organizing approach to sustainable fashion
Chicago, IL - Tuesday, August 20th - Only 5 days after launching a Kickstarter community funding campaign for their new eco-fashion venture, "ishi vest" co-founders Harishi Patel, Rhea Vitalis, and Jackie Mahendra were stunned as they tipped past their $10,000 seed funding goal. In less than one week, they had exceeded their initial seed funding goal, attracted 160 backers, and had received dozens of international orders for the sustainable, fair-trade vests.
In fact, the team raised their first $5,000 in less than 24 hours, were featured among the most popular projects on Kickstarter.com’s fashion page, and demonstrated the potential of a community organizing approach to both sustainable fashion and social entrepreneurship.
“I am blown away to see us raise all of the seed funding we set out to raise for our eco-fashion startup on Kickstarter in less than one week of launching,” said ishi co-founder Harishi Patel. “When I think about the many social justice projects I’ve founded or facilitated over the years, there's a common thread of giving people the chance to see themselves as part of the solution, even when the problems are so huge."
What had started out years ago as a powerful trip home to India for ishi co-founder, Harishi Patel, turned into the seeds of a hip, conscious clothing line with the intent to remind people about how their smallest choices can have a huge impact. Patel turned to two friends, Rhea Vitalis and Jackie Mahendra, and the three worked together to launch a company that would put people and the planet above profits.
In addition to being committed to ethical fashion, 10% of the company’s profits will be donated to sustainability efforts that customers will vote on, whether in the U.S., where the founders live, or in India, where the vests are produced.
The first step for ishi’s founders was to partner with a fair-trade certified, organic and natural-dye fabric company near Patel’s hometown in Gujarat. At the company, the fabric starts with organic seeds, is dyed naturally without chemicals, and is processed by workers in safe conditions, who are paid fair wages. With help from a local Chicago designer and friend Tamana Azizi, the “ishi vest” team refined their first prototype, a unisex vest which is being featured on Kickstarter.
All three founders have been involved in social justice and community organizing efforts in Chicago over the past decade, and they are once again calling on their community to help them reach their next milestone of $15,000. This will allow them to not only design, test, and launch their next vest, an ishi women’s signature style, but also begin the design process for a third unisex style that their Kickstarter supporters will get to vote on before it is produced.
The individuals backing ishi vest on Kickstarter are investing in more than just a hip clothing line; they are backing a vision for an alternative production process in India, which is now the world’s second largest producer of cotton and one of the largest producers of textiles and apparel, employing over 35 million people.
In India, exposure to certain pesticides has left many workers with fatal respiratory diseases, noise exposure has caused hearing loss and sleep disorders, and ergonomic issues are causing musculoskeletal disorders. Furthermore, the standard chemical dyeing process itself has been closely linked to a list of cancers that includes: nasal, lung, brain, stomach, colorectal, and testicular cancer. The ishi founders hope to model social responsibility and environmental sustainability in a country where farmer suicide rates are on the rise due to unmanageable debt, and where factory workers are often forced into dangerous working conditions.
“Right now, communities across the country are thinking deeply about their daily choices, from the food we eat to the clothes we wear,” said ishi vest co-founder Harishi Patel. “After hearing about the recent horrors in factories in Bangladesh, I am more motivated than ever to be launching a new kind of clothing company that puts people and planet before profits. We’re making beautiful, sustainable products, but we’re also rethinking consumption and asking our friends and customers to do the same...one vest at a time.”
View a video update from Harishi Patel, ishi co-founder:
View the kickstarter launch video:
www.ishivest.com | vests with benefits