The innovation here is the concept of fair trade and zero waste. Ethic Attic, the organization interviewed, uses naturally sourced fibers like organic cotton, linen, Eri silk (non-violent silk), bamboo, and banana fiber along with lotus fabric generated from lotus stems which can be used as a substitute for silk. This helps in solving SDG 1, No poverty, SDG 8, Decent Economic Work and Economic Growth, and SDG 12, Responsible Consumption and Production. They are also Fair Trade certified and follow all the ten principles of Fair Trade.
Goa Institute of Management
Ethic Attic was started in 2015, by Rema Sivaram and Pradeep Krishnappa at Bangalore. They offer a wide range of apparel made from natural fibers like organic cotton, linen, Eri silk (non-violent silk), bamboo, and banana fiber along with lotus fabric generated from lotus stems. This follows the Sustainable Development Goal 12, Responsible Consumption and Production.
They work directly with artisans and craftsmen to avoid middlemen to help the artisans be aware of the fair-trade standards. Their production units are mostly women-empowerment projects with women workers from economically-challenged backgrounds who are given training and employment. This follows the Sustainable Development Goals, No Poverty, and Decent Economic Work and Economic Growth. The weavers, producers, and makers are paid fair wages and work in fair working conditions. Fair pay here means a reasonable amount being paid for the work they do.
They have also collaborated with about 28 other sustainable brands and zero waste alternatives throughout India and house their products in their store for sale across different categories like food, menstrual care, accessories, stationery, and jewelry.
Their initial idea was to connect the fair-trade buyers with fair trade artisans and craftsmen due to the rich pool of weavers available in India which was later amalgamated with the Sustainable Development Goals and are currently working on three Sustainable Development Goals as mentioned above.
One of the Co-Founders, Pradeep Krishnappa, has been a member of the Fair Trade Forum, India for eight years and has a long history of working with textiles. When they initially started Ethic Attic back in 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals were still not adopted and they mainly focused on fair-trade.
“With the company already following the fair-trade standards, which overlapped with some of the Sustainable Development Goals, we organically embraced them over time,” said Rema Sivaram.
The founders wanted to not only make sustainable clothing more accessible to people but also to offer local artisans zero wastage and fair wages. They realized that the new concept of slow fashion and the usage of natural fibers had a wide market and wanted to give the customers a platform for sustainable shopping.
They have also implemented these practices in building their store in Bangalore. All the furniture is made from recycled pinewood crates, the carry bags offered are made out of recycled newspaper and the tags are made out of paper made from cotton waste.
Ethic Attic along with all this, conducts workshops, talks, and awareness programs to talks to people about adopting a sustainable and zero-waste lifestyle. “Sustainability is a lot of small choices that we make in our everyday life, it is not just saying no to a plastic bottle or carrying your own bag. Be conscious about what you consume in your daily life, your clothes, food, what you drink, or whatever you buy, look at where it reaches even after you stop using it. Try to consume consciously and try using products that are more people-friendly and planet-friendly, which will ultimately reduce your carbon footprint” advised Rema Sivaram when asked about how one can shift to living more sustainably.
“I think we are at a point where even the understanding of sustainability is at a new and emerging stage. To understand and even know that Sustainability Development Goals exist is not common unless people are educated about it,” said Rema Sivaram. Ethic Attic has conducted a lot of workshops and weekend pop-ups where they have initiated conversations around sustainability. They have conducted them on different platforms where they could reach out to a new set of audience and educate them about living sustainably.
Sivaram says that what they could achieve through their organization is to initiate conversations and thoughts around sustainability and fair trade. Ethic Attic has not only helped customers in having a better understanding of sustainability but has also helped smaller brands who are promoting sustainability to have a platform to sell their products and reach their market segment.
With the advent of Covid-19, Ethic Attic has launched a project called “Project Hennu” (Hennu being ‘woman’ in Kannada) which is a social initiative project to help empower women artisans from the urban slums of Bangalore who were on the lookout for livelihood during the pandemic. They have adopted a small production unit that trains the women and helps them make masks, Christmas decorations, and garments keeping zero waste and sustainability in mind. This project has helped in impacting the lives of around 25-30 women and their families.
This has impacted the lives of many local artisans and has also helped in educating many people about Sustainable Development Goals. They plan to continue to conduct workshops and weekly pop-ups to spread the word and make people more aware of the concept of sustainable living in the long run.
With the buzz about sustainable living growing, Ethic Attic has been able to support smaller enterprises who wanted to be sustainable and fair trade. They concentrated on small designers who wanted to shift towards sustainable fashion. They brought such designers and organizations into the light so that there is the promotion of sustainable living.
They have been able to source reusable and sustainable masks in the times of Covid-19 with “Project Hennu” (Hennu being ‘woman’ in Kannada) which has not only been helpful to Ethic Attic but also in empowering the women workers under it. “The project has been doing well in this point of time supporting about 25-30 women and about 5 men. We started with masks but have now also migrated to high-value designer garments being exported to Australia,” said Pradeep Krishnappa.
They are trying to increase the number of people being supported through this project given the difficult situations of a pandemic that we are facing right now. They have a diverse product line with innovative products and age-old products. One of their innovative products is Longpi pottery which is a traditional Manipuri black stone pottery. It is hand-molded, with no glaze, color, or any external chemicals. They have also been successful in helping even well-established brands reach out to the right people.
Krishnappa says “Sustainability is a niche market, especially in India. When it comes to business in this industry, there are some lost opportunities in making money. But in the long term, we are able to hit higher numbers. It may take a year or two more to match the non-sustainable competitors, but the journey is much more satisfying.”
Ethic Attic has helped a lot of weavers and textile artisans produce what is in demand. The artisan sector being largely unorganized, they have bridged some of the gaps by making them more market-ready. With large organizations mistreating the talented artisans, they have helped them get fair pay. They have also been able to help them in meeting the standards of international buyers. They can empower these craftsmen in leading a better life. Their new project, “Project Hennu” (Hennu being ‘woman’ in Kannada) is also a new initiative to support women workers in the time of Covid-19. Being a fair-trade certified organization benefits the workers associated with them.
With the mainstream fashion industry mass-producing garments at lower prices making people buy more, Ethic Attic has embraced slow fashion. With the usage of organic, natural fibers like organic cotton, linen, Eri silk (non-violent silk), bamboo, and banana fiber along with lotus fabric generated from lotus stems, they are contributing towards slow fashion, in turn, reducing consumption of non-biodegradable synthetic fibers.
Pradeep Krishnappa, one of the Co-Founders says that they are consciously trying to reduce the carbon footprint and the amount of waste they are putting into landfills.
With three Sustainable Development Goals being followed, Ethic Attic has helped a lot of artisans lead a better life benefitting the society of craftsmen and textile artisans. They are also benefitting the environment by producing less waste with slow fashion. They have also implemented these practices in their store with their furniture made out of recycled pinewood crates, their carry bags made out of recycled newspaper, and their tags made out of cotton waste.
Rema Sivaram, Co-Founder
Pradeep Krishnappa, Co-Founder
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Bangalore, Karnataka, IN
Business Website: https://www.ethicattic.com
Year Founded: 2015
Number of Employees: 2 to 10