Let’s hear it. What’s the origin story of your social enterprise. How did it all start?
The vision for The Good Tee was originally conceived in 2008 when founder Adila Cokar, a responsible apparel manufacturing consultant, was on a sourcing trip in India and read about the ongoing issue of farmers in India committing suicide. Since 1995, more than 270k cotton farmers in India alone have committed suicide. After learning this, there was no turning back. With high levels of illiteracy and limited land holdings, many cotton farmers live in poverty - their sparse livelihoods dependent on middlemen or Ginners who often buy their cotton at prices well below the cost of production. After learning this, there was no turning back. The Good Tee was born. From seed to delivery, fashion - particularly so-called “fast fashion - is known to hurt the planet and the people that produce our goods. Adila’s strong relationships with apparel factories have brought her face to face with the many struggles factories face in the race to get goods shipped on time. That’s why The Good Tee champions responsible manufacture - slower production schedules, ethical working conditions, and fair deals for all. After receiving Fairtrade certification, Adila made it her mission to make it easier for consumers and businesses to source the kind of supply chain which supports responsibly manufactured apparel.
What’s next for your social enterprise?
We just launched this year, and happy to become B Corp certified. We are working on some really cool fair trade face masks, eye masks, natural soap, focus on the good malas and new products for the Christmas season. Stay tuned.
What is your favourite social enterprise/impact brand and why?
People Tree! I love Safia Minney and the brand she created. I came across Safia Minney on a factory visit to back in 2011. I stumbled across some samples being made in the sampling department, just as they were getting the finishing touches. I was instantly drawn to the beautiful garment – it had radiating energy to it. So I had to ask, "What label is this?" The factory told me it was made for People Tree and went on to rave about Safia. I was intrigued to learn more, so when I got back home, I Googled her. According to her Wikipedia page, “Safia Minney is a British social entrepreneur and author. She is the founder of People Tree, a pioneering sustainable and Fair Trade fashion label with a mission to provide customers with beautiful clothes.” This is how I discovered Safia Minney, and I’ve followed her ever since.
What is your biggest achievement to date?
My biggest achievement today was releasing my book. The Source My Garment book offers entrepreneurs a step by step guide on how to manufacture responsibly offshore. It was four years in the making. I want to make it easier for brands to know how to work with really amazing factories overseas that need our support. I wish I had a book like this when I was starting out! Little to zero information on this subject for startups.
What is ONE piece of advice you can give to people who want to create a brand around a social mission?
Jane Goodall said it best: “What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make.” Sustainability means different things to different people. Understand your values and integrate them into your brand.
How do you deal with failures? Disappointments? When things don't work out as planned?
I take it a learning opportunity. Mistakes happen and the best thing you can do is learn from it, and do your best going forward. Dwelling too much on mistakes never is a good idea:)