You guys, we have a confession to make: we’re a little obsessed with Sudara. They have amazing clothing that’s crafted by women in India who have escaped from human trafficking, and they are the most lovely to collaborate with. We asked their Founder, Shannon, a few questions about starting the brand and how she celebrates the holidays. Check out her responses! And don’t forget to enter our Holiday Giveaway!
What was the inspiration behind founding Sudara?
I went on a humanitarian trip to India in 2005, we were donating a freshwater well to a community in need–little did I know the well was to be placed in a red light district. While we were there, I heard countless stories of ladies being forced to sell their bodies in order to feed their families and mothers who could not afford tuition fees to send their own children to school. My heart broke wide open. I realized that these women needed jobs, and started to build the vision of Sudara from there.
Have there been any catalyst events that have helped shape the company?
In 2015 we transitioned from a non profit to a B Corp with a separate non-profit arm. We realized the best opportunity to fulfill our mission of helping women and children escape sexual slavery and find a pathway to freedom was to scale the business and create more jobs. Scaling a business is very hard under the non-profit umbrella so it was necessary to have two separate entities that work together.
What are your long term goals for the company?
We want to continue to create safe, sustainable, fair wage jobs for women who are survivors of sex trafficking and show that social enterprise is a model for systemic change. I have used 10,000 women as a goal number, but I want to grow even beyond that.
What challenges have you faced along the way?
There is an education piece to this work that can sometimes be a challenge when working with customers and stakeholders. Many people are just learning about what social businesses are and they are not yet familiar with the value proposition; they might not easily appreciate that a social enterprise is an actual, profitable business that just happens to want to leverage its success to help a social cause. This hybrid of doing good and doing business requires a savvy investor who wants to make money while at the same time benefiting an important social cause.
What advice would you give to shoppers who are looking to help your cause?
Small actions add up. Systemic change comes when you consistently do a few things differently—it does not mean you have to overhaul your way of life. Being conscious about where you buy the things you need every day, asking about supply chains, and choosing wisely where you spend money will have ripple effects that change the world.
What are your favorite Thanksgiving/Holiday traditions?
My favorite holiday memories are everyone gathered at my grandparents home—I have a huge extended family there would be 4 generations for a total of 50+ people in one space playing games, watching movies, feasting and just laughing until our [full] bellies hurt.
What are your go-to things to pack with you when traveling for the holidays?
Punjammies of course — flannel if I am going somewhere cold, and cotton capri’s if headed down south to warmer destinations. For this time of year I throw in 1-2 of my favorite cashmere sweaters and cozy slippers for lounging 24/7 because that’s what holidays are for! If traveling by plane I also take essential oils to help fight off germs to stay healthy.