To paraphrase the French epicure Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, if you are what you eat, you are also what you wear! Fashion business owners Jeanine Glöyer and Carolin Hofer believe that what we eat, see, click, wear and do must be aligned with our core values. This is probably why the imprint on every piece of their fashion label Jyoti Fair Works, an Indo-German sustainable collaboration, has the complete backstory of the garment.
So successful is their business that in 2021, they decided to expand their operations at their newest sewing unit in Old City, Hyderabad, with Sunandha R, their Indian counterpart. She is a techie from Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, who is passionate about community service and is keen to work on women's livelihood projects. Sunandha happened to listen to Jeanine's TedX talk and connected with her.
Jeanine and Carolin, both in their '30s known by their first names in the industry, take their imprint seriously. For example, click on the blouse Prakash Midnight Blue on their portal and be informed that "The blue and white patterned Ikat fabric is handwoven in the small Indian hamlet Pochampally in Telangana... The wonderfully soft, patterned fabrics are made available to us by the Indian fashion label Translate who are dedicated to the revival of the Ikat craft. Prakash was cut and sewn in our production unit in Chittapur (Karnataka)."
Jeanine, who has always been interested in fashion and graduated in International Relations and Labour Rights from SOAS London, came to India on sabbatical in February 2007. Her dentist told her about an NGO run by women in Chittapur. Jeanine volunteered to work with them and stayed on for eight months.
The women from Chittapur who were in need of jobs developed the idea of a small Indo-German fashion label together with Jeanine. This was how Jyoti Fair Works started. In 2010, she started the fashion label which moved to a co-working space in Neukölln, Berlin.
The target group is woke customers who love to wear cruelty-free, ethically sourced clothing. Caroline, her friend and the second CEO, joined the label in 2014 to handle operations of the textile value chain in India.
Jyoti Fair Works was also an active participant in the Instagram campaign called #WhoMadeMyClothes in April 2021. "We were proud to talk about every single step of the source of the material and the supply chain," adds Carolin.
The company, which started in 2010, began to work with Access Foundation, a women-centric NGO in Hyderabad only in January 2021. "It's the newest of our now three production units. Our designs and clients are European while the fabric is Indian," reveals Carolin.
With an annual turnover of 300,000 euros, they are excited to have four young women dedicated to working exclusively for their brand at the NGO facility which has 40 sewing machines for their livelihood project in Hyderabad. Sunandha currently looks after training, quality, quantity, and the post-production work in Hyderabad.
The Jyoti Fair Works creations are crafted in three stitching workshops in India where they work in close cooperation with over 20 women and local NGOs Jyothi Seva Kendra in Chittapur; Nava Chetana Kendra in Londa, Karnataka; and Access Foundation in Hyderabad, Telangana.
"Here socially disadvantaged women get an education as seamstresses, permanent employment, opportunities for training, health checks, and a fair salary. Along the whole supply chain, we work with small family businesses and cooperatives. They weave, print, and craft our fabrics with traditional techniques," explains Carolin.
The three partners are familiar with the working conditions of women in India and keep the working hours in the sewing centres flexible. They also offer interest-free and subsidised loans in health and education to their seamstress. Jyoti Fair Works, they believe, has to live up its name at every stage.