Bhavini Parikh has spent many years working in the textile industry; doing everything from embroidery, to manufacturing, to design, to helping other women find employment within it. After she opened her first textile manufacturing company she was horrified by how much waste was produced. She began to research ways to utilize all the leftover waste fabric and thus Bunko Junko was born. Today the Mumbai, India-based entrepreneur is working to create true sustainable fashion while also educating others about the waste and pollution the textile industry produces, and what can be done to combat it.
Parikh’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
What was your reason for starting your business?
I am a textile artist, fashion designer and social entrepreneur who has been working in the clothing industry for the last twenty-nine years. I’ve always had the desire to do something creative within me. My journey in fashion started when I began doing textile surface ornamentation, which is embroidery work, for brands like Leela Lace, Textport Syndicate, Trikamdas & Bros amongst others. During this phase of my career I also began to work closely with other women, providing them with employment opportunities in the textile industry. I helped and trained over a thousand women get jobs in my municipality. A number of years ago, after starting my own garment manufacturing company, I began to realize how much fabric went to waste during the manufacturing process. I started thinking and researching sustainable ethical fashion, looking at a plethora of ‘waste fabric’ and seeing infinite opportunities was the kick starter.
I decided I wanted to explore this concept of what is considered ‘waste fabric’ and how we can use what is viable to reduce the amount of actual unusable waste created, all while maintaining a high quality design and production standard. In the last few years I’ve been totally focused on converting scrapes from the cutting floor to commercially viable products using environmentally friendly up-cycling and manufacturing methods.
How do you define success?
Bunko Junko is about innovating means and methods to save landfill, energy and water and ultimately support sustainability. Our mission, to create garments made out of up-cycled textiles, is our success. By increasing socio-economic productivity for youth and women in the community, improving their lives by generating income activities is success. Giving back to society is success.
Tell us about your biggest success to date.
Some of our biggest successes so far include being selected among 5000 women in ‘She Unltd’ by Bombay Times, and being selected in the top 50 finalists nationwide in a startup conclave consortium run by Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology. Giving talks, lectures and speeches to students studying the climate and fashion has also been amongst my greatest successes.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
My challenge has really been that people are not conscious about environment sustainability. So few people are aware of the fact that the textile industry is one of the highest polluting industries in the world. It is necessary and critical that we up-cycle or recycle as much as we can to try and mitigate the devastating effects of climate change.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
Many stones may come in your way, but just move to the side and keeping going ahead.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
On my darkest days I think about how important it is to be doing something with my life that is beneficial to society.
Who is your most important role model?
The Indian businessman and tycoon, Dhirubhai Ambani.
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