10 women-led Indian sustainable brands that are making a difference

D. Krishna Prasad
·Contributor
·8-min read
sustainable brands

The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries after oil, and also the second-largest water consumer in the world. For instance, nearly 7500 liters of water is required to manufacture a pair of jeans, which is equal to the average water consumed by one person for 7 years. In a bid to bring a change in the fashion landscape, both environmental and social-wise, several brands started incorporating sustainability into their enterprise system.

There was a time when fashion was merely a dress-to-impress game, but today, people see brands (clothing, beauty, styling) from an environmental perspective. Those who keep complaining that millennials are spending a lot are the ones who are promoting sustainability by purchasing eco-friendly products. Down the line, the sustainable fashion market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9.1 percent, from $6.35 billion in 2019 to $9.81 billion in 2025, and followed by $15.17 billion in 2030.

Whether it’s a vegan-leather bag or cruelty-free skincare product, this paradigm shift in the fashion space will not only result in the reduction of carbon footprint but also help brands design unique products that stick to ethical standards and pay attention to finer details. So without any further ado, yet in a male-dominant business world, be it decor, beauty, skin-care, fashion, here are 10 female-led Indian brands that you must know, who are making a difference in the sustainable space.

BROKE MATE

Founded by Rumika Sharma, also the Designer & Director, BROKE MATE is a Peta Approved Vegan certified brand committed to offering cruelty-free made products to its target customers without compromising on luxury and style. Perched on the philosophy of promoting love and also ethically made in India, this homegrown label offers a wide range of vegan bags that are not only eco-friendly but also affordable too.

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If you are looking for bags that are somewhat minimalist and modern, Broke Mate is your online mate. For more details about the brand and its offerings, kindly explore their website here.

EARTH RHYTHM:

Harini Sivakumar, also a mom, is the Founder & CEO of EARTH RHYTHM. While on a hunt for non-cosmetic products, Harini found it challenging to find one in the organic sphere. Her constant look for healthier cosmetic products gave her the calling for this natural sustainable brand. Started in 2018, and aided by her father Siva Kumar, Former Business Banking Head of Royal Bank of Scotland, Earth Rhythm is devoted to non-toxic, plastic-free, and zero waste. All their products were Ecocert Certified and are made from plants, herbs, flowers, fruits, vegetables put together.

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The empowering part of the brand is that its employees consist of women from economically weaker sections of the society and disabled people suffering from autism and down syndrome. They offer products such as air butters, shampoo bars, body soaps, solid perfumes, natural deodorants, makeup products, etc. For more details about the brand and its offerings, kindly explore their website here.

ECOPLORE

Set up in 2016 by Prerna Prasad, a journalist cum social activist turned social entrepreneur, ECOPLORE is a Ghaziabad-based startup that offers holiday stay options at exotic yet eco-friendly destinations. Moreover, this startup wants people to relish their accommodation at eco-friendly hotels while relishing the serene surroundings around them.

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This brand also aims to foster eco-tourism and put a stop to ecological demolition spawned by humans. Having been recognized by WEE Foundation, IIT Delhi, and IIM Calcutta Innovation Park in 2018, the efforts to bring a change in the stay culture have strengthened since then. So far, Ecoplore has 120 different eco stays to book your next holiday. For more details about the hotel stays and their offerings, kindly explore their website here.

JODI

The name of the brand defines “pair”. Unlike fast-fashion clothing brands like Zara or H&M, they wanted to build something Indian that involves traditional craft infused with fashion. That’s when Karuna Laungani and Gauri Verma co-founded this home-grown platform JODI in 2015. The brand was born out of mutual love for crafts, fashion, and travel with a fad approach. Previously, both the entrepreneurs worked with ELLE and leaped thereafter to build this clothing label that proponents sustainability in their hand-crafted products.

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Their creations are made using 100% natural Indian textiles with stunning hand block printing patterns spread across the togs. You can see a mix of collections like Jodi Silk, Afrikana, Orient Express, and many others. Some of the decorated patterns that you get to see on the dresses are pineapples, cats, paper kites, floral shapes, and other graphic visuals. They also have this Zero Waste Project to where they make completely new attires using left-over fabrics entwined together with their hand. For more details about the brand and its offerings, kindly explore their website here.

MEMERAKI

This is India's online art startup that connects artisans and contemporary fashion. Started by Yosha Gupta in 2017, MEMERAKI offers several products under various categories such as Clutches and Bags, Paintings, Home and Decors, and Masks and Stools. Inclined towards art as their primitive function, MeMeraki’s team consists of 100 artisans for designing all their products. On top of that, they also educate artisans by teaching them several art forms like Kashmir Chinar, Pichwai Art, Gond, Miniature Paintings, Kerala Mural, etc.

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For manufacturing their products, they use eco-friendly raw materials like vegan cork and ethical leather that are procured from certified suppliers. To bring back the age-old art into the country, and support artisans in a way, this brand is certainly a ray of hope in bringing that positive change in the sustainable ecosystem. For more details about the brand and its offerings, kindly explore their website here.

MIX MITTI

Founded by Shivani Bajpai, MIX MITTI is another green label that is contributing to Mother Earth in sustainable ways. Entered into the markets in December 2019, all their products were etched with original prints of the wildlife, captured by Shivani, who’s also a photographer, along with other popular wildlife photographers occasionally. They are also a PETA-approved vegan brand, offering a wide range of products including travel bags, postcards, laptop cases, notebooks, and backpacks.

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All their products are travel-friendly, multi-functional, and can be used for everyday purposes. Materials they use in the process to keep their products eco-friendly are cotton canvas, duck canvas, hemp fabric, woolen felt, and jute. The best part of purchasing from Mix Mitti is that a certain amount of profits is employed to animal welfare organizations. For more details about the brand and its offerings, kindly explore their website here.

OKHAI

Headed by Kirti Poonia, this sustainable fashion brand was first started as SHGs in 1996 by a group of rural women from the Okhamandal region, Gujarat, India. Tata Chemicals Society for Rural Development (TCSRD) came up with an idea to support these local rural women by employing them in creating traditional handicrafts work and generate income opportunities through an established route - and that gave rise to OKHAI.

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So far, 2300 rural artisans became independent and are making monthly income from anywhere between Rs 500 to Rs 16,000 based on their skills and the pace they work. To date, about 470 families were happy about the spike in income levels. In the next five years, OKAHI aims to reach more than 5000 women, which approximately benefit around 8000-10000 people. However, the brand spares no effort to create awareness of the beauty of traditional handicrafts present in India. For more details about the brand and its offerings, kindly explore their website here.

PAIO

Founded by Shweta Nimkar in 2016, this Mumbai-based designer footwear brand, PAIO offers products that are sustainable, PETA-certified, vegan, and cruelty-free. The brand has various styles of footwear whose range includes heels, juttis, sliders, flats, and boots.

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Best of all, you can find your favorite footwear occasion-wise. All of their products are made from sustainable raw materials: faux-leather, hemp, cotton, jute, faux-silks, etc. For more details about the brand and its offerings, kindly explore their website here.

SIROHI

Founded by Gauri Gopal Agrawal, Founder, and Director, the Muzaffarnagar-based enterprise, SIROHI is a luxury sustainable brand for home and decor products. They started their journey in 2019 with one woman named Gauhar Fatma, who’s good at weaving charpais. Today, they have 200 women working for them, financially independent, and are earning from anywhere between 800 rupees a month to almost 5500 rupees a month. They use their existing skillsets to handcraft a range of high-quality products, such as benches, outdoor seating, planters, chairs, stools, bags, etc.

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All their products are entirely weaved from natural materials like cotton, jute fibers, upcycle plastic, and textile waste that is sourced locally. A very strong brand of sustainable values, Sirohi has positively impacted the lives of several women from low and middle-income backgrounds and aided them to become financially sound and sustainably-balanced. For more details about the brand and its offerings, kindly explore their website here.

SOVA

To incorporate Ayurvedic solutions into Hair and Skincare products, Vasavdatta Gandhi and Sneha Daftary started SOVA, a Mumbai-based luxury personal care brand, in January 2018. The brainchild behind the formulations of SOVA is Vasavdatta’s father-in-law, HI Gandhi, who’s also the founder of Millennium Herbal Care, a brand that has strong roots in Ayurveda. SOVA is into all sorts of personal care having Sneha Daftary, Creative head of Vous Salon, and a leading makeup artist and hairstylist with tons of experience in hand.

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They offer 15 products in diverse categories - from hair oils to hair serum to conditioners - just name it. Having a full disclosure policy, all the products of SOVA have ingredients inscribed on the label itself, which asserts to be 100 percent organic. For more details about the brand and its offerings, kindly explore their website here.

More stories on Women & Health and Women & Wealth — Yahoo India's special on International Women's Day 2021, here.

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