Ninety Percent of Founders Share Their Inspiration

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Para

My Mom & Dad

My mother Sudha Mookerjee is a painter, plays the violin, sings and is a very spiritual soul. He comes from the Tagore family in Bengal in India and his great-uncle was Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, who gave him names and taught him to sing his songs. Besides culture and etiquette, one of the most important lessons my mother taught me was that kindness should be the keystone of one’s life. My father Ajit Mookerjee is a writer, educator, archaeologist, anthropologist and Director of the National Crafts Museum of India in Delhi. He pioneered by writing about the science and philosophy of Tantra which has inspired an international generation in the arts and media. The influence my parents had on me in art and design from my childhood was immense and it led me to study exhibition design, then, working with architects in London, before I ventured into clothing and fashion, strongly encouraged by Tom Singh, founder of New See Retailer.

Wildlife in India and Kenya

Visiting wildlife sanctuaries in India and Kenya since the 1980s had an indelible impact on my outlook on life. Experiencing and seeing the endangered wildlife and incredible tribal heritage of these two countries helped me find my purpose: Planet That Comes First.

Shafiq

Meet My People, My Muse!

I met Para in 1987, who was electric, when we both worked for the same company in London that supplied high-end shops. The guys enlightened me about wildlife, organic food, world music, and art. He was the first to tell me directly that “Planet Comes First”. As we exchanged ideas, between aesthetic, social and environmental topics, it became clear that, whatever we did together, it would be something we truly believed in. In 1996, Para and I founded our own garment sourcing company called Echo Sourcing in London.

Dhaka’s children

In the early 1990s, during a shopping trip to Bangladesh, I had an experience I will never forget. I used to travel daily to Narayanganj, a city south of the capital Dhaka, to visit garment manufacturing units and textile factories. Every day I have to pass by the city’s garbage dumps and watch the children make a living from it. The stench of 500 meters in the car was so sickening that it made me wonder how they could do this. Para and I decided to do something about it. In April 2000, we formed Children’s Hope in Bangladesh which provides comprehensive assistance to disadvantaged slum children and their families in education, nutrition and health care. Most of Ninety Percent’s garments are made at our textile factory and factory, Echotex, in Bangladesh. Echotex is built on three pillars: Planet People Product.

Within six months of operating, we were awarded the Bangladesh National Environmental Award for 2010. Today, Echotex is considered one of the largest LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified factories in the world. It is the first textile mill in Bangladesh to be a contributor to the Road Map to Zero, certified Platinum on The Higg Index and a Fair Trade certified manufacturing unit. This year we are in the process of potentially becoming the first textile mill in Bangladesh to have Zero Liquid Discharge, with 96 percent of our water for recycling and 4 percent for evaporation.

Shafiq & Para

Experiencing Live 8 & Making Poverty History

In 2005 Live 8 happened, Make Poverty History was in full swing and people lined up to reduce Third World Debt. It was an important year for us and we began to question how much business was run and how government was intertwined—lobbying and rot. We feel the traditional business model is about taking and not giving back, to both the planet and its inhabitants. Because we only knew clothes and fashion, we started a fashion brand that had to challenge the status quo; based on contemporary products made to last, sustainably sourced, giving 90 percent of profits redistributed to the people who make the clothes and five causes focused on social and environmental justice: Big Life Foundation, Brac, Child Hope, Children of War & Wild Help.

Meet Nick Brandt and the Big Life Foundation

Nick Brandt is a huge inspiration to us, someone who gave up making music videos to give his life to documenting ecocide. Met him on several occasions and experienced his amazing and stunning photography that gave us goosebumps. We found out about their charity, Big Life Foundation, and visited their project in Kenya to see the phenomenal work their organization is doing. Without a lot of funding, Big Life is reducing wildlife hunting significantly, we want to do what we can to support it and this great cause.

Brac founder, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed

Brac works globally with more than 150 million people and is currently the largest NGO. Speaking to the great founder Sir Fazle Hasan Abed on many occasions is an invaluable privilege. He educates us on the vision of challenging the inherent system by creating opportunity by empowering women, men and children to hold onto their destiny to overcome poverty, against all odds. He once said: “Small is beautiful but without scale there is not much impact”. We have been humbled by Sir Fazle’s inspiration in our lives and it cannot be overstated and has had a tremendous impact on us.

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