5 Questions for Daughters of the Ganges
Daughters of the Ganges (lovingly called DOTG by all the fans) is a socially conscious brand that brings us handcrafted and ethically created jewellery from India. The brand has a strong focus on Fair Trade and Sustainability, and each of their products tells a story of how lives can be changed.
We sat down with Priyanka Vasudevan, the co-founder of this amazing brand, to ask her how this idea came to and what we can expect for DOTG in the future.
What inspired you to set-up DOTG?
Daughters of the Ganges was started by us, Kalpana and Priyanka, both born and raised in India. Having travelled through the country over the years, and seen the rich arts, crafts and culture of this large subcontinent, it never fails to shock us that some people are still living in poverty and no one gives their skills a second glance. We felt that the world should be made aware of what they can offer and we should work towards making a meaningful difference to the vulnerable and marginalised societies. To make a difference, we thought that working in the Fairtrade arena would be the most impactful thing to do. And that is how DOTG was started.
Coming from a different background career wise, were you worried about taking the plunge and setting-up your own business? What were the biggest hurdles you had to overcome?
Once we had decided that a change had to be made for our people, there was no looking back. Every small step that we have taken has been beneficial to our artisans and we hope to continue taking small steps. The biggest hurdle we have had to overcome, so far, is to bring awareness to the benefits of shopping ethical over high street products.
Take us through the sustainability and ethical side of your brand. What makes you different?
We are a sister affiliate of a WFTO certified organisation based in India. All our products are made under the guidelines of the ten Fairtrade principles. Jewellery is ethically made out of sustainably sourced and eco-friendly materials. Artisans are fairly paid and given flexible work hours. Unskilled artisans are given training to include them in the community. Additionally, all children of the community are provided after school programs to ensure that they have a bright future.
You have an amazing story, obviously you are already doing so much good in New Delhi. Are there new sustainability goals you want to reach? What are the next steps for DOTG?
DOTG is in its nascent stage and we would like to expand further in the UK and eventually in Europe as well. Currently, all our products reach the consumer in sustainable packaging, including 100% cotton pouches, handmade out of excess fabric sold in markets. With further expansion we would like to use newly earned funds to further understand how we can make every step in the jewellery making process sustainable, including the final packaging and shipment of goods to the UK, to businesses, and not just to consumers.
And lastly, who would you say are your biggest inspirations? People or businesses you look up to?
One of our biggest inspirations is Jessica Honegger of Noonday Collection in the US. She started of small and brought awareness of fair trade to the US in a big way. Closer to home, we look up to Laura Cave of JustTrade UK. She mentored us in our first meeting itself, telling us how things are done in the UK Fairtrade market. She heads the BAFTS Fairtrade Network in the UK and never fails to amaze us with her kindness and humility. Mark Bloom of Komodo Fashion is another mentor we look up to. He has pointed us in the right direction in terms of branding for ethical fashion and gave us our first big break.