Shailini Sheth Amin, Founder, MORALFIBR

Shailini Sheth Amin’s company practices ethical sourcing and is currently supplying fabric to a UK based firm, among others. Her fabrics have been used in the international movie ‘Pan’ by Warner Bros and ‘Beauty and the beast’ by Walt Disney (will be releasing this year), and she recently launched “YOGA SUTRA: a range of yoga wear/gears” in association with KVIC. In the wide-spreading fast and disposable fashion markets, she is a successful, award-winning voice for sustainable textile fashion that supports people and the planet along with good fashion.

 

MORALFIBRE works to reinvent age-old handcrafted fabrics – Khadi that is unique to India, and it is an important part of world history. The making of Khadi fabrics frees the environment from pollution and depletion, free people from poverty, and creates a sustainable and circular economy. The production approach and values Khadi presents play a pioneering role in showing new ways and workable alternatives to the exploitative fashion industry of the world today.

The early phase of the pandemic was a total shock, uncertainty and worry for all of us. We went through the most heart-wrenching times of our lives in this pandemic.

This dreadful, fast-spreading virus, Covid-19, blocked our lungs, stopped us from breathing, and killed people. Breathing is what we do when we are alive; we take it for granted. And the air is free. We saw people suffering this illness, painful deaths of our dear ones helplessly. We were unable even to hold their hands to comfort them and to show we love them. Because, by mere touch, we would catch the deadly virus! Touching, loving, comforting and breathing are human, and that had become deadly.

Covid-19 has made us stay at home with our families and be alone with ourselves. We had, in fact, enhanced our social bonding, not reduced it. We have bonded more with people that matter to us. The understanding of our heroes is now drastically changed. The garbage collectors, sweepers, guards, housemaids, deliverymen, milkmen, chemists, and grocers are our true heroes. People we take for granted are supporting us the most by risking their lives. Why should there be such an income disparity between them and us anymore?!

We now understood that too much glamour and flamboyance has no meaning anymore. All that we really need is something that helps us go around to serve our utilities, healthy food, healthy home and a few comfortable tops and bottoms. No one was thinking about going to malls for shopping or going to the next exotic vacation.

The last couple of decades, living a consumerist, toxic, capitalist lifestyle, we have acquired enough ‘things’ to last us for the next few years!!

We had an opportunity to learn to appreciate what is of real value to us, to be grateful for good health, fresh air and people in our lives. We have appreciated nature and our place in it. We see that nature and our other co-inhabitants of this planet have done well when we have lived with low impact, low activity, and with low interference, just for a few weeks! How selfish and uncaring we have been by encroaching upon their space and their lives?

Covid 19 taught me and us many things that created a path of our recovery, immediate action, and future planning.

With shops, exhibitions and orders dwindling, there have been difficult times for artisans we work with. They live on orders. The lockdown here coincided with harvesting season; some of them found work, but others struggled badly. We stayed connected with hundreds of them. With consistent efforts by our team, we ran a campaign ‘SHOP TO SAVE LIVES’. That and #Conscious Living, #Conscious Giving, the messages we have been promoting for years, had become a ‘Mantra’ to many. We managed to sell more than 50,000 handcrafted masks and other products to support the artisans. Our buyers understood that and helped wholeheartedly.

With the networks and connectivity available now, we can connect virtually with people and groups; we can be almost anywhere we wish to. We have moved almost completely online, which has helped. We have evolved; it is clear that everyone’s priorities have shifted; we are all working to make sense of the new reality with new insights.

Self-care, caring for nature and people around us seems to be guiding lights?!

The second pillar of our proposition is Environmental sustainability. MORALFIBRE promotes hand spun hand woven, almost carbon neutral, pollution-free fabrics. In the past, we felt that it was difficult for our potential buyers to connect with this aspect. With this new and growing awareness, we find that this time people relate and respect to nature more. Also, there is a deeper sense of gratitude for Mother Nature. We are now working to tell the environment and carbon-neutral story in the most effective manner.

I have worked as a professional businesswoman all my life, as an architect, in finance and now as a founder and senior partner with MORALFIBRE, in India and abroad. My field of work has been in Energy efficiency and sustainable practices, conservation programs and heritage support to buildings, people and places. One faces challenges all the time; also, as a woman, not many doors open easily. We, as a society, need to have many more women entrepreneurs and professionals as role models in each field. By recognizing their contribution and giving them due public respect, we will make the prospects for a new generation of women in society better and easier. And their contribution will enrich our society and make it more balanced. This is especially important now when outside the box thinking and working is required. Our approach should be to innovate and develop products that heal us, protect the environment and care for the people. Working with women in leadership roles, this looks achievable.

World economists are already busy working at different financial recovery plans and options for the post-pandemic world. The major concerns and number crunching is about how do we bring the economy closer to our pre-pandemic planned growth-line. How do we help companies and businesses to survive and get people back to work? When the world recession is looming, how do we increase consumption again?

No one knows what the ‘new normal’ will be and what will, life after Pandemic is like.

When that ‘normal’ happens, I wish we do not forget the lessons ‘this abnormal’ has taught us. We will have to think of those who have been our backbone in difficult times. And we will have to save the lives of the poor around us. But do we get back on the same bandwagon of rushing to expand financial growth mindlessly and focus on raising GDP alone?!

The savings we make, by less income and reducing our consumption and production, we will have enough for us and help rebuild lives for others around us. The pandemic and other calamities result from the choices we have made and the life we have lived in the last few decades. Do we support mad, polluting, high-growth industries, businesses, and services that deplete our planet’s finite resources? Each of our considered and wise choices has the power to mould the most desirable future we want to be in. Live local, live light!

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