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Fashion ComPassion launch

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Thursday 18th November – Fashion ComPassion is a new venture, founded by Ayesha Mustafa. We caught up with her as she launched the project at the Home & Harvey Gallery on St James’s Street in London and asked how the venture came about.

“I’ve always wanted to work with social enterprises,” she told us.”That goes back to my childhood because I’ve seen my parents do a lot of charitable work when I was growing up in Pakistan. When Iwas 17, I worked with the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. They actually pioneered microcredit and their founder, Muhammad Yunus, won a Nobel Prize for it. I saw the impact of giving the poorest of the world capital and a dream and a job, and that completely stayed with me for the rest of my life.

I did different things, worked in different corporate jobs but this was a dream of mine. Recently, I was working for Pepsi in marketing and I was doing a good job there and I though ‘Okay, if I can market the best brands in the world, why can’t I market something I’m very close to?’. So then I got onto this journey of discovering brands that are high-end, high fashion and have a social conscience. At the moment, I’m featuring four, all from the developing world – Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Middle East and Africa – and they have a very similar social mandate, which is to really empower women in marginalised communities. They teach them skills, to enhance their creative skills. The women can work from home so they’re not tampering with any social norms. They pay them money per piece, which is quite high compared to what they would get if they were to work in a factory, and they also give them a share of profits. More than that, they instil an idea of their self-worth and their creativity and the women feel really empowered. It changes the way men look at them, the way their families interact with them.

“What I want to do with Fashion ComPassion is open more markets and make sure that these brands have a future and more people see them because they truly are works of art. I want these women’s messages to be heard and people to know that they’re really like us – they’re as creative, they’re as smart but they just don’t have a platform and I want to create that for them.”

“All our products are hand-made and it takes about five weeks to make them because they don’t start until we order. It’s completely bespoke. I’m wearing a burqa dress [see left] which is in green. Somebody else ordered it in white so it’ll be manufactured to the lady’s measurements and she can put a different trimming on it if she wants.”

Currently, Fashion ComPassion is selling from their website but they plan to partner up with other charitable organisations and, eventually, with retailers. You can view the full range of products on offer through their website.

Written by Myles

November 19th, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Posted in Fashion ComPassion