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Gants Hill woman sets up fair trade company after travelling around the world

PUBLISHED: 16:12 25 April 2017 | UPDATED: 16:12 25 April 2017

Harjit Sohotey-Khan, the Director of Jewelled Buddha.

Harjit Sohotey-Khan, the Director of Jewelled Buddha.

Archant

A 46-year-old from Gants Hill ditched her job and founded an ethical clothing and accessories company after taking an around the globe voyage.

Harjit Sohotey-Khan, inspired by her trip decided to form a fair trade company. All pictures Ken Mears.Harjit Sohotey-Khan, inspired by her trip decided to form a fair trade company. All pictures Ken Mears.

Harjit Sohotey-Khan, of Otley Drive, said she was fed up with the corporate world of nine to five, and bravely embarked on a multi-destination trip with her husband.

Inspired by her journey she started Jewelled Buddha – a unique fair trade company that sources handmade goods from artisans around the world.

“We decided to take the leap and give up security and responsibilty to try and discover who we are and what we wanted out of life,” she told the Recorder.

“We did a full circle of countries and the experience was life changing.”

Harjit Sohotey-Khan, the Director of Jewelled Buddha.Harjit Sohotey-Khan, the Director of Jewelled Buddha.

On her exploration, Harjit travelled off the beaten path, through remote villages and saw women weaving goods for sale.

The scene “planted the seed” for her company and inspired her to form Jewelled Buddha.

When she got home she researched social enterprises and got in touch with a co-operative in India.

“I have always had an interest in fair trade,” Harjit explained.

“The women in the co-operatives are marginalised for a whole host of reasons, but they are trained in ancient arts, enabling them to work in safe flexible conditions and sell their work to provide for their family.”

Harjit said India has lot of social issues and women in villages are often made to stay at home and look after their children.

It was important for her to set flexible working hours so mothers could carry on with their commitments but yet still learn and produce “artisan” products.

“These days it is all about fast fashion with western companies churning our new designs every few months,” she said,

“They are all cheap items and there is no respect of clothing and the people who make them – people are suffering as a result.”

“At Jewelled Buddha the women turn vintage saris into luxury products, they are 100 per cent hand made and the garment is signed by the person who made it. Each artist gets a fair wage.”

Visit jewelledbuddha.com

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