These sisters launch eco-friendly measures through their fashion jewellery brand
Whether it is glancing through racks of clothing in a sparkling new retail store or adding a slew of chic clothing and accessories to your cart online, fast fashion has been creating a buzz for many years now. However, these days, the element of sustainability, or the lack of it, in this sector is catching the attention of people, due to increased awareness levels about eco-friendly and conscious consumption.
The fashion industry is responsible for a whole lot of environmental degradation.
Kaabia and Sasha Grewal, Founders, Outhouse.
According to the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC), textile manufacturing contributed to 20 percent of the total industrial water pollution across the world. Water was not the only resource that was hit hard. Production of materials like polyester released a 706 billion kg of greenhouse gases in a span of one year alone. Jewellery making and mining on the other hand, resulted in large areas of soil contamination.
Noida-basedJewellery is attempting to offset all this and go the sustainable way by recycling old metals, manufacturing products like vegan leather bags, and also collaborating with non-governmental organisations to preserve the environment. Since its establishment in 2012 by sister duo Kaabia and Sasha Grewal, the company has gradually built and streamlined many eco-friendly initiatives.
“As part of our commitment to give back to the environment, we have sold more than 280 vegan leather bags and also designed 150 pieces of jewellery from old recycled metals in the last one year. Now, we are all set to fund the planting of 500 trees from our sales proceeds in partnership with the Centre for Environment Research and Education (CERE),” Sasha Grewal, Founder, Outhouse Jewellery tells SocialStory.
Kaabia and Sasha loved jewellery from when they were kids, an obsession spurred by their mother’s fondness for trinkets and accessories. So, after completing school, the duo decided to pursue their ambition of joining a jewellery school. While Kaabia joined Gemological Institute of America (GIA), New York, and went on to intern with Edie Borgo, Sasha learnt concepts like fine jewellery design as well as manufacturing to work with high street brands like Topshop and River Island.
Outhouse's protego chain bracelet.
“In August 2012, both of us conceived and designed a small collection together and organised an exhibition to display the jewellery. By then, Kaabia was already exploring certain export markets to sell her range of exquisite accessories. Right after the expo and launch of our products, we applied to the Lakme Fashion Week. To our surprise, people noticed its uniqueness and we made it to one of the most popular and prestigious fashion shows. That was when Kaabia and I felt a passionate need to materialise our mutual love for jewellery. Very soon, we set up Outhouse with the help of some funds from our father,” recalls Sasha.
Today, Outhouse has two retail stores, one located in Delhi and the other in Mumbai, besides its wide online presence. Kaabia and Sasha personally design and oversee the collection. The duo is known to experiment with all kinds of looks, from dramatic to minimalistic, and from classy to quirky, by using various kinds of materials like semi-precious stones, leather, and metals.
The sister-duo Sasha and Kaabia.
The company has about 80 people on board including designers, marketeers, and workers involved in production. In a span of eight years, Outhouse has carved a niche for itself in the industry. It won the Vogue Fashion Fund in 2015 and was even featured in the Forbes India 30 Under 30 list 2016.
“Sasha and I had managed to make a mark in the jewellery industry with Outhouse. However, we wanted to build success stories not only through our products, but also through our actions in a way that it can contribute to the environment. As byproducts of this ecosystem, we believed that it is every business house’s moral duty to do its bit for mother nature. Our journey started with that seed of thought,” notes Kaabia Grewal, Founder, Outhouse.
Flexing the green thumb
In the year 2018, Outhouse began making environment-friendly business products and also recycling some of the metals in their production cycle.
“A lot of stuff from our old, unsold stock and materials that fail quality checks are sent back for reinventing and creating new collections. We figured that even small initiatives like these actually make a big impact towards sustainability,” adds Kaabia.
A plantation drive organised by CERE.
Another step that Outhouse took was to start using vegan leather to manufacture its bags. In order to ensure that the products are animal-cruelty free, the company has been sourcing only specific types of vegan leather. “The key idea here is to make use of more organic, eco-friendly material to create our designs. Going vegan and being sustainable are two different things. We have already sold about 280 bags in 2019 and hope to do even better this season,” says Kaabia.
In a one-of-its-kind effort, last month, the company launched a distinct collection of jewellery featuring the ‘evil eye’ amulet, a symbol which resonates with the protection of ecology. With a view to add more value to this, Outhouse entered into a collaboration with the Urban Afforestation Project as part of the Centre for Environmental Research and Education (CERE). The arrangement has been made in such a way that a dedicated 10 percent of the sales proceeds from the evil eye collection - Protego Chain Bracelet and Trinity Star Pendant - will be channeled towards the planting of 500 trees in the next six months.
Part of the proceeds from the sale of trinity star pendant will be dedicated towards afforestation.
“All of us are deeply affected by climate change and deforestation has only added to the problem. Hence, we decided to launch an initiative where the customers themselves can take a step forward to be environmentally responsible by simply making certain purchase decisions,” explains Kaabia.
Janjri Jasani, the Head of Sustainability Services at CERE, says,
“Corporate institutions have the capacity to accelerate sustainable development and climate change mitigation. Partnerships between companies and civil society organisations like CERE can provide a platform to fast-track this. Our partnership with Outhouse serves as an example wherein trees will be planted for every purchase people make within their jewellery collection. Well, we are going to start planting the saplings this monsoon season, starting June and up until October.”
Presently, Kaabia and Sasha are waiting for the plantation drive to kick off and in the meanwhile, hoping that their initiative will inspire other fashion brands to do their bit towards the environment.
(Edited by Javed Gaihlot)