What is a Secret Leader? Read Secret Leader Molly’s interview to learn more…

What is a Secret Leader? Read Secret Leader Molly's interview to learn more...

 17th Jun 2019 |  Learn about us |  Fritha Mason


“In the unit we are not just colleagues, we are friends and family. We share so many things. They share their problems with me and I also share my problems with them. We eat together, we have fun, we talk about our lives. We take care of each other.”

This interview was carried out in the ladies' compartment of the Kolkata to Canning Town train...

  1. Tell us a bit about yourself and the project that you lead…

I lead a sewing unit in West Bengal, two hours outside of Kolkata, where we make Secret Sari Dresses. The Secret Sari Dress Prevention Through Production programme is a very positive project for the unit and the Makers. It arrived at a time when the future of the unit was uncertain, so the project truly changed our lives. With support from Secret Projects and the Secret Sari Dress order we were able to build up the unit and prove what we are capable of. The Secret Sari Dress She Rocks campaign has left us feeling very motivated and we are very excited for future order.

  1. What motivates you as a Secret Leader?

The Secret Sari Dress project is very different to other projects that I have led in the past as it is a global project with huge impact. It was only our unit making the order, so we feel very connect to the Secret Sari Dress as a product. We also feel very connected to the women everywhere making our dresses. I see all the photos on Instagram and always show them to the other Makers. This really excites us. One of the girls in the unit was inspired by the fabrics of the She Rocks collection and made a burqa for herself in similar leopard print fabric.

  1. Do you notice any changes in yourself as a result of leading this project?

I can see so many changes in myself. I have worked with big businesses in the past, but the Secret Sari Dress order gives me more confidence in the quality of our production as a unit. I feel very confident and proud as a designer and Maker.

My English has improved so much and I feel so much more confident when talking. In previous jobs, we had lots of foreign visitors but I felt too shy to fully share the stories of my girls. Instead, my line manager talked on our behalf. Now for the Secret Sari Dress project I am the main point of contact. There is no intermediate. So I had to step in and be the main communicator for my girls. Everyone at Secret Projects is so patient and they really encourage me. When I look in the mirror I feel like a different person.

  1. Do you notice any changes in the other Makers involved in the project?

I have watched their growth from student to export-quality Maker. They now believe in themselves: they know that they can earn and be independent. I can see their increase in confidence in the way that they interact with me and other who come to visit the unit.

  1. How do you see your project developing in the future?

The Secret Sari Dress project is a really good model to change our lives and help in the continuation of our unit. I know that Secret Projects believes in us and in the high-quality products we can maker, so I know that we can work together to develop and make new and different products in the future. By working together on the Secret Sari Dress project we have captured the whole world. We can continue to have a huge impact together.

  1. What would you like to say to your customers and supporters?

I do not think of it as a seller/customer relationship as the women who buy and wear Secret Sari Dresses do not buy things. They are sharing their love for the girls. They are sharing hope. They are building up human beings. They are not giving money, but they are giving the women power and the ability to change their lives. Our unit is full of hope after the Secret Sari Dress She Rocks campaign.

  1. What would you say to others who have a similar project in mind that they would like to put into action?

When people ask me how we built up the unit from a time of real difficulty, I tell them:

  • Always be honest.
  • Always work to your 100% and be totally involved and present in your work.
  • Believe in your work.
  • At times when you feel down, think about the impact of your project.

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We are very glad to be part of #shopethicalinstead

We are very glad to be part of #shopethicalinstead

#Shopethicalinstead campaign This powerful campaign encourages people to support, small, ethical, and sustainable businesses and vote with their . . . wallets for a better world. The 2022 Christmas campaign is focused on making it easy to buy good gifts from ethical small businesses, just like Secret Projects. We are proud to be a part of it. The impact The campaign reaches thousands, if not millions of people and provides small businesses with a wonderful platform to shout loudly about the enormous benefits of supporting this particular sector of businesses. Do watch out for our posts about this campaign over the coming weeks and enjoy shopping for your gifts this Christmastime. View our Ranges of clothing and homeware produced with love by our Makers in India here.
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Journey with us to Eastern India to the Heart of Secret Projects - 21st-30th November 2023

Journey with us to Eastern India to the Heart of Secret Projects - 21st-30th November 2023

Let us show you our India... Travel with us to our beloved India and experience this glorious country the Secret Projects way!  Join us in Eastern . . . India for a special journey to the heart of Secret Projects for 10 nights from 21st -30th November 2023. Book by 31st December and receive a 10% Early bird discount Important information: The beginning of our journey together Our journey together begins in Kolkata on Tuesday 21st November with a welcome dinner at 8pm local time. Please arrive in good time to join us at this special meal to celebrate the beginning of our time together.  If you would prefer to arrive in Kolkata the day before (20th November) to give yourself time to relax before the Secret Projects journey begins the following day, please let us know and we will arrange for an extra night to be added to your hotel booking. Please note: there will be an additional charge for the extra night's accommodation. On the final day of our journey together We end our journey together as we began, in Kolkata, this time with a goodbye dinner on Thursday 30th November at 8pm local time. We stay on this final night in our hotel and depart the following morning (1st December) to catch outbound flights home or, to continue your time in India. Again, if you would like to remain at the hotel for further nights, please let us know and we can make the arrangements. Please note: there will be an additional charge for the extra night's accommodation. The full itinerary and other information can be found below. We are absolutely overjoyed to warmly invite you to join us on our first post-pandemic Customer Trip.  A journey to the heart of Secret Projects in Eastern India. Our Customer Trips are very much part of the fabric of Secret Projects and we feel honoured to be able to share our story and provide our Shareholders, Customers and Friends with an opportunity to visit the beating heart of our business. Great thought and care have gone into the itinerary to ensure that our travellers experience India both on and off the beaten track in all her glory. You will be immersed in the colour and vibrancy of this wonderful country as you travel between the bustling city of Kolkata that teems with life and The Sundarbans, a World Heritage Site and one of the largest mangrove forests in the world. Travelling with Secret Projects takes you far beyond the realms of the average tourist. Of course, you will have plenty of opportunities to see the sights, savour Indian food and immerse yourself in all that India has to offer. Yet Secret Projects takes you deeper into a side of India not seen by many, as you visit our Maker Group in the Sundarbans, and witness first-hand the working relationship we have with a group of local women who stitch for us and the impactful NGO that supports the women. We absolutely can’t wait to introduce you. We will also meet up with one of our oldest friends, Molly who runs her own sewing unit for young women and was an integral part of the production of our now-famous Secret Sari Dresses. You will witness first-hand how sewing productions can drive women’s economic empowerment and see how your investment, custom and support make it possible. Your Hosts We are delighted to introduce you to Banke Ajayi, Secret Projects (UK) Finance Director, Sumathi Sumi, Director of Social Power India, our India sister company and Margaret Ring, our Communications Director of Secret Projects (UK) who will lead the trip, making sure you are well looked after. In the Sundarbans, we will also meet up with Lissy, our Quality Controller for Social Power India. Payment and booking The cost of the Customer Trip is $2,750 per person. (This is based on a group of 12 and includes all internal travel) The following is not included in the cost of the Customer Trip: International inbound and outbound flights Travel Insurance Cost of tourist visa All drinks, both soft and alcoholic during and outside mealtimes Single occupancy rooms. If you would like a single room, we can provide a quote. Payment for your trip can be made in full, or in instalments if more convenient and full details of how to pay can be found here. A booking confirmation will be sent to you via email. We will also provide you with as much useful information as we possibly can in the run-up to your Customer Trip, including our top tips for travelling in India. To book your place or to ask us questions please email: travel@secretprojects.org Just a note: If you are thinking of extending your time in India to explore other regions, we will do our best to support you with this. We may be able to make bookings on your behalf or, suggest other Travel Operators within India. What’s in store... Tuesday 21st November - day/night one: We commence our shared journey with a welcome dinner in Kolkata to provide us with a chance to get to know each other and find our ‘Indian feet.’ Wednesday 22nd November - day/night two: The day begins after breakfast followed by a 3 (or so) hour drive in a Tempo Traveller (that will be at our disposal for the entire trip) to the Sundarbans. The Sundarbans is a truly beautiful World Heritage Site and such a wonderful place to spend time. However, we can’t forget that its remoteness makes it a target for gangs of human traffickers. Women who earn an income are much less likely to fall into the hands of traffickers and that is exactly why we began our relationship with our Sundarbans Maker Group, who you will meet tomorrow, to provide women with fairly paid stitching work, empowering each one economically. Thursday 23rd November - day/night three: We travel together through breathtaking scenery to the area where our Sundarbans Maker Group is based, spending the day with the women and the team behind the NGO that also supports the group. Friday 24th November - day/night four: It’s a busy day today as we meet up again with the Sundarbans Makers, as well as one of our oldest friends, Molly who we have briefly introduced earlier. Molly runs her own sewing unit for young women in a nearby town - she is an inspiration to us. We will also fit in a visit to one of the local markets, taking in the sights and perhaps making a purchase (or two) of something to remind you of your time in this unique region of the world. Saturday 25th November - day/night five: Enjoy a day of leisure today. We have some excellent ideas for you. Perhaps get acquainted with Bengal Tigers (if it’s your lucky day!) on a Tiger Trek, visit one of the local markets for another spot of shopping, or simply relax, read and reflect on your Indian journey so far. The day is yours! Sunday 26th November - day/night six: It’s a day of competition, feedback, and insight for our Makers. We have worked with the women over the year, asking them to stitch products to showcase to you today. Your job is to choose the one/s you feel would be great for Secret Projects to produce with the Makers to sell on the international market. This is a key day for the women and will provide each one with a beneficial understanding of markets and trends. Monday 27th November - day/night seven: It’s back to Kolkata today and after freshening up at our hotel, we visit Mother House, the final resting place of Mother Theresa. A place of great peace and pilgrimage. Tuesday 28th November - day/night eight: Come with us today to Freeset, a Charity with an aim so close to our own hearts, to provide employment opportunities for women affected by human trafficking. We haven’t visited Freeset for a number of years due to the pandemic and it will be wonderful to catch up with this inspirational organisation. We know you will be as affected by their work as much we are. Wednesday 29th November - day/night nine: One can’t visit India without taking a train ride and that’s our job for today, to help you experience the joys of the Indian rail system. Tonight, your hosts take a night off, giving you all an opportunity to dine together in town at a restaurant of your choice. Thursday 30th November - day/night ten: Today is all about finding out more about traditional Indian dress, as we descend upon one of the most famous Saree markets in the city. The colours, noise and vibrancy of this market will live in your memories for many years to come. We end the day with our final meal together – a time to share our memories and highlights of the trip and swap details for keeping in touch. Friday 1st December: Make your preparations to either board your flights back home or continue your journey in this glorious land - both with huge smiles on your faces and a head bursting with new and wonderful memories. Just a note: Although we work hard to follow the itinerary closely, we do want to highlight that it may be subject to change should circumstances change. We will do our very best to notify you of any changes well ahead of time, if possible. And last but by no means least, here is what a couple of our travellers have to say about experiencing India the Secret Projects way... I could never have imagined just how wonderful the trip with Secret Projects was! Upon landing I was given such a warm welcome & immediately felt at home with the rest of the group. The days were wonderfully structured and we saw things I never thought I would experience. Meeting the women in the units was incredibly emotional on so many levels and ultimately so inspiring to see what Secret Projects has achieved with them. I really hope I get the opportunity to go back again someday & I will forever treasure the memories of this trip...❤️ Whitney, Traveller on the Secret Projects 2019 East India Customer Trip We thank you warmly and wholeheartedly for travelling with us to India and ask that you keep in touch with us. We absolutely love seeing our travellers' photographs and reminiscing with you from time to time about our time together in our beloved India. Photo montage: images from our Customer Trip to Kolkata and The Sundarbans 2019  
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Our Customer Trips are back! Journey with us to Eastern India November 21st -30th 2023

Our Customer Trips are back! Journey with us to Eastern India November 21st -30th 2023

Let us show you our India... Travel with us to our beloved India and experience this glorious country the Secret Projects way!  Join us in Eastern . . . India for a special journey to the heart of Secret Projects for 10 nights from 21st -30th November 2023. Important information: The beginning of our journey together Our journey together begins in Kolkata on Tuesday 21st November with a welcome dinner at 8pm local time. Please arrive in good time to join us at this special meal to celebrate the beginning of our time together.  If you would prefer to arrive in Kolkata the day before (20th November) to give yourself time to relax before the Secret Projects journey begins the following day, please let us know and we will arrange for an extra night to be added to your hotel booking. Please note: there will be an additional charge for the extra night's accommodation. On the final day of our journey together We end our journey together as we began, in Kolkata, this time with a goodbye dinner on Thursday 30th November at 8pm local time. We stay on this final night in our hotel and depart the following morning (1st December) to catch outbound flights home or, to continue your time in India. Again, if you would like to remain at the hotel for further nights, please let us know and we can make the arrangements. Please note: there will be an additional charge for the extra night's accommodation. The full itinerary and other information can be found below. A journey to the heart of Secret Projects. Join us in Eastern India for a spectacular journey. Departing in November 2023 for 10 nights We are absolutely overjoyed to warmly invite you to join us on our first post-pandemic Customer Trip – A journey to the heart of Secret Projects. Our Customer Trips are very much part of the fabric of Secret Projects and we feel honoured to be able to share our story and provide our Shareholders, Customers and Friends with an opportunity to visit the beating heart of our business. Great thought and care have gone into the itinerary to ensure that our travellers experience India both on and off the beaten track in all her glory. You will be immersed in the colour and vibrancy of this wonderful country as you travel between the bustling city of Kolkata that teems with life and The Sundarbans, a World Heritage Site and one of the largest mangrove forests in the world. Travelling with Secret Projects takes you far beyond the realms of the average tourist. Of course, you will have plenty of opportunities to see the sights, savour Indian food and immerse yourself in all that India has to offer. Yet Secret Projects takes you deeper into a side of India not seen by many, as you visit our Maker Group in the Sundarbans, and witness first-hand the working relationship we have with a group of local women who stitch for us and the impactful NGO that supports the women. We absolutely can’t wait to introduce you. We will also meet up with one of our oldest friends, Molly who runs her own sewing unit for young women and was an integral part of the production of our now-famous Secret Sari Dresses. You will witness first-hand how sewing productions can drive women’s economic empowerment and see how your investment, custom and support make it possible. Your Hosts We are delighted to introduce you to Banke Ajayi, Secret Projects (UK) Finance Director, Sumathi Sumi, Director of Social Power India, our India sister company and Margaret Ring, our Communications Director of Secret Projects (UK) who will lead the trip, making sure you are well looked after. In the Sundarbans, we will also meet up with Lissy, our Quality Controller for Social Power India. Payment and booking The cost of the Customer Trip is $2,750 per person. (This is based on a group of 12 and includes all internal travel) The following is not included in the cost of the Customer Trip: International inbound and outbound flights Travel Insurance Cost of tourist visa All drinks, both soft and alcoholic during and outside mealtimes Single occupancy rooms. If you would like a single room, we can provide a quote. Payment for your trip can be made in full, or in instalments if more convenient and details of how to pay can be found here. A booking confirmation will be sent to you via email. We will also provide you with as much useful information as we possibly can in the run-up to your Customer Trip, including our top tips for travelling in India. To book your place or to ask us questions please email: travel@secretprojects.org Just a note: If you are thinking of extending your time in India to explore other regions, we will do our best to support you with this. We may be able to make bookings on your behalf or, suggest other Travel Operators within India. What’s in store... Tuesday 21st November - day/night one: We commence our shared journey with a welcome dinner in Kolkata to give us chance to get to know each other and find our ‘Indian feet.’ Wednesday 22nd November - day/night two: The day begins after breakfast followed by a 3 (or so) hours drive in a Tempo Traveller (that will be at our disposal for the entire trip) to the Sundarbans. The Sundarbans is a truly beautiful World Heritage Site and such a wonderful place to spend time. However, we can’t forget that its remoteness makes it a target for gangs of human traffickers. Women who earn an income are much less likely to fall into the hands of traffickers and that is exactly why we began our relationship with our Sundarbans Maker Group, who you will meet tomorrow, to provide women with fairly paid stitching work, empowering each one economically. Thursday 23rd November - day/night three: We travel together through breathtaking scenery to the area where our Sundarbans Maker Group is based, spending the day with the women and the team behind the NGO that also supports the group. Friday 24th November - day/night four: It’s a busy day today as we meet up again with the Sundarbans Makers, as well as one of our oldest friends, Molly who we have briefly introduced earlier. Molly runs her own sewing unit for young women in a nearby town - she is an inspiration to us. We will also fit in a visit to one of the local markets, taking in the sights and perhaps making a purchase (or two) of something to remind you of your time in this unique region of the worl Saturday 25th November - day/night five: Enjoy a day of leisure today. We have some excellent ideas for you. Perhaps get acquainted with Bengal Tigers (if it’s your lucky day!) on a Tiger Trek, visit one of the local markets for another spot of shopping, or simply relax, read and reflect on your Indian journey so far. The day is yours! Sunday 26th November - day/night six: It’s a day of competition, feedback, and insight for our Makers. We have worked with the women over the year, asking them to stitch products to showcase to you today. Your job is to choose the one/s you feel would be great for Secret Projects to produce with the Makers to sell on the international market. This is a key day for the women and will provide each one with a beneficial understanding of markets and trends. Monday 27th November - day/night seven: It’s back to Kolkata today and after freshening up at our hotel, we visit Mother House, the final resting place of Mother Theresa. A place of great peace and pilgrimage. Tuesday 28th November - day/night eight: Come with us today to Freeset, a Charity with an aim so close to our own hearts, to provide employment opportunities for women affected by human trafficking. We haven’t visited Freeset for a number of years due to the pandemic and it will be wonderful to catch up with this inspirational organisation. We know you will be as affected by their work as much we are. Wednesday 29th November - day/night nine: One can’t visit India without taking a train ride and that’s our job for today, to help you experience the joys of the Indian rail system. Tonight, your hosts take a night off, giving you all an opportunity to dine together in town at a restaurant of your choice. Thursday 30th November - day/night ten: Today is all about finding out more about traditional Indian dress, as we descend upon one of the most famous Saree markets in the city. The colours, noise and vibrancy of this market will live in your memories for many years to come. We end the day with our final meal together – a time to share our memories and highlights of the trip and swap details for keeping in touch. Friday 1st December: Make your preparations to either board your flights back home or continue your journey in this glorious land - both with huge smiles on your faces and a head bursting with new and wonderful memories. Just a note: Although we work hard to follow the itinerary closely, we do want to highlight that it may be subject to change should circumstances change. We will do our very best to notify you of any changes well ahead of time, if possible. And last but by no means least, here is what a couple of our travellers have to say about experiencing India the Secret Projects way... I could never have imagined just how wonderful the trip with Secret Projects was! Upon landing I was given such a warm welcome & immediately felt at home with the rest of the group. The days were wonderfully structured and we saw things I never thought I would experience. Meeting the women in the units was incredibly emotional on so many levels and ultimately so inspiring to see what Secret Projects has achieved with them. I really hope I get the opportunity to go back again someday & I will forever treasure the memories of this trip...❤️ Whitney, Traveller on the Secret Projects 2019 East India Customer Trip We thank you warmly and wholeheartedly for travelling with us to India and ask that you keep in touch with us. We absolutely love seeing our travellers' photographs and reminiscing with you from time to time about our time together in our beloved India.   Photo montage: a selection of images from Secret Projects Customer Trip to Kolkata and The Sundarbans 2019.
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