“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...
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.