Kindred Apparel Helps Women Escape Slave Labour in India

Local company embraces social enterprise to support women in India.

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Scarf from Kindred Apparel.

If changing the way you bought promotional products for your company could help change someone’s life, would you do it? Victoria entrepreneur Ali Rushton bet on it a decade ago when she launched Kindred Apparel.

Her socially conscious company sells large-order, custom-printed products, from bags to T-shirts and hats that are all organic, fair trade and made in a factory run by former victims of a red-light district in Kolkata, India. The workshop is overseen by Freeset, a New Zealand-based World Fair Trade Organization business that employs women who were forced into slave labour and have few commercial skills.

“They teach and educate the women, give them jobs, health care, child care, literacy classes, pensions, vacation pay — everything we expect from a job in North America,” says Rushton.

Kindred’s clients include Whole Foods, Lush, the Salvation Army and Meinhardt Fine Foods. Being able to make a living while enhancing life for a vulnerable population is paramount to her mindset.

“What drew me to working with [Freeset],” she says, “is that I have an entrepreneurial spirit and a humanitarian spirit – and social enterprise married the two together nicely.”

This article is from the February/March 2019 issue of Douglas.