For the Greater Goods

A lifestyle blog for the conscious consumer

Inspiring Individuals: Sonia Agarwal

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When it comes to ethical fashion, names like Stella McCartney, Alex and Ani, and Warby Parker might come to mind, but the name Sonia Agarwal may not… at least not yet. I have seen Sonia’s passion first hand in classes at Babson College where we both graduated in 2012. Since graduating, Sonia has created Asia’s first online marketplace for ethical, luxurious fashion called WHITENIFE. I had the privilege of asking Sonia a few questions about her venture. Continue reading to learn more about her company and thoughts on the future of the fashion industry.

How did you come up with the idea for WHITENIFE? What initially sparked your passion?

I have always been passionate about fashion, entrepreneurship and conservation. On graduating from Babson College in 2012, I found my true calling in WHITENIFE. Initially WHITENIFE was found to develop a premium, animal-friendly alternate to leather. During its research, it was introduced to Elfh- a patent registered, mineral based composite that is 89% close to genuine elephant ivory. It has been quite a remarkable journey for WHITENIFE as for today it has transformed to become Asia’s first marketplace for ethical fashion products. It currently houses over 20 brands & designers from over 16 countries and ships globally.

AMALENA specializes in ethical and eco-friendly gold jewelry. It designs timeless handcrafted pieces in 18ct Eco-Gold, which is extracted from mines in Columbia in fair, healthy and sustainable working conditions. Amalena encourages local female goldsmiths to create unique pieces that honor their heritage and conserve their traditional craftsmanship. This unique piece is a tribute to the beautiful artistic expression in the Wayuú culture. In their dialect, the word “Aa’in” means heart, soul and purity. The intricate curves within the shape is an homage to the spirals painted on the faces of Wayuú women. Just as they pay tribute to the circle of life, this charm reminds us that love has no end.

AMALENA specializes in ethical and eco-friendly gold jewelry. It designs handcrafted pieces with 18ct Eco-Gold, which is extracted from mines in Columbia in fair, healthy and sustainable working conditions. Amalena encourages local female goldsmiths to create unique pieces that honor their heritage and traditional craftsmanship. This unique piece is a tribute to a Wayuú culture expression. In their dialect, the word “Aa’in” means heart, soul and purity. The intricate curves within the heart represent the spirals painted on the faces of Wayuú women. Just as they pay tribute to the circle of life, this charm reminds us that love has no end.

What has been the hardest part of starting your own company? And the most rewarding?

WHITNIFE has always been forward thinking in the fashion industry. It has evolved many times to take its shape. These transitions have been certainly been challenging, but have allowed me to introduce a fashion platform that can address social-environmental world problem. It gives me a great sense of satisfaction to allow fashion enthusiasts to indulge in fashion without guilt. 

ABURY is a pioneering fashion brand, from Morocco, that combines traditional crafts with avantgarde designs; to create a new luxury style that fosters intercultural exchange. The Abury Foundation not only supports the village communities by providing them with work opportunities but also gives back the same number of education hours at the Abury School, as the number of hours taken to produce an Abury product.

ABURY is a pioneering fashion brand, from Morocco, that combines traditional crafts with avantgarde designs; to create a new luxury style that fosters intercultural exchange. The Abury Foundation not only supports the village communities by providing them with work opportunities but also gives back the same number of education hours at the Abury School, as the number of hours taken to produce an Abury product.

What is your criteria to consider a brand “ethical”?

Ethical issues have always been subjective and there are many ways a fashion brand can choose to be ethical. For us at WHITENIFE, Ethical Fashion is about celebrating real fashion and empowering communities. WHITENIFE supports many of world’s big problems today such as education, human exploitation, and loss of biodiversity, waste production, water pollution, community development and women empowerment.

Every brand on our platform supports at least one of the eight causes below:

  • Artisan & Craftsmanship Conservation
  • Animal Friendly & Vegan
  • Environmentally Sustainable Materials
  • Conflict Free Mining
  • Up cycle& Zero Waste
  • Cruelty Free & Ethical
  • Women Empowerment
  • Social Development
Beach to Boudoir is a UK based, socially conscious lifestyle brand is dedicated to empowering local communities. Inspired from the 50s, its collection is eclectic in nature with signature prints and intricate beadwork. It uses natural Oeko Tex* fabrics along with Azo free certified dyes. Beach to Boudoir, produces zero waste for the landfill, and donates all their fabric wastage to two charities in Bali “The Safe Childhood foundation” & “Bali Life Foundation”, for new design & skill development.

Beach to Boudoir is a UK based, socially conscious lifestyle brand is dedicated to empowering local communities. Inspired from the 50s, its collection is eclectic in nature with signature prints and intricate beadwork. It uses natural Oeko Tex* fabrics along with Azo free certified dyes. Beach to Boudoir, produces zero waste for the landfill, and donates all their fabric wastage to two charities in Bali “The Safe Childhood foundation” & “Bali Life Foundation”, for new design & skill development.

What are your hopes for the future of the fashion industry? And how do you see WHITENIFE playing a role in that?

The dynamics of the fashion industry are changing rapidly. We envision, that in the coming years, fashion corporations will be more sustainable and young, upcoming designers will take immense pride to embrace the possibility of transforming the world with Fashion. 

WHITENIFE has been a pioneer in the fashion Industry by creating Asia’s first platform to curate ethical brands and designers from around the globe. This platform will not only allow fashion connoisseurs to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle but also encourage more brands to strive towards sustainability. In order to extend our promise to be green, WHITENIFE works with its brands to reduce carbon footprint.

EARTH HEIR is a luxury craftsmanship company from Cambodia, with an exquisite collection of handcrafted fashion, and home accessories. Each piece weaves a human story, made lovingly by master craftsperson carrying the disappearing traditions of their forebears. They use natural fibers, upcycled materials and ecofriendly dyes to craft their unique products. Earth Heir return 10% of their revenue to charities supporting trafficking survivors and plant two trees for every scarf purchased.

EARTH HEIR is a luxury craftsmanship company from Cambodia, with an exquisite collection of handcrafted fashion, and home accessories. Each piece weaves a human story, made lovingly by master craftsperson carrying the disappearing traditions of their forebears. They use natural fibers, upcycled materials and ecofriendly dyes to craft their unique products. Earth Heir return 10% of their revenue to charities supporting trafficking survivors and plant two trees for every scarf purchased.

What advice would you give to someone who is trying to create a more ethical wardrobe?

It is a myth that in order to have a more ethical wardrobe one needs to compromise on design and craftsmanship. One simply needs to address How is it made? Where is it made? With what is it made? Who makes it? And of course visit www.whitenife.com a platform that curates brands that address these positively.

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