Eight Thousand Miles turns 4 today! Happy Anniversary to us!
Four years ago, it was today, that with a small leap of faith and a few meters of fabric, I set out to start my own business venture by creating our first sample. A few days later, at a local pop-up market in Mumbai, I put it out in the world for others to find it.
That small leap of faith has evolved into a full-blown small business, that today, has grown from meter to meter, print to print and flown across the world, mile by mile. Starting in Mumbai, to operating from Manhattan, our clothes have been shipped to more places around the world, than we could ever have dreamed of.
When I started Eight Thousand Miles, with a capsule collection of separates for children from the ages of 0 to 6 years, in playful vibrant prints, my goal was to create a brand that celebrates the ethos of non-conformist, free-spirited wanderers. Those, that like many of us, in these times, feel a sense of simultaneous belonging to more than one part of the world and refuse to be constrained by pre-drawn lines. Be they of gender, geography or otherwise.
This is why as a brand, we continue to endorse comfortable, gender-neutral clothing that has a global appeal. In doing so, we hope to provide greater choice and variety to our customers, so that parents and children can choose what they would ‘like to wear’. By not necessarily being told what ‘they should wear’. Each time a collared night set gets picked for a girl or a strappy jumper gets picked for a boy, we do a happy jig in our head!
Working with our hands, makes us what we are today! From the first sketch on paper, our prints chart a handmade journey of their own – being carved on wooden blocks, block-printed or woven into fabric, hand cut into patterns, sewn into styles and finally, manually finished, packaged and labelled to be sent out into the world. Call us old souls, but celebrating age-old artisanal crafts and reviving traditional textile techniques on the brink of extinction, comes naturally to us! This, along with the idea of establishing a brand that addresses social responsibility, that gives back - not as a part of what it does, but with a more wholistic approach, mattered to me, as we were starting out. So, I placed social impact, right where I thought every business should - at the core of the business model and so Eight Thousand Miles’ ethos was born – to use craft as a catalyst to cause social impact!
Thus, started the process of identifying & creating mutually respectful synergies with small native artisanal communities that have been weaving/ block printing textiles for generations, to create our fabrics. And establishing relationships, with fair trade, self-sustaining sewing collectives, empowered by women from local communities, vocationally trained by non-profit organizations, to sew them into our styles.
Today, this is how we make all our clothes!
Despite how hard it is at times, to ensure quality, professionalism and timeliness with indigenous craft communities that are not used to structure; we continue to work directly with them, engaging at the grassroot level through training and workshops, so that the work we do, can have a direct impact on their lives. And in the process, on ours too.
Both the sewing units employed by us, are run by entrepreneurial women from disadvantaged backgrounds, who started out as trainees but soon emerged through the ranks, purely based on their gumption, hard-work and will to succeed. Stitch by stitch, they sewed their way into becoming heads of households and sending their daughters to school, with their ‘own’ hard earned wages, as they often proclaim. They, to me, form both - our sources of inspiration and measures of success!
Like every other small business, we too continue to face our fair share of challenges. Entrepreneurship is hard, physically and emotionally. But for every time that I have had to juggle around the two antipodal time zones that I choose to work within, there comes some exhilaration in the form of a happy customer testimonial. For every disappointment that may have stemmed from a sales goal not met, comes a flurry of online orders from far and wide. For every time that some anxiety may have emerged, from having to pick between the personal and professional, there have been butterflies in the belly, at the thought of creating and launching the next set of prints.
The journey would have been only half as interesting without any of this.
It is this journey that I am thankful for today. For the many miles and the countless smiles it has brought me and my team. For the learning curve that I have only half-way reached and continue to climb every day. For the valuable craft learnt from the wonderful artists and skilled workers, that I have the opportunity to work with on sampling trips (Also for the endless cups of tea and home-cooked meals their families serve me). For family that understands why I do what I do.
And last but not the least, for the support, patronage and kind words that come our way, from you. Thank You for joining along in this adventure with me and Eight Thousand Miles and championing us all along. With you by our side, we hope to celebrate many more anniversaries, in the years to come!
Founder, Design Director
Eight Thousand Miles
Mumbai | New York