I am Anitha and wanted to share the story of The Open Road, a social enterprise my sister started and I have carried on. Our journey really began a long time ago. At that time, we were five years old when we left our country and journeyed to Papua New Guinea by way of Thailand. Spending our childhood in the South Pacific was a bit of an idyllic tropical paradise – it is a beautiful and spectacular place where we learnt about caring for the planet, grew a tropical rainforest in our school, and journeyed on the Great Barrier Reef learning about marine conservation and protecting the world’s oceans.
The beauty in Nature was tangible and the wonder and enchantment of the planet was vibrant.
This made an indelible impression upon me as a child. During our childhood we were also dressed in ethical fashion, long before we discovered ethical fashion! My mother used to dress my sister and I in clothing very similar to the fashion on The Open Road, and these dresses were sourced from a family friend who had started a social enterprise, employing poor women in India and allowing them to work from home making these children’s outfits. This allowed them to be there for their families while earning an income.
I currently work as a consultant for the World Health Organization (WHO) on climate change and health.
It’s no secret that the fashion industry can be both polluting and detrimental to health – both for workers in the fashion industry as well as for the planet.
Harmful chemicals in materials used and unsafe working conditions impact both human health and the environment. Sustainability is a buzzword in the international development field, and opting for sustainable fashion contributes to ways in which we can preserve our planet for our children and our children’s children.
The Open Road addresses both the environment and the people in the fashion industry who make our clothes. We support women from disadvantaged backgrounds by allowing them to work as tailors from home, eliminating harmful working conditions and ensuring a transparent supply chain. We also produce children’s apparel that are classic and traditional in style – more of heritage pieces - that are to be treasured and passed down to generations. This reduces the impact of garments going to waste and also encourages stories to be shared and passed down from generation to generation through the clothes that are worn.
Through The Open Road, I also hope to encourage children to be global citizens, learning more about our world, much as I did growing up internationally. I hope The Open Road can be a part of the lives of future generations, raising them up to be a light in the world and have a positive impact.
Written by: Caroline Anitha