Ethical fashion company Woven Riches is my attempt to bring India closer to Belfast, says the founder

The hope of bringing a bit of India to Belfast has inspired the creation of an exciting new ethical fashion brand.

other-of-two Namita Khanna has wanted to showcase the craftsmanship of her homeland along with her beautiful vibrant colors since she moved here from India 30 years ago. She finally realized her dream in 2018 when she launched her fashion and homewares brand, Woven Riches.

Her business was just taking off when Covid-19 hit in 2020, but since emerging from the pandemic, Namita, 50, has continued to slowly build her brand, which is firmly rooted in the ethos of the slow fashion movement.

Slow fashion is the opposite of fast fashion and stands for clothes made according to people. It uses artisans and ecological materials with the aim of preserving the craft and the environment.


Daughter Ree helps her mom Namita with Woven Riches

Namita says: “I’m not perfect, but morals, ethics and empathy are important to me. There are so many artisans in India who never get recognition for their skills.

“Over the years, I worked in my husband’s shop, but that’s not what I decided to do. I was always designing things in my head and talking to people in India about products and designs.

“I finally decided to start with a small stake in 2018 because I didn’t have the funds to take a big risk, so I’ve been gradually increasing it since then.

“I’m also passionate about women’s empowerment and I’ve always wanted to work with some women at home, but in an ethical way that ensures they get fair hours and pay and that their skills are valued.

“I have two groups that I work with, one in Delhi of five girls who produce my items and another team of five in Jaipur who do my block printing.

“I am very aware of how workers in India are exploited in fashion sweatshops, as I have seen it with my own eyes. Fortunately, things are improving now, but wages are still very low. It is important for me to act ethically and consciously with integrity.


One of the ethically crafted items available at Woven Riches

“It gives these lovely ladies some income while also allowing them to be self-sufficient and independent.

“That’s why we don’t make fast fashion pieces or follow trends, only timeless and timeless products with a soul and a story behind each one.”

Although she is a frequent visitor to India, especially since starting her company, Namita has long since become accustomed to life in Northern Ireland.

Love made her move to Belfast in 1992.

Her husband Sanjay is Indian and was born here.

Namita met him during his frequent trips home to India and the couple fell in love and married.

Since moving here, she has worked at her husband’s dry cleaners. Sanjay is well known in Belfast for his shop Mint Dry Cleaning in the city centre.

The couple have two children, Jay, 20, who works with PWC, and their daughter Reea, 25, a trainee doctor in Liverpool who is also helping Namit with her new job.


Namita’s home accessories are lively and colorful

In addition to giving something back to her homeland, Namita also wanted to show the beautiful bright colors of India through her products.

She says, “It wasn’t until I left India that my eyes were opened to the beauty I was immersed in, yet completely unaware of. I couldn’t stop visualizing the vibrant colors of the home. People tend to shy away from color here and I really wanted to bring these bright home colors into my design.”

Woven Riches not only supplies artisans in India, but working with a friend back home, Namita started her own charity, the Nagpal Foundation, to help orphaned children living on the streets of Delhi.

She explains: “Many children have been orphaned due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Me and a friend in India give them a hot meal twice a week. I use some of the earnings from Woven Riches to pay for the food while my friend cooks it in her own kitchen and brings it to the kids every Tuesday and Saturday.

“We started with about 50-60 kids and now there are between 100 and 150 every day and we’re not even working. These children live on the street and have no life, even food is hard to come by.

“As I develop my business, I don’t know where this humanitarian action will take me, but I really feel a sense of purpose in it and eventually I would like to have a bigger kitchen.”

Namita now has her own website and also sells Woven Riches online through Etsy, Shopify and Not on the High Street. She has also recently started bringing her products to local slow fashion markets and events across Northern Ireland.

She adds: “It’s nice to finally do something I’ve dreamed about for so long.” The feedback I have received from the event in Northern Ireland has been so positive and I am encouraged by that. Woven Riches is my humble attempt to bring India closer to Belfast and beyond.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *