“I see the work being done with Ellie Fun Day as a way to provide a particular group of talented and hardworking women with a safe and positive work environment. Through their work they earn a livable fare wage. I also see our model as having the potential to incorporate other sewing centers in the area as we scale.”
On August 12th, 2013, we interviewed Sarah Lin, Co-Founder and Chief Blankie Crafter, of Ellie Fun Day.
Ellie Fun Day is a business committed to working with women artisans in India to create organic baby blankets.
What is your role in the business?
I am the Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer
Is Ellie Fun Day in business?
Yes, we started in March of 2012.
Where are you located?
We are located in San Jose but our artisans are in India.
How many people do you employ?
Right now it’s two people: my husband and myself.
Who are you customers?
Our customers are two main groups. The first group is mothers between 29-40 with small children who are socially and environmentally conscious consumers. Our second type of customers are family and friends of a family with a newborn. All of these people are looking to make more sustainable consumer choices. They are also willing to pay the premium of exceptional quality and environmental and social benefits the blanket helps create.
What problem are you trying to solve?
I think that, simply put, we’re trying to solve the problem of lack of fair wages for marginalized women in India. We are working to empower these women who don’t have another opportunity to leverage themselves out of poverty.
How did you become interested in this problem?
Three years ago my husband and I went to India and worked with a mission dedicated to empowering and creating opportunities for the untouchables. It was there when I saw that the only way to empower and help them improve their lives was through creating a way for them to earn a fair wage. On top of realizing this I saw the need to create self sustainability through a business or livelihood rather than a band aid approach.
I have also been a designer in the field for a long time and so after my time in India I saw that there was an opportunity to have design be a form of empowerment. I saw a number of NGOs that were producing handicrafts but that they weren’t at a level that was ready for the US market. So began thinking about how to bring the work I saw to a US market. Using my marketing and design skills I went to work on Ellie Fun Day to cater to a global market and help really create change and empower our women artisans to become sustainable.
What do you see as the solution to the problem?
I see the work being done with Ellie Fun Day as a way to provide a particular group of talented and hardworking women with a safe and positive work environment. Through their work they earn a livable fare wage. I also see our model as having the potential to incorporate other sewing centers in the area as we scale.
What are your major challenges?
Our biggest challenge has been sourcing. Organic fabric is very hard to find and because we are a small manufacturer we have to compete with bigger companies who can get a better price for fabric.
Another challenge comes from the cultural differences and communication barrier. For example in the US we take for granted that everything is high quality or that we get what we’re expecting. In India that isn’t the case so we have to work with our artisans to make sure that no subpar products go out. Its really important for us to have good quality management on the ground..
How has your time with the William James Foundation helped you?
It was just incredibly valuable to get the information from the reviewers. They gave us really good feedback that we could incorporate into our business model and practices.
We are also in the process of scheduling some meetings with readers.
What other resources have you found to be helpful?
We have found very useful information from the Skoll Foundation, Stanford Social Edge and other ethical clothing networks.