Changewear is committed to supporting women where they are. We believe that supporting each other, no matter the circumstances or story, creates a movement to empower each other. By celebrating our differences, sharing challenges and acknowledging our wins, we shine light on our tenacity, resilience and strength.
Changewear is pleased to present a series featuring inspiring women and their amazing accomplishments and impact. By highlighting and sharing each woman’s story and passionate endeavors, we can build each other up, spread the word, create a meaningful network of support and share stories of how women are Creating Change Where They Are.
We are pleased for you to meet Shannon Keith, CEO and founder of Sudara. Sudara is a company which embodies the heart-warming qualities of social enterprise in every way. Sudara works to empower women, end human trafficking, and embrace the power of social enterprise to create deep, sustainable impact. Sudara creates loungewear, robes and pajamas while working to end human trafficking by providing hope, freedom and opportunity through living-wage jobs, skills training, and education to women in India.
Changewear: Please tell us about your business and how you came to create it.
Shannon Keith: I traveled often but my trip to India in 2005 struck me in a way that I couldn’t ever forget. I saw firsthand the tragedy that was occurring daily to women and girls throughout the country. After visiting one of India’s many red light districts, I realized what was occurring was modern day slavery. I heard story after story of young girls sold into the sex trade by their families, orphans picked up off the street by pimps, and even young mothers just trying to feed their children. Many were held against their will. Others were trapped by economic poverty. Worst of all were the stories of those who managed to escape the brothels only to return due to social stigma with no other way to survive.
These realities forever changed me. The women I met and heard about needed an alternative -- a safer, sustainable source of income. I came back to the States after that trip and got a few friends together. We researched groups in India that were providing job-skills training programs and what products are in-demand and easy for someone to sew. Out of that research came a partnership with a center in India and a pattern for Punjammies pajama pants. I founded Sudara (then known as International Princess Project) the following year (2006) and we were able to employ six at-risk women to create Sudara’s products.
CW: Change is a big part of our brand and we believe in effecting change where you are and that even the smallest change can bring about huge benefits. What are some changes that you made in your life that had great impacts on you or others around you?
SK: One of the most obvious was changing my mind and buying behaviors around consumer products and ethical supply chains. It's affected me and my family and how we consume and it's also changed the lives of anyone who's been involved with Sudara, as an employee, customer, partner in India, etc. I think that this change reflects how changing a mindset, will lead to changes in behaviors and eventually habits that have a profound effect on you as an individual and then ultimately your community/network is also impacted via proximity and a ripple effect.
CW: What are some ways that we can help support you? What would you like us to know?
SK: We’d love for you to gift Sudara goods this holiday season and tell friends and family about us, too! Each of us have the ability to rethink how and where we are spending our money; it’s our purchase power. We can choose to shop with ethically-made brands and brands that are giving back and those who are transparent about their supply chain. From a sustainability perspective, we can also choose to repurpose the clothes in our closet for another season rather than purchase new every season, have clothing swaps with friends (this has been popular among the Sudara team!) and shop consignment / thrift stores.
CW: What are you most looking forward to in your immediate future?
SK: Spending time with my family cooking and eating amazing food and being cozy over the holidays. I also really love to snowboard and I'm praying for good snow to arrive soon!
CW: Changewear is excited to support you because of the thoughtful and impactful changes your are creating. To allow us to follow you and advocate, please share your social media and contact information.
Thank you! You can find us most places @sudaragoods.
Shannon, Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed and sharing your greatness with our Changewear community. We wish you the very best as you continue making a lasting and positive impact on the world!
Michelle and The Changewear Team
Creating Change Wear (Where) You Are™