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Christchurch clothing entrepreneurs support Indian workers

For Samantha Jones and Hannah Duder, securing the biggest contract yet for their ethical clothing company means more than just sales.
Little Yellow Bird is now principal corporate clothing supplier for Christchurch's NZ Tax Refunds – a contract that allowed the company continue supporting its Indian factory workers.

"We want to be really clear that we are not just giving handouts – we want to sponsor people who want to change their lives," Jones said.

The business supports 26-year-old factory worker Kamakshi, who is now able to finish high school, an opportunity taken from her when she took a job to support her family.

Another factory worker, Priya, is completing a 12-month tailoring and pattern making course, with the support of Little Yellow Bird.
"Her dream is to have her own tailoring unit from her house so she can earn some extra money," Jones said.

In October 2015, the company won the University of Canterbury Entré Sustainability and Social Enterprise award, receiving $2000 prize money.

Jones recently returned from a month-long trip to India, partially funded by the Entré win, to see first hand where the clothes are made – an experience she said was "eye-opening".

"It was great meeting the people and hearing their stories, and learning about their lives and how different they are to ours."

Jones previously worked for the Air Force, where she studied international security. She was shocked to see how many people were living in "slave conditions".

"It's an unfortunate reality for a lot of people, and we didn't want to create a business that in any way contributed to that."
Hannah Duder, 23, joined the company in November 2015, hoping her Bachelor of Commerce in accounting and taxation would help grow the business.

"We've got three other customers who have bought shirts for their business, but [NZ Tax Refunds] is a big contract that we wanted to get."
She said NZ Tax Refunds founder and chief executive Cilla Hegarty had been very supportive, particularly of the ethical stance they have towards their workforce.

"They're a great first client because Cilla is very into the social side, which is really important for us." Hegarty said she met Jones and Duder at the world launch of Women's Entrepreneurship Day and was impressed with their motivation and passion for business.

"The concept of being able to support both their growth in New Zealand and a project in India is compelling," she said.
"I remember what it was like starting a new business and am always on the lookout to encourage and support new ventures that provide real world life changing events in people's lives."

Original article at  http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/better-business/76127208/christchurch-clothing-entrepreneurs-support-indian-workers

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