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From its inception, Fazl has been about love; loving orphans and loving local Himalayan artisans, but also the love between two people who ended up being partners in both life and business. Vanessa and Mike met once upon a time in North India while on a trip volunteering at orphanages. This proved to be a trip that would change their lives. In 2015, they moved from Canada to a tiny Himalayan single-road village so that they could serve the orphanage children long-term. Downstairs from them lived Jalebi, their cow with a weakness for mango peels.
For many years, Mike had long harboured a dream of setting up a social enterprise to help create sustainability for the orphanages. While in a bazaar one day, Vanessa held up a pair of handmade, local socks and asked, “What if we could support not only the children, but also the women who make these products too?”
Inspiration struck and Mike put together a business plan. Six months after their move to India, with the help of their business partners, they crammed 400 socks into vacuum-sealed bags, stuffed them into their suitcases, and flew back to Canada to test the market. The socks were a hit!
Since then, Fazl has expanded into different regions of India and started new product lines, but ultimately, it’s a business about family. Along with Mike and Vanessa, the Fazl partnership includes Anand and Tsewang, a couple who grew up together in one of the orphanages and began dating while studying in college in Punjab. Anand oversees the Indian office, deals with suppliers, and handles all the finances. Tsewang is our Chief of Quality Control and Artisanal relations, ensuring that the quality of our work meets consumer demands while also helping to identify artisans in need and bringing them to the Fazl table.
Also on the team is Auntie Mawateii who is the founder of the same orphanage where Anand and Tsewang grew up. Aunti Mawateii is the motherhead of our company and grounds us with her love for everyone and wealth of experience. On the Canadian side is Cam, Vanessa’s brother-in-law who oversees the North American operations.
The number of orphans in India is nearly the entire population of Canada (35 million). India is home to more than one-third of all underweight children and 25% of the planet’s hungry people. In 2010, a third of the globe’s exceptionally poor (those surviving on less than $1.25 a day) lived in India. We are seeking to respond to a crisis.
Every time you purchase Fazl, you help to provide food, shelter, education, and clothing to orphaned and destitute children in India. We are committed to supporting orphanages in India that care for vulnerable children and we dedicate 50% of our net profits to this cause. Our company grew out of a deep love for these homes and the sacred work they do.
When you purchase Fazl, you are also supporting dignified employment to artisans in need. We give fair wages to the women in our community who handcraft every item. These are women who possess amazing skills yet were struggling financially before we met them. Our knitwear and handloom collections are made from designs indigenous to the Himalayan people and Mizo people, respectively. We are humbled to be able to support their beautiful traditions and watch as artisans pass their designs from mother to daughter, down through the generations.
The yarn we use is 100% vegan and comprised of a blend of 80% acrylic and 20% nylon. It’s what we like to call Synthetic Wool. Super soft and toasty warm (just like sheep’s wool), our vegan yarn isn’t itchy and doesn’t cause allergic reactions (unlike sheep’s wool). Our yarn is ultra-durable and ethical so you can be confident that what you’re wearing will last while doing people good. Currently, we’re looking into sourcing yarn made from recycled materials. We want to take sustainability to the next level.
We believe in empowering all people to live according to their local standards of wellbeing, happiness, and dignity. To that end, we strive to provide sustainable solutions to poverty and believe that every act of consumerism counts.
We invite you to join us in this movement. Wear the change you want to see in the world.