Samita Bhattacharjee, founder of Deidaa, is an eco-entrepreneur and a fashion academic. Samita has a Master’s degree in Fashion Design with honours from Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand. For nearly a decade, Samita was the Coordinator of Major Studies (Fashion and Costume Design) at the Academy of Design Australia (AoDA), Port Melbourne. She lectures at international conferences and write articles on sustainable and ethical fashion and eco- textiles in Australia, New Zealand, and India. Samita spreads the eco and ethical message through her social platforms.
Samita won our 2020 Ausmumpreneur Awards 2020 silver trophy in the Sustainability category (VIC-TAS).
When did you start your business?
I started my business in Australia in 2008. I am a serial entrepreneur. I have run fashion businesses – manufacturing, export, bricks and mortar stores and e-commerce – in India and New Zealand.
What was the inspiration behind starting this business?
Early in my career, I began to work with the artisan communities. I witnessed crafts and craftspersons perishing due to lack of support. I could foresee the devastation that would follow in the wake of fast fashion and assembly line production. I detected a need to include contemporary and marketable products in the artisans’ repertoire. This inspired me to launch a business that would foster artisan communities and support sustainable practices.
What are you most excited about in your business?
After years of relentless work, I have been able to create a loyal following for Deidaa’s handcrafted products and eco-textiles. Deidaa is a force to reckon with in eco and ethical fashion worldwide.
Deidaa is about preserving tradition and retaining self-respect. Mass production robs artisans of creative satisfaction. Deidaa contributes to artisans’ material and emotional wellness by creating a demand for artisan crafts. I have empowered artisans in Australia, New Zealand, South Asia, and South-East Asia. I mentor eco – business owners. I work closely with non – government organisations and women’s cooperatives e.g., Langa’fonua’ A Fafine Tonga or the Tongan Women’s Cooperative. I was a finalist at the Style Pasifika Fashion Awards in Auckland, New Zealand for two successive years.
What has been the most challenging thing about starting your business?
In the initial years, I struggled to get recognition for artisan crafts and hand made products. It was a David and Goliath battle between a small business and store chains peddling fast fashion. I spoke about the evils of fast fashion. I highlighted the need to preserve and expand artisan crafts. I introduced eco-textiles like organic cotton and vegan silk long before they became household names.
What advice would you give to other women thinking about starting a business?
I would advise someone thinking about starting a business to enrol in a relevant academic course. Learning gives clarity to ideas, adding focus and substance. It is also important to have on the job experience. Learning on the shop floor or internship gives an insight into the day-to-day running of a business e.g., product knowledge, human resource and supply chain management, risk management and trouble shooting. A start-up business calls for qualities like professionalism and diligence. Most important among these qualities is perseverance. In the initial years, challenges faced by a business are many. Perseverance helps a business owner tide over the initial challenges and make progress.
Why did you enter the AusMumpreneur Awards?
I work with eco-textile farmers and weavers. I am closely integrated with artisan communities in different parts of the world. I entered the Ausmumpreneur Awards because this award would be a validation of my work with the producers of organic textiles and artisan communities. It would bring much needed attention to eco-cultivators and artisans of handmade. It could make a difference between survival and extinction.
What did you enjoy the most about being part of the awards?
I enjoyed being part of a vibrant community of entrepreneurial women. It was a cohort of women passionate about following their dreams. I forged new ties and revived old ones. The dialogue continues, beyond the awards. We, the Ausmumpreneurs, have formed an eco-system that nurtures and upholds the entrepreneurial spirit of women.
What surprised you most about the awards?
The ramifications of the Ausmumpreneur Awards are far-reaching. The ripple effect continues a year after I won the award. Deidaa has become a house hold name in eco-fashion and lifestyle products. I am approached by YouTubers and vloggers for interviews. I have landed new wholesale accounts.
How did the awards help you in your business?
The award was validation of my work with the producers of organic textiles and artisan communities. It brought much needed attention to eco-cultivators and artisans of handmade.
This award put the spotlight on Deidaa’s Australia inspired fashion and lifestyle products. It highlighted Deidaa’s involvement with community projects. I sell products made by Australian makers on Deidaa’s e-commerce store. I mentor start-up design businesses. Australian designers are a part of the Deidaa team. This award brought the Australian makers to the forefront. It benefitted Deidaa’s mentorees and Deidaa team members.
What advice would you give to others mums thinking about entering the awards?
The Ausmumpreneur awards provide a complete package. Go with an open mind. Build bridges, network and savour the experience.
Winning an award is a bonus
What’s happening next in your business? Any big plans for the future?
We are working on new and innovative products. Our eco-warriors – organic toys made from surplus fabric and PET bottles will welcome new recruits. Deidaa’s R&D team is passionate about arriving at sustainable solutions to problems that afflict the environment and communities. At Deidaa, we believe dissemination of knowledge about sustainability, artisan-made, art and culture goes hand in hand with creation of eco-products. Learn with Samita, Deidaa’s YouTube channel imparts this knowledge. It is entertaining and informative. We will consolidate Learn with Samita in 2021. Our goal is to reach every corner of the earth with Deidaa’s eco-message.
All images featured here are from Deidaa.
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