When we last visited the Mandala factory (formerly CAOS) we asked the people who make Visible t-shirts what they wanted you to know about them. Here are some of their answers.
Gomathi is one of the amazing people who stitched your t-shirt. She has worked at Mandala for one year having moved from stitching for a different employer. She chose to work at Mandala because of the strong emphasis on safety for women. She told us she doesn't feel in any danger working there and "the salary is good, consistent, and paid on time". We have come to learn how important it is to have the security of consistently being paid on time, and how uncommon this is amongst many employers. Gomathi has three dependants; her mother, sister, and brother. Because Gomathi has this job she told us her sister is able to study. Along with most other people we spoke to who are involved in making Visible t-shirts, Gomathi spoke of how proud she is of making such good quality clothes. She also proudly told us that "I have never taken a loan and have always stood on my own two feet". Her dream is to one day start her own tailoring shop.
Hema is an A-grade tailor and she is one of the people who made your Visible t-shirt all that it is. A-grade tailor means she is good, really good. She started as a C-grade tailor and has gradually worked her way up. She started at Mandala four years ago having previously worked at a different factory for two years. She wanted to work at Mandala because they make such good quality clothes, the variety of clothes makes the work challenging, and "the employee benefits are really unique". She told us with great appreciation about the recent health check ups that were paid for by Mandala. Hema told us about her husband who is a carpenter, and her two children. She is rightly very proud of her success in becoming an A-grade tailor. When we asked her what her dream is, we were blown away by her answer: "I would like to have my own business so that I can become just like Anjali (Founder and CEO of Mandala) and treat people the way she treats all of us"!
Aruna is one of the extremely skilled women and men who sew Visible's t-shirts. She has worked at Mandala for three years, prior to which she worked for three years in a different factory. Aruna told us that she was attracted to Mandala because of the opportunities to further develop her clothes making skills: "My skills and knowledge have developed significantly working here, I can now stitch a whole item of clothing to a really good standard. I do this for my children and people often ask me who made the clothes because they are such good quality! I learnt to do this through the care of Anjali and CAOS. On Sundays I use my skills to stitch for my neighbours. They give me the fabric and I make them nice clothes!" Aruna's husband is a bus conductor and they have two children. Her mother-in-law also lives with them. When asked what one thing she would want you to know about her, she said "I am a very good tailor and people always tell me that they enjoy it when I teach them how to stitch more complicated items". Aruna's dreams are for her children to be well educated so that they can achieve their dreams of being in the police and being a teacher.
Revathi is one of the people at Mandala that worked hard to sew your Visible t-shirt so expertly. As an A-grade sewer she has lots of experience as well as drive to succeed. She has worked at Mandala for three years and previously worked for eight years at a garment factory in Chennai. Revathi told us she chose Mandala because "I earn a regular salary here which is very important, I also earn an annual bonus, have access to loans, and I get medical treatment". Her dependants are her parents and older sister who has a medical condition. We asked Revathi what one thing she would want you know about her: "I would like people to know that it doesn't matter how complicated the work is - I always complete it. In fact, others pass on work to me if they feel it is very complex and they aren't willing to take the risk in trying to complete it themselves". Her dream? "To earn a good reputation at work and make my parents happy".
Vijaya and her colleagues have done such a good work of stitching Visible t-shirts that we regularly get feedback on the quality of our tees. Vijaya worked for six years at another company before starting at Mandala two years ago. She chose Mandala because the salary is much better than the previous company. Vijaya's son is her dependant and her dream is that she could keep helping him through his education. He is 18 year's old and is in his first year studying for a Bachelor of Pharmacy in Pondicherry. When asked what one thing she would want you to know about her, she said "I am good at my work. In all areas of my life I don't talk to much; I just say what is required".
It is also an honour to be able to give a brief introduction to the entrepreneur whose vision is behind the work of Mandala, where the above workers are employed.
What is your name?
What is your role at CAOS?
"I founded the company and am the Managing Director"
What motivates you?
"For me as a social enterprise the top line and the bottom line are important but the most important is the number of lives our work impacts. And the contribution to change our work brings."
Can you give us one example of what this means in practice?
"We primarily employ women as the money they earn is spent on their children's education. They do not hesitate to stitch any product category thus enabling the company to be more sustainable."
How is being fair important for you and your work at CAOS?
“Being fair is not an optional add-on; it is at the core of everything we do”