A couple months ago, we spent some time in India to get up close and personal with the production process. Our last stop was Delhi, where we visited our Fair Factory and did exciting things like try out samples of new products we’re planning for and go over different textiles to see what else we can experiment with. But the most significant takeaway from our time there was meeting the people who are a part of our clothing’s making. To know their names, talk to them, connect with them face to face, and see the pride they have for what they do – there is so much more meaning in that.
This is Mr. Sarna, the founder of Mega Vick Wear – the Fair Factory that we have been working with since MATTER started. Being a fair factory means that every part of their business, from the way employees are treated and paid, to factory architectural details like the width of the aisles, wattage of light, and amount of fresh air – is according to compliance standards. Being the founder of the Fair Factory also means he’s a busy man, but we asked him for an hour of his time to learn more about the intentions and journey of his Fair Factory.
Here are 6 questions asked, and answered by Mr. Sarna of Mega Vick Wear.
Tell us more about the beginnings of Mega Vick Wear.
Before Mega Vick Wear, I was first a systems man working with automobiles. It was the thing to do back then, going into a mechanical industry. Starting my own business in ‘93 was a difficult decision to make, because I had been doing what I’ve been doing for 27 years it was the most familiar thing to me. But it was also a challenge I happily accepted.
I love fabrics. I really do, I had a passion to fit garment with impeccability. Every detail is important to me.
I knew there were others who wanted to leave the automobile industry so when Mega Vick Wear had one foot on the ground, I asked them to join me and put them in the other departments. And now, there are 200 people who work here. All these people, they’re assets, they are the future. Every single one of them contribute something important to what we are building here.
Whatever you do, do it well, otherwise don’t do it at all. My mother taught me this, and it’s something I carry with me through the years. If you love something, you’ll always want to look at it. It brings a smile to your face and it moves you to go at it with all your heart and mind, to go in love – and that’s how I feel about Mega Vick Wear.
You place a lot of value on people, what’s the relationship you have with the people you work with?
One thing you learn in this business is that brands come and go. Nothing is permanent. Fashion is always changing and with production we find ourselves playing catch up. In the same way, people also change. There’s so much more to a lasting business than profit, and integrity is the important distinction.
Our factory has been in the same location for 25 years now, and so much has changed in the years. Wages are higher in Delhi than other states and so more people would migrate over here, so there’s always people who want to join. Yet at the same time, lots of people leave the industry. Our edge is that we pay more and we offer a better quality of working conditions. My employees stick around because I have not given them a reason to leave me.
When we were young we were taught different things and today the whole value system has changed completely. Job security was so important back then, and I wanted Mega Vick Wear to be a place that understood the assurance of that. So I always felt that there had to be an open door policy for the people I work with, that they feel secure enough to speak to me if they wanted to.
I belong to them, and they belong to me.
I connect with them, I know what goes on in their lives, and they feel free to come to me and speak about things that they are struggling with. If even one word I said helped them, then I consider myself lucky.
What is it like working with family?
It’s a challenge working with my children. There’s positive and negatives to it, like all things. But at the end of the day, our relationship is wonderful. Sonica follows after me a lot, with her internship she worked directly with me for 5-8 years and I really trained her then. I have my ways of training people! But she has this resilient spirit and she can take the stress. Working with artisans requires two things: passion and energy. You spend money investing and sometimes you get less, and you have to understand that and be okay with it. Sonica gets that fully and she is amazing at what she does. She communicates well with the artisans and to do that, you have to be relational, and you have to build this mutual understanding of faith and trust. Having them place their confidence in you takes time and patience. Her relationship with the artisans are all a testament to who she is.
She graduated with five trophies, it was a very proud moment for me as a father. She’s the kind of person who would do everything herself, and she takes on so much. She understands compassion so well, and she has so much of it, Project Thrive is a natural extension of that.
Why artisan fabrics?
Because I feel that we have to give back in some way. I sleep on a good bed and I have much that I am thankful for, and I just want to treat the next person better. It’s always about the people. I say that a lot because I really believe it. Mega Vick Wear is a fair factory, and being fair trade means being fair to your suppliers, even the staff in your house – it’s not just one category of people, it’s across the board.
What brings you meaning?
Many things really. Reaching the end of something you worked really hard for. Or even in the little things. One time I tripped in the factory and five people came running over to see if I was okay. That alone brought me so much happiness; knowing that they have the same compassion for me as I have for them – that’s an achievement.
In life you’re known for what you give, not what you take.
Alfred Nobel was the inventor of dynamite. In 1888, his brother Ludvig died and a French newspaper mistakenly thought it was him and they published the obituary with the title “The Merchant of Death is Dead”. That mistake was life-changing for him, because when he read it he realized he didn’t that to be his legacy. So he decided to leave his money and begin the Nobel Prizes, as a way to right his wrongs. What we give leaves a bigger impact than what we gave, and that’s what we’ll be remembered for.
What advice would you give us?
There was a business partner I was working with, and at first, there was a lot of suspicion because they were such a big company. But as we continued working together, we both became fast friends and there was a strong relationship that existed. In the industry we work in, there are strong economic curves with sharp peaks and growths. But relationships will never be outdated or old fashioned, relationships are important. Whether it’s when you’re building a business partnership or a personal relationship, relationships are so important and you will reap what you sow.
Get to know our fair factory here.