"My goal is to constantly learn more about how businesses can serve society, especially in developing countries”. Said Lavanya Garg
Lavanya Garg is the co-founder of SUSS (Sustainable Style Speak) - India’s first homegrown community and movement to spark conversations around sustainable fashion. She earned an undergraduate degree in economics from Lady Shri Ram College (2015). In college, she co-founded Asmat, student-run NGO that has mobilized 200+ students in the last six years through rural volunteer programs.
Between 2013-15, as part of Asmat, she worked extensively in Village Soda, Rajasthan on gender, governance, and education issues which furthered her goal to work in development. Her first catalyst though was witnessing her family history of public work and growing up in remote parts of India.
Her entry into the sustainable fashion space was accidental. After graduating with a Masters in International and Development Economics from Yale University (2015) she started working in garment factories in Bangalore on academic research through the University of Michigan. The focus was women’s labor force participation and living conditions for migrant workers – both groups that together make up a majority among front line garment workers.
This sparked an interest in her to learn more about the lives of the women who make our clothes. As she discovered the multi-faceted nature of the lives of these women – their hopes and struggles - her interest in the role businesses that employ these women can play also grew.
A few months into the research work in factories, she transitioned to Good Business Lab in 2016 as their first employee and is now the Senior Strategy & Development Manager and Chief of Staff.
GBL is a not for profit labor research organization that designs, tests, and scales worker wellbeing programs in factories. It is now India’s largest apparel export house employing over 100,000 workers.
She played a key role in building the organization in India from the ground up. Gauri co-founded SUSS as a passion project in 2017 to connect with like-minded people in the sustainable fashion space in India. Over the last two years, the online and offline community has grown to include 650+ engaged community members and 700+ unique attendees at their 12+ events that include a clothes swap, factory tour, master class series, and several film screenings and panel discussions. They aim to drive conversations, build collaborations, and inspire action on sustainable fashion in India through these activities. Their mission is to build a narrative that includes voices from this part of the world - where clothes are made amidst a rich cultural heritage. Both SUSS and GBL bring together her interests in sustainable fashion and how businesses can serve society.
She confides in the philosophy of turning her frustration into curiosity, asking questions, and building solutions. She truly believes that fairy lights and poetry make the world a better place. Her passion and determination to give back to the community is a guiding force for the youth of our country. These heroic efforts are the reason for several workers’ happiness, as well as the impact she has had on her environment.
Authored by Aditya Anand