We spoke with marketing expert and founder of online blog The Tejori, Saika about her ambition to normalise secondhand fashion in South Asian communities.
What is your ethnic, academic and professional background?
I am a Pakistani marketer and hold an MSc in corporate communications and BA in marketing management.
What is The Tejori? How did it come about and what are your main values as a business?
Tejori is an online personal blog about all things related to South Asian fashion and sustainability. We intend to educate and encourage the Asian market on sustainable practices. Additionally, we intend to break down societal norms and boundaries around sustainable fashion, secondhand lifestyle and societal pressures we all face when it comes to fashion and moving trends.
Behind the scenes we are also working on a project to introduce a platform where pre-owned items can be bought and sold in order to achieve our goal to normalise thrifting and wearing secondhand clothes among our communities, as well as promoting how easily everyone can take part in sustainable actions when it comes to ethnic fashion.
Originally, The Tejori was established in 2017 after I personally faced wardrobes and suitcases full of clothes only worn once, of which many I didn’t want to be seen in twice! It’s then the idea of thrifting, revamping or reselling came to me.
What inspired you to act as a catalyst for sustainable practice? Is there a particular story you can share?
Coming from a family who have a passion for fashion and clothes and keeping up with Asian fashion trends, between us we have rooms and rooms full of clothing and we need a solution!
Being South Asian, did you face any backlash for your sustainable business idea from family, friends or society at large? How did you overcome it?
A lot of people think no one will want to wear secondhand clothes and it’s not normalised to do so in our communities. Also, people don’t want to be seen buying secondhand clothes, as well as selling their old clothes because of an issue around anonymity!
To address this the blog intends to make sustainable actions ‘cool’, highlighting the latest articles from relevant brands and celebrities who have taken on more sustainable approaches. We also want to highlight those who have applied sustainability to their business models – it’s all about changing the mindset and that’s what the blog intends to achieve.
How have you actively changed your daily practice to be more sustainable?
I try to make my clothing last longer by revamping them to change the style and only buying what I really need. If I do buy new, I always consider the quality so the outfits last longer.
Do you feel there is a stigma or lack of understanding of the climate crisis amongst South Asian communities? What do you believe the blockers to be and how would you go about solving the issues?
Yes I do believe there is a lack of understanding as people don’t take it seriously. In the fashion market, consumers always want to be seen with the latest items and would do anything to make sure they are up to date with trends.
Sustainable practices are at the end of their thinking and decision making process. Also a lot of people are unaware of the consequences to the environment and if they were educated on how easy it is to apply simple things to their daily lives to help the environment, I’m sure people would act! Educating our communities is key and someone needs to take responsibility for taking it forward.
Do you find such a lack of understanding makes having a sustainability-led business like yours more challenging?
Yes it is more challenging but not impossible. My outlook is, if every other industry is on the being more sustainable ‘bandwagon’, the South Asian fashion market is only going to get left behind if brands and designers aren’t aware to make changes. We need to continue to highlight the issues, which we try to do through our daily stories and news.
What advice would you give to younger generations in relation to sustainability and the environment?
It’s not hard to apply small changes to your daily life, everyone has to do their part to bring positive change. In terms of thrifting, it’s very cost effective – we believe being able to purchase quality-designer items second hand, will attract the younger, student market.
Can you share one life story which has deeply impacted you?
Once I was able to sell some of my lightly worn wedding wear to a friend who had a last minute wardrobe malfunction. This really highlighted that rather than just getting rid of my expensive clothes or storing them away in suitcases (which many South Asians do!) we can become more circular in practice by just selling them on. This is the foundation of what initiated the idea of Tejori in the first place!
Follow The Tejori on Instagram