“You are never too young to do anything. Find your passion and find people to support you. Age is really just a number,” Aneesha Raghunathan tells us at The WALK as we sit down for an interview. Aneesha does not just say this, she lives by it. Taking a brief glance at what she’s involved in, calling Aneesha is a busy girl may be a bit of an understatement.
A freshman in the College, Aneesha is not only a member of Sigma Kappa’s newest pledge class, deeply involved in the Penn Society for International Development, a Penn International Business Volunteer, and a consultant for NGOs in Thailand, she is also the CEO and founder of her own fashion line, Hope Line Fashions,Inc. I had the chance to interview Aneesha about the company where she gave me some great insight on Hope Line Fashions, and the challenges of being an entrepreneur.
The company was inspired by a vacation to India where Aneesha took sewing classes from a local shop: “The place was basically like a one car garage converted into a workshop. The women sat on the floor, elbow to elbow and it was unbearably hot. I stayed there to learn how to sew. I could always go back to my grandmother’s house, but they worked late into the night. The lighting was terrible and the floor was pretty dirty too. To make matters worse, there was a ditch running right outside of the place where there would be flies, mosquitos and stray dogs.”
Aneesha decided she wanted to do something to help the young 19-20 year-old women who were suffering in these sweatshops. So she launched her own fashion line, Hope Line Inc, that would produce clothing and ensure these women received fair wages under well lit working conditions that met international standards.
Not only does the company work towards helping these women in the sweatships, Hope Line also distributes textbooks and school supplies to impoverished villages and schools in India, as well as offers scholarships to young girls. By using 100% of these profits towards women and concentrating the money towards specific projects, Hope Lins is working to make the dreams of many women come true. A look at the fashion statement reveals this goal: “Hope Line garments are all about empowerment. In every stitch. From the first steps of the shirt making process, to the end result, Hope Line prides itself on being committed to help women all around the world feel, look and BE great.”
Looking forward, some of Aneesha’s short term goals for her company include raising capital and increasing awareness on campus. She is interested in learning as much as she can from other experienced travelers and people who have researched working conditions in developing countries. She hopes more students will get involved to help her flesh out the weaker spots in the company and contribute to a growing Hope Line. One of her biggest goals is to launch a men’s line in the near future — an exciting addition for the company.
Aneesha offers a unique and important outlook on the fashion industry: “You can’t stereotype fashion. I hate limiting the definition of fashion, the purpose of fashion, and fashion’s impact to the labels that people wear. Fashion connects people globally — just look at where clothing is made. Styles of clothing borrow fabric, trends and styles from different decades and different parts of the world. Fashion has something for everyone.” Aneesha’s label certainly exemplifies the impact fashion can have: she has taken a fashion statement and turned it into a statement on, and for, humanity.