The Ethics Behind What You Wear

Going to India and Interning- All While A Freshmen

Breaking the generally accepted stigma that freshman can’t find meaningful internships, Navya Kaur, gives us the inside scoop on what it’s like to shadow and work for an amazing mentor her freshman year of college. Her first internship, did what every internship should do, giving her the motivation to continue on her journey towards her dream career in fashion and not let go of who she is. She is an inspirational trendsetter that is going to show the world that it’s not hard to be stylish and socially aware of the current ethical problems the fashion industry faces.   

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Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

I am a double Merchandising and Digital Retailing major with a minor in Business. I am a sophomore. My biggest dream in life is to own my company and I really want to become an ethical fashion retailer because I think we tend to forget about the importance of sustainability and making sure that we are putting the people that work at big corporations have a viable place to work. It is important to make sure the environment is safe and healthy. Ideally I’d like to start working with third world countries and work with the artists there. I would like to bring their craft back here and sell it because the stuff they do is beautiful and I think it’s so underrated. Eventually, I want to have my own company doing this or become a fashion journalist. My other passion is writing and I actually have a blog that I work on all the time. In my free time, I’m looking at Vogue magazines and working on my blog.

What is your blog about?

I noticed that a lot of fashion bloggers have these beautiful pictures, but they don’t have any good copy to go with it. I was trying to find a good balance between having really good pictures and having meaningful copy to go with it. Whatever is going on with me personally or in the world I talk about that. I’m trying to work on a piece right now about the current political situation and I’m wearing like red, blue, and white. I just really enjoy writing about things that matter and tying that into fashion.

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What started your interest in blogging?

I was fixated on fashion, but my other passion is writing. It was really difficult because I couldn’t decide between the two. So for awhile I thought I wanted a journalism degree and I was really involved in the Journalism department in high school. I was editor-in-chief of the yearbook. Leaving high school, I didn’t want to give that up completely, so I thought having a blog in college would keep me on my toes and I still practice writing. I thought, not only will I have my degree, but I also have this blog because I really care about this. Ideally I would have a business and I would still get to write every day. Blogging is a really good way for me to project. I think that a lot of people just dismiss fashion as being a very materialistic and shallow world, which it can be, but I also think that it has a lot of meaning because what you wear shapes how you act and the situations you’re in. It just really says a lot about your environment and who you are as a person. I like to write about that and talk about what I am wearing and why it’s significant. I like to write about what’s going on in the world.    

Where did you hear about your internship?

It was my first semester at college and I was in Ms. Zorola’s Intro to Merchandising class. I really wanted to make the most of my college experience, so this woman named Marissa Heyl came in to talk to us about her company called Symbology. She works with artists in India and creates fashion apparel. It’s different than others because it’s very trendy and that’s exactly what I wanted to do. She came in as a guest speaker and afterwards I was really interested in talking with her about NuView. I was a writer at that point and I wanted to interview her. I wanted to ask her what it was like to have a fashion startup because it’s just so competitive. So I got her information and her contact. I did a phone interview with her and while we were talking we just really hit it off because we had the same beliefs and values on how important sustainability and ethical fashion are. Throughout the year, I just did a lot of different projects with her. I created a line sheet for her, attended a fashion show, and went to market with her to model her clothes. So by the time May rolled around she offered me an internship.    

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Any great experiences from your internship?

The coolest thing was that I was actually in India for six weeks this past summer for a family wedding and Marissa’s production facilities were actually only thirty minutes away from where I was staying and she had her spring collection being produced at that time. So I actually got to go where the production was happening and talk to the artists and interview them. I got to really see the process first hand and it was such a cool experience. I got to talk to the woman who was in charge of it and we talked about the design for her next tunic top. We talked about what the placement would be and what colors we would use. I got to see the fabrics she was using and whether the shades and quality were going to be right. Really just being in India and seeing the production first hand was so amazing because I got to see all this work that I was doing here in Grapevine, Texas come to life.

What did you learn from your internship?

Work ethic is so important because I remember that one of the biggest reasons she even offered me an internship as a Freshman in college is because I have personally been raised that if I make a commitment and there is a deadline I keep within that deadline and make sure not to disappoint someone who is relying on me. I think the most important thing you can do, whether it’s with your personally life, your job, or with school, is to just make sure that you really have that great work ethic. Follow those deadlines and put in your all. Just really do the best you can because people really do appreciate that. Even if you mess up they see that you are trying your hardest and that’s enough.

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What were some of your proudest moments from the internship?

Honestly, the entire internship I was just so filled with pride. I don’t know how it happened, but this awesome opportunity just fell into my lap, which combined fashion with these super important social issues that are so important to me. I had this awesome internship opportunity for me to spend my summer days just working with clothes and these awesome people that have the same mission that I do and making an impact on these tiny villages in India. It was so fulfilling. So really I don’t think I could pinpoint one moment it was just so gratifying and satisfying to have the whole experience in general.

Do you have any advice for someone looking for an internship or starting one?

You really don’t know where your opportunity is going to come from. You have to look in the weirdest places. Networking is so important because you build these relationships and that’s where the opportunities arise. I literally spoke to Marissa once after class and we had one interview and this amazing relationship came out of it and I had this great opportunity. I am still in touch with her. She is coming to one of my meetings for a business organization I’m a part of and she’s going to be a guest speaker. I know that throughout my career as I progress I’m going to have this person that can vouch for me and say that I can do a good job and that’s so encouraging. You can’t just go to class and think that it’s enough. To really make the most of this experience you really have to go out of your way to find these opportunities and make the most of it and meet as many people as you can. At first it can be really difficult to push yourself to talk to people, but once you do you feel really good about it.

Anything interesting you want to add?

For my blog for sure, I definitely intend on keeping it and if something comes out of it that’s amazing. For me it’s really more of a hobby and an outlet for me to get my thoughts out. I really enjoy writing and I hope someday that my career leads me to a place where I can be in fashion and writing. As far as my internship, I am totally a proponent for ethical fashion and making sure that we are treating employers justly and being socially conscious. It’s so important to know the consequence of what you’re buying. This internship was really helpful because it gave me the confidence because I know that other people care about these issues which means that I can further my career in this. I definitely intend on keeping ethical fashion and sustainability at the forefront of what I do. It was definitely beneficial for my career because I have a better hold on it.    

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Is ethical awareness in fashion something that you practice in your personal life?

I try really hard to stay away from Forever21, H&M, and similar stores. I’ve actually started buying a lot of my clothes from India because I go there and I have family that visit so often. A lot of those clothes are handmade and you know exactly where they are coming from. You’re helping families in need. I just love the ethical and tribal look of Indian clothes. I also get a lot of my clothes from Buffalo Exchange in Dallas. I recognize that it’s a struggle because if you’re shopping ethically the price is raised and as a college kid you can’t really afford that. But I think just taking small steps everyday to just google where your clothes come from is good. For example: What are Forever 21’s factory regulations? Even if you can’t actively act on that in your everyday life and drop like three hundred dollars on a vegan leather purse, at least try to understand the consequences for where you’re shopping and what you’re doing. I’m trying, it’s a process and I think that as we, as a society become more aware of it, it will be easier to shop ethically.

Navya is definitely not your average college student. She stands out among a sea of students and wants everyone to understand that college is a once in a lifetime experience that you must take advantage of fully. Her passion and honesty is inspiring and uplifting. To read more about Navya’s internship and travels check out her blog and Instagram.

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Visit Navya’s blog, thewitchclique.com and follow her on instagram @navyakaur.

Words by Rikki Willingham

Edit by Carolina Gonzalez and Maia Wilson

Photos from Navya

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