Rivet is celebrating Women’s History Month with a series of Q&As with female leaders in the denim industry.
Artistic Fabric & Garment Industries director Aisha Javed was born into the denim industry.
Coming from a family of denim manufacturers, Javed was exposed to the world of denim early on. “As a young girl, I often accompanied my father to work and remember being fascinated by the women on the production floor and the amazing, meticulous work they did, bringing garments to life,” she said.
Giving back to the community has always been at the forefront of AGI’s philosophy, so when she joined the company after college, one of the roles Javed assumed was working in the Corporate Social Responsibility division. “I’m among the first generation of female directors/owners within the family business, so women specific initiatives were particularly interesting to me,” she said.
Here, Javed shares how her connection to the family’s business has grown stronger through programs that support female employees and promote a sustainable future.
Rivet: Did you have any female mentors?
Aisha Javed: The one woman I have always looked up to, trusted and learnt from, is of course my mother. She encouraged me to believe in myself and taught me how to successfully juggle the roles of a homemaker and entrepreneur—valuable lessons that I can now pass on to my daughter.
Rivet: Do you think companies in the denim supply chain could do more to support women?
AJ: The world is waking up to taking women more seriously. Women are doing important, meaningful sometimes dangerous jobs, and we all have a part to play to help them excel in their roles. I think it’s important to stop and ask ourselves what women’s concerns are and what’s stopping them from taking a seat at the table.
Companies across the denim supply chain from vendors to manufacturers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of enhancing women’s personal and professional growth.
Programs such as P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement and Career Enhancement), developed by Gap Inc. that is dedicated to supporting women who work in the global apparel industry and within their supply chain, or UNDP’s Youth Empowerment Program which facilitates young people in low income, informal settlements to gain garment industry employment are just a few examples of the efforts being made towards facilitating women in the workplace. These initiatives provide a great starting point for companies to build a supportive environment for women and aid in successfully ‘closing the gap.’
Rivet: What are you most proud of in your career?
AJ: My father is a trailblazer, he pushed for having more women in the workforce, and today our team is 60 percent female. He knows the ‘future is female’ and it’s an ethos he has instilled in the company.
I’m just at the start of my career, but I’m proud and humbled by what AGI stands for and has achieved in terms of gender equality and women empowerment.
We began the Artistic Cares Foundation in 2017, which covers our sustainability efforts and helps us engage with the community on different levels—whether its tree plantation drives, supporting community schools, or creating blankets out of recycled denim scraps for the homeless. Through programs like P.A.C.E (Personal Advancement and Career Enhancement) by Gap Inc. and UNDP’s Youth Employment Project (YEP), we have trained and employed over 1000 bright young individuals, and I’m amazed to see the profound differences they are making in their communities and teams.
More recently, we collaborated with doctHERS on their Smart Clinics venture that just won the Tommy Hilfiger Social Innovation Challenge. With these unique clinics, our female factory workers have access to a doctor and primary and secondary health care at factory premises, so they don’t have the inconvenience of commutes, queues, waiting times and lost income.
Rivet: What advice can you offer to people who are seeking a career in the denim industry?
AJ: Successful businesses are built on people, and establishing trust. It’s important to build those day to day relationships where we all help each other succeed. We live in exciting times, don’t be afraid to manage ambiguity and the unknown. Most importantly, believe in yourself. There’s no room for self-doubt.