When Neesha Amrish started her label, aeshaane, in the early 00s, she was one of the few people conscious about slow and sustainable fashion. Our founding purpose was simple but powerful -- to provide a fairly-paid, dignified, and sustainable livelihood to artisans, with the objective of empowering them to achieve economic independence and create better lives for themselves. Behind each piece is a family and a whole ecosystem, which benefits directly or indirectly from the sale of our products, Neesha shared.The product line is diverse and eclectic; aeshaane predominantly creates scarves, and resort wear including capes, kimonos, and robes, along with accessories like upcycled cocoon necklaces, furoshiki bags and wrap cloths in organic cotton. My muse is someone who believes in less is more and is not afraid to be herself.Global footprintAmong the cluster of international stores that retail her designs is the Victoria Albert Museum in London. Her brand also retails across the globe, from Paris to Japan, and has been showcased in national and international fashion weeks. We've been told that our designs are contemporary with an Indian soul that is rooted in sustainability, explains Neesha. aeshaane celebrates the work of rural craftsmen from local communities to create visual masterpieces from vegan silk a cruelty-free cloth combined with the ancient technique of hand block printing. This, integrated with striking geometrical and nature-inspired patterns, blurs the line between traditional and modern. We craft a garment or accessory that is one-of-a-kind and has been touched in its own special way by experienced artisanal hands.Emily Crutcher of the Victoria Albert Museum London went on to say, We selected Neeshaa work as we were excited about the combination of striking geometric patterns and the use of traditional techniques and materials. The quality of the material and feel of the handwoven silk really stood out.How it beganNeesha spent her childhood dabbling with colour and craft ideas. Watching her grandmother stitch beautiful frocks was her first exposure to fabric, measurements, laces, embroidery, and colours. Spotting her natural flair, she was gifted a sewing machine of her own as an adult, but she decided to become a flight attendant instead. It was only five years later that she revisited the world of textiles and threads. She was encouraged by her mother-in-law to complete a formal course in design, and grow her label internationally, step-by-step.The artisanal touchToday, aeshane is not just known for its exquisite designs, but also for being a pioneer in the fair fashion movement. They use AZO-free and non-toxic dyes that have a low environmental impact. A brand should prioritise the working environment to label themselves sustainable, she says, referring to the hazardous conditions in which a lot of factory workers slave long hours to meet a low wage. We see ethical production as a prerequisite; a worker should be able to earn a fair living wage without having to work unbearable hours in an unhealthy environment.Neesha not only offers her artisans a safe and flexible working environment but also a space where their voices are heard and creativity is encouraged. The social impact we have on the communities with whom we partner is as important as the products we make. Since our projects are always community-driven, the ladies love working together. They also have the ability to work around their children, and options to participate in workshops and training programmes.Designing towards a better tomorrowOne of the focus areas of the brand is mitigating its carbon footprint and providing transparency to the consumer on the entire supply chain. The short supply chain has just four stages to produce the end product -- rearing the silk, spinning the yarn, weaving the fabric, and hand-printing it. At each stage, Neesha knows exactly who spun the fabric, who wove it, and who printed it for the end consumer, being on a first-name basis with each one of them. I dont think this poses any challenges. In fact, it is the other way round -- the smaller the supply chain and your team, the easier it is to have accountability and maintain quality.She adds, We are also transparent about prices since slow clothing is extremely labour-intensive and it is hard for small businesses to slash prices to match their counterparts. We believe consumers have the power to create change, by demanding ethically-made products, she says. We pay all our artisans fair wages above the established norm, for any work they do. Besides, we also take care of their housing benefits, healthcare, food, and safe drinking water. The income generated from every product you buy, helps us invest back into the artisan communities.aeshaane inclusivityAnother key focus area for social impact involves supporting the LGBTQ+ community. Shes worked actively with them for over half a decade now. I met Sunil Menon, Founder and Trustee of Sahodaran, the first community-based organisation in Chennai run by and for the transgender community. Sahodaran works with transgenders from low-income backgrounds that are at high risk for HIV/AIDS. They offer prevention and care services with social support, counselling and crisis intervention. I visited the centre for a few days, interacting with Jaya, General Manager, and other transgenders.The place was a riot of colour and laughter, as transgenders from across the city would drop in for lunch, seek advice regarding personal crises, practice for an upcoming dance performance, or simply rest and watch a movie. The centre owed its vibrancy to the fact that it was completely managed and peopled by the transgender community. This also made it a safe space for the members to find relief from the stigma they encountered in the outside world.She recalls that it was the year aeshaane turned seven, which also aligned with the seven beautiful colours in the rainbow associated with the LGBTQ+ community. We shot seven pictures titled ThiruNangai, which depicted the masculine and feminine side of the community. The life of a transwoman is akin to the transformation of a silkworm into a beautiful butterfly. What is in front of you is this idea, a reformed parallax of the transgender community, shown through the metamorphosis of the silkworm. Just as the silkworm goes through a spell of darkness in its cocoon, bearing all the pain while trapped inside, eventually finding a way to freedom and joy, transgenders also endure the same. Each picture represents this transformational cycle and is a strong narrative of their struggle.