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Revolutionizing the Fashion Industry; The Ethical Way

What if there was a more innovative way to improve your people's quality of life through fashion? It's not uncommon for young brands to be taught to operate in their own traditional way. However, in our current environment and state of the fashion industry, we have to figure out how to do things differently. Shivam Punjya, the founder of behno, came from a non-conventional background, yet continues to impact the Fashion Design Industry by transforming workers' lives.

Please meet Ethical Fashion Festival guest Shivam Punjya of behno

Shivam Punjya is the founder and creative director of Behno, a New York-based clothing and handbag company that was founded with a desire to improve the way the fashion industry approaches manufacturing. Shivam established the company not only to showcase impressive craftsmanship, but also to support India's garment workers -- most of whom are women, and can earn less than a dollar per day. In pursuit of this goal, the brand created "The Behno Standard," a set of six operating tenets aimed at advancing the livelihood of its artisans. Across its factories, each female colleague is addressed by the name behn ("sister" in Hindi), symbolizing the sisterhood of empowered employees the brand strives to create.

In this Fireside Chat during our Ethical Fashion Festival, Shivam shares the unique path he took to become an entrepreneur, finding his place in the fashion industry, and using his undergrad experience to help him move forward. He explains why he encourages his team to dream big, learn, make mistakes and not be afraid to work for companies that don't do things like traditional ones, and how his "Behno Standard" principles have helped them grow into the fashion label company they are now.

Listen in on our Fireside Chat video, or listen to the audio with ifd Soundbites:

Key Highlights:

  • Shivam's professional background and personal story, including how he became an entrepreneur despite having no background in the fashion industry (01:26)

  • What Shivam's experience brought to the founding of Behno, and how the company developed in the fashion industry and international development space( 04:14)

  • What it means to work with a community that's been marginalized and neglected by so many people in the industry (06:16)

  • Shivam's purpose in creating a factory led him to create luxury products that saw manufacturing from a completely different perspective (06:49)

  • How being an undergrad was an impactful experience for Shivam, which contributed to his success later on (09:33)

  • Their brand name Behno, what it means, and why it affects so many factories in India (13:06)

  • Behno: A personal name for people getting to know their grassroots partners on a very personal level (14:24)

  • The Six Guiding Standard principles of Behno as a brand include access to healthcare services, education, and transportation (14:36)

  • Why choosing good partners is critical to putting together a diverse and fit team ( 17:48)

  • What kind of world change would you like to see Behno make? (20:29)

  • Shivam recalled stories of individuals who inspired him and gave him a renewed appreciation for what his branding company can accomplish (37:56)

What is the Garment Worker Project and The behno Standard?

"Through the Garment Worker Project, behno’s founder, Shivam Punjya, invited fashion photographer Dan Smith and documentary filmmaker Kent Mathews to MSA Ethos to explore the less visible side of fashion. While Smith captured the unique individuals of MSA Ethos through an emotional series of intimate portraits, Mathews documented their personal stories and the unique infrastructure of the factory through documentary film."

Envisioning manufacturing to be radically different.

Shivam Punjya, created a space where garment workers, artisans, and factories are an intimate part of a brand’s core DNA.

Behind the Scenes:

Luxury bags from behno collection

Learn more about:

  • the behno Ethical Philosophy

  • The Garment Worker Project

  • The exquisite handwork from their artisanal hand-embroidery workshop

  • the handwoven Silks

  • Supporting non-profits such as the National Downs Syndrome Society

  • Partner factories

  • View the ethical benefits behind each product

"The Bag of the Moment" & its social benefits

To shop, support, or reach behno visit:

  • Behno’s website

  • Shivam Punjya on Linkedin

  • Shivam Punjya on Instagram

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Hey there, lovely fashion friends! My name is Britta Cabanos, and I'm thrilled to have you here! 


I'm a 25+ year fashion industry design professional, and I'm passionate about supporting conscious designers, ethical makers, and sustainability. I believe that fashion can be a powerful force for good, and I'm committed to helping aspiring fashion industry pros make their mark in this exciting and ever-changing field. 


If you share my passion for conscious fashion and sustainability,  then you're in the right place. I offer industry insights, mentorship, connections, and resources to help you achieve your goals and make a positive impact in the world. Let's connect and explore the possibilities together - are you ready to join me on this exciting journey?

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Consciously & Ethically Designed

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About the Book

"Conscious design is a philosophy used at the Peterman Design Firm. We use it to create brands and products that restore and sustain our planet. The Peterman Method for conscious design is the culmination of Ian’s 15+ years working in product development and Jessica’s 20 years in working as a healer and studying regenerative technologies and tools for both people and our planet. Together, we’ve written this book to lay out a culmination of our combined experiences. Our goal is to help other people start looking at the world, and design, in a more conscious way."

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