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GlobePreneurs Win: Svaha Challenges Gender Stereotypes in Clothing

Jaya Iyer wanted to live the American Dream, so she moved to the US from India carrying only a backpack full of ambition. She worked hard to obtain a Ph.D. in Fashion Merchandising (Iowa State University), taught Fashion Buying, and wrote a textbook on Fashion in Emerging Markets. After Jaya was unable to find an astronaut shirt for her space-obsessed daughter and had to buy one from the boys’ section, she saw a problem in the apparel industry and wanted to fix it.

Jaya teamed up with Eva Everett, a former Molecular Biologist who got fed up with people telling her that she did not ‘look like’ a scientist. Together they created Svaha apparel to challenge the gender bias that exists in the apparel industry.

‘Gender stereotypes exists in clothing at every age and our mission is to get rid of it – one piece of apparel at a time,’ says Jaya. Svaha believes that women should not have to choose between loving Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) and being feminine. The Svaha apparel line shows that ‘brainy is beautiful.’ Hon. Pauline Truong recently had discussions with Svaha regarding their traction and growing popularity in the U.S.A.


Where do you see Svaha five years from now?

Our goal is to be the go-to place for people who want to find clothes that defy gender norms. We started with children’s apparel, then very successfully moved into women’s clothing. We have big dreams for the expansion we are going to do next! Along with apparel, we hope to continue building our community and getting momentum behind our movement to fight for gender equality. 

 

Where is the clothing currently manufactured and what processes do you undertake to ensure your customers are satisfied with the end result?

The clothing is currently manufactured in India. We truly believe in using organic cotton and eco-friendly dyes and paying the people who make our clothes a living wage. The quality of our products is amazing, but this comes with a higher price tag than buying clothes at places like Target and Walmart. It can be difficult to convince people to pay a little bit more for clothes. However, we know from experience that once people buy from us, they come back for more! We think there are enough consumers out there who care about what we’re doing, and care enough about making ethical purchases to support companies, like us, who are trying to make a difference.

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What resistance and/or challenges have you faced with Svaha and your ideas?

With a limited marketing budget, reaching our customers has been our biggest challenge. But, now that we have so many customers who have bought our products, word of mouth has been a great one for us! We have the best customers and we want to continue making Svaha into a brand they adore!

If you started your company again, what would you do differently?

We believe that we have created a company that we always wanted to. We want to continue listening to our customers and make what would make them happy. There is nothing really we would have done differently. We will continue to make changes based on our customer demands.

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What is your advice for women who want to create change in the start-up arena?

Our biggest word of advice is to keep your eyes open and let your imagination run free. There are so many completely untapped markets out there in the apparel industry just waiting for the right entrepreneur to come along and find them. If you work hard and don’t give up on your dreams, the sky’s the limit in what you can achieve!

What is your advice for GlobePreneurs who want to live the American Dream?

You are lucky to live in an environment where anything is possible if you set your heart and mind into doing it. So, find an idea, stay focused, work hard, and achieve your American Dream!

Please feel free to send interview suggestions to Hon. Pauline Truong on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter!

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50 Comments

  1. May 3, 2017    

    This is actually pretty cool. You’re right though, it may be difficult, but if you’re stubborn enough, and just as creative, you can definitely make your mark in the apparel market.

  2. E H E H
    May 3, 2017    

    I have never heard of this fashion brand before. This is very interesting – the word “Svaha” actually means “a matchmaker” or also “a mother-in-law” in Russian, so it is a fun word to use – I love it when there is actually an inadvertent meaning in brand names. I absolutely love the clothing!

  3. Arra Odeza Arra Odeza
    May 4, 2017    

    If we really want to achieve something we must do our best and if ever we face trials just keep on trying. Svaha is an inspiration as well as the founder/business owners.

  4. May 4, 2017    

    Gender stereotypes frustrate me as well so I am so pleased that they are challenging this by showing that you can be both brainy and beautiful. It is important to show that women and girls are worth just as much as boys, we are equals x

  5. May 4, 2017    

    I would say that my American Dream is to not work for another person. This is hard as I don’t know what else to do.

  6. May 4, 2017    

    I love this idea!! As a teacher it would always bother me when I would tell a student you can be anything you want and they look at me like I am crazy, they would even say, that is a man’s job. I am all for this movement in gender neutral career attitudes!!

  7. May 4, 2017    

    Wow! Such a success story. I’m always so happy when I know women out there are challenging themselves to be successful, and helping others too. Well done. This is absolutely inspiring….let your imagination run free; I love that. Keep soaring high

  8. May 4, 2017    

    Belief, Challenging the existing process and Taking a Leap of Faith should make things possible. Markets overall are competitive, if you can connect with your customer base, you can get anything going. Easier said than done 🙂

  9. May 4, 2017    

    I agree, determination and will to achieve is a must when the discussion is about start-ups..It’s not easy to create a mark, but not impossible either..

  10. May 4, 2017    

    ‘Gender stereotypes exists in clothing at every age and our mission is to get rid of it – one piece of apparel at a time’ I love this. I would definitely want more brands with that mentality.

  11. May 4, 2017    

    I haven’t heard of this brand before, but I’m inspired by the mission and work ethic behind it! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Ali Rost Ali Rost
    May 4, 2017    

    What a cool little girl! I keep thinking it’s 2017 .. this shouldn’t be an issue anymore .. but alas. I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for the Svaha brand. Love to support brands with such a beautiful story!

  13. May 4, 2017    

    interesting concept and company. I have never heard of it before but now will have to take a closer look. I love companies that have some kind of message, besides simply making profit, blessings!

  14. May 4, 2017    

    A problem can be really an opportunity. We just have to be sharp enough and brave enough to create it. Really admire those who start this entrepreneurship and believe on the good cause they are creating.

  15. Great idea to challenge gender stereotypes and bring freedom to both sexes. I haven’t heard of this brand but I will definitely look out for them in future

  16. May 4, 2017    

    It can be so challenging to start and launch a new company. It is awesome that they are starting to achieve their goals and are successful. I hope they continue on their goal driven path and continue much success. I will definitely keep an eye out for Svaha.

  17. May 5, 2017    

    Such an inspiring woman! I love reading about success stories like this and I wish her all the best with her clothing brand!

  18. May 5, 2017    

    What a lovely, motivating story. I’m so glad that this lady was brave enough to challenge those stereo types. May the Svaha brand go from strength to strength.

  19. May 5, 2017    

    I love that Jaya is making a difference and breaking stereotypes in clothing. I’m going to have a baby girl and I know I will want her to wear some things like her brothers. There being a line that can be for girls is awesome. I will be buying from this store and line.

  20. May 5, 2017    

    Gerder Stereotypes appear in everything, even in children toys commercial. My little nephew liked to play with baby dolls and acting like he is a father with a baby. Everyone told his parents to stop letting him playing with dolls and get him toys for “boys”.
    Irregardless, thats a good move for Jaya, I hope she is successful ♥
    ♥ xoxo My Life as Foteini/ Foteini Karagianni ♥

  21. May 5, 2017    

    This is such a great idea! Women can love science and love fashion too. The science novelty prints are so cute. 🔬🔭✏️

    Gennifer Rose | http://www.GenniferRose.com

  22. Kelly Kelly
    May 5, 2017    

    Very inspiring story. She is so brave and I always love when people strive to challenge the conventions of the world we live in.

  23. May 5, 2017    

    I love her story.. So inspiring.. great job for a well-written article!

  24. Zel Zel
    May 5, 2017    

    I definitely agreeing to this- “If you work hard and don’t give up on your dreams, the sky’s the limit in what you can achieve!”
    It’s very inspiring! Thanks for sharing. Good read!

  25. May 5, 2017    

    Great post. We definitely need more brands that promote gender neutrality in this way.

  26. May 5, 2017    

    That’s a really inspiring story. Congrats on your achievement. It’s true that with dedication and hard work one can unturn the biggest of stones. Gender doesn’t matter in today’s world.

  27. Ewa Ewa
    May 5, 2017    

    What interesting and inspirational story

  28. May 5, 2017    

    Women like her are the reason we have to keep fighting for gender equality. They deserve a brighter future and a larger platform that gives them the respect and recognition they deserve.

  29. Elizabeth O. Elizabeth O.
    May 5, 2017    

    I hope that she continues to be an inspiration to young women the world over. We need more women like her to influence our daughters and make them see that there’s more to life and that they should never give up on their dreams.

  30. May 5, 2017    

    That’s so cool. I’ve always hated wearing pink dresses as a child. But my mother would always put me in them, and there wasn’t any option to have gender neutral clothing, (unless you shop the boys section, but then you’re stuck with blue), so this is awesome.

  31. May 5, 2017    

    Definately a tough space to be in, but best of luck with the clothes and Ill be on the lookout for that brand when I shop for my little ones!

  32. May 5, 2017    

    I hope more people will support brands like this who have a bigger purpose and will contribute to the greater good. There is a clothing shop not too far from me where everything is made in the same building that they sell the clothes. Yes, everything is more expensive, but we know it’s good quality and the workers are being paid fairly! It’s wonderful to support such an ethical company. The world would be better place if we all did.

  33. May 5, 2017    

    Ohh this looks great, love finding out about new brands, especially one where both parent and child can wear the collection.

  34. May 5, 2017    

    Keep your eyes open and let your imagination run free. That is great advice that can be transferred to any field. Thanks for sharing such a cool concept!

  35. May 5, 2017    

    This is so cool! Kepp up the great work.

  36. May 5, 2017    

    Svaha clothing brand has a very impressive ethical and modern approach to gender bias. Its so refreshing to be able to purchase a clothing brand that defies the gender divide. Well done!

  37. May 5, 2017    

    This is an interesting concept and an original one! Some fashion designers try to break those gender sterotypes but usually do it in the wrong way. I suppose the way to success could be tough, but you should insist because it is a good idea!

  38. Helen Helen
    May 6, 2017    

    Creating clothes that challenge gender stereotypes is a great idea! Svaha sounds such an inspirational brand and I love that they are producing their clothes ethically too.

  39. Elena Elena
    May 6, 2017    

    Every job requires determination if you want to succeed and not be just another average person. I am glad it worked for you!!

  40. May 6, 2017    

    Negative gender stereotypes can be a challenge for women and young girls. It’s interesting how some of those stereotypes are presented in fashion. For instance, it frustrates me that when my daughter wants a superhero shirt, there little to none found in the girl’s section. I hope there will be more positive changes in the fashion industry.

  41. Catvills Catvills
    May 6, 2017    

    She is an inspiration. Such a strong willed woman, leaving behind her family, her country, to follow her dream. I love how she pushes her beliefs in gender equality through her clothing apparel business.

  42. May 6, 2017    

    I am pleased to see that they are challenging gender stereotyping I must look up this brand as I haven’t heard of them before.

  43. May 6, 2017    

    What a great idea! Clothing to beat gender stereotypes! love it!

  44. May 6, 2017    

    Oh tell me about it! I was trying to buy some piece of clothing for my friends son lately and I noticed how horrible the selection is. Girls hava huge selection of nice and pretty clothes while boys have a narrow selection of clothes that are usually denim and comic themed. There definitely needs to be more unisex clothing for kids – boy shirts with my little pony and girl shirts with cars, because why not?!

  45. May 7, 2017    

    I couldn’t agree more with the line that there are still so many completely untapped markets out there – whether in retail or just about any industry. You’d think that by now every musical note has been played but we still get to hear many new inventive songs.

    I also want to say that we’re never too old to pursue our dreams. 🙂

  46. Swadhin Agrawal Swadhin Agrawal
    May 7, 2017    

    Awesome post! You gave me an idea to a new dressing sense.

  47. May 7, 2017    

    As someone who doesn’t dress ultra feminine, I like to see the restrictions of gender bias pushed. I love the work that globepreneur are doing because I feel like there’s not enough attention going into address the different demographics and gender preferences when it comes to fashion.

  48. Obi Obi
    May 8, 2017    

    you got to meet Bill Nye…how cool. Kids should be able to wear what they like within reason.

  49. May 16, 2017    

    I have never heard of this fashion brand before, this is actually pretty cool! One unusual article 🙂

  50. June 10, 2017    

    To anyone who has a dream and the zeal to push it forward, I say good on you. Creativity works hand in hand. This is a good venture.

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