Before he started Brown Boy and became devoted to Fair Trade, founder Prateek Kayan was in a rut. He was living in New York, had a respectable job at a big bank, but his heart just wasn’t in it. He found himself falling asleep at work—once, in fact, in the middle of a board meeting. That’s when he knew that he had to make a change; he wanted to do something that fired his imagination, that he could really get excited about.
Brown Boy turned out to be exactly the thing Kayan was searching for.
He’d always had a passion for contemporary, High Street fashion, the kind of bold designs that make people sneak photos in public. India, Kayan’s native country, didn’t have specialty, boutique brands that catered to these kinds of designs and sensibilities, but he was sure there was a market for it. This, he decided, is what he was meant to do.
He moved home to India, and devoted himself to building a new business from the ground up.
Rather than spend time forming a business plan or enrolling in a fashion design program, Kayan dove into Brown Boy head first. He researched things when necessary, and started designing, which came to him naturally. After 18 months of working around the clock—weekends included—to build design campaigns, learn manufacturing processes, build a dream team of craftspeople, manage logistics, and troubleshoot the never-ending cascade of obstacles that come with being an entrepreneur, that distant, far-off dream Kayan had in New York was a dream no longer.
Finally, Brown Boy was a reality.
One of the most important things to Kayan when he was forming the company was to tread a path of social entrepreneurship; to be as intentional as possible in his work and to labor to effect positive change. As a result, all the apparel made by Brown Boy is 100% Fair Trade.
Exploitation of workers and rampant waste plagues the clothing industry, so the team at Brown Boy proudly practices the strictest of ethical standards in conducting business. Additionally, Brown Boy is committed to using only the highest-quality organic cotton available, and all the garments they produce are vegan.
In many ways, Brown Boy is breaking new ground in India. E-commerce is a still a relatively new concept for many consumers in this market, so Kayan has had to adapt and think of new ways to overcome this hurdle.
One of his solutions has been to shed the somewhat antiquated idea of manufacturing to a perceived or predicted demand. Instead, Brown Boy’s clothes don’t get made until someone clicks a button and submits the order online. The company can avoid unnecessary waste and overstock with this method, and is also able to keep costs down while practicing lean manufacturing.
Since they aren’t mass-producing, Brown Boy apparel has a certain exclusivity, or uniqueness, that customers enjoy. It’s this smart, shrewd approach to production that allows Shop Brown Boy to offer high-quality clothing with slick designs at very competitive prices–– particularly for a global brand.
Leaving an industry like banking to design and manufacture clothing may seem like a huge, crazy risk, but for Kayan, it was only natural—after all, aren’t we all just trying to do something meaningful, something that makes us happy?
In Kayan’s case, his company not only promotes and practices Fair Trade standards and ethical business practices, but it’s also working to push Indian consumers to be more e-commerce focused, and more conscious of small, independent brands.
Kayan dreamt big; the end result, we think, will be infinitely bigger. Check out his shop today to see why.