Profiles in Regeneration: Namisha, 19, Philippines

I believe any awareness brought to the topic of worker exploitation, and the promotion of transparency within the supply chain will be a step forward in the right direction towards the ultimate success.

In April 2013, the Dhaka garment factory collapse shook many people into consciousness about the horrors of the fashion and garment industries. But in the aftermath of this industrial catastrophe, little has been done to change the systematic issues that caused it in the first place.

Of the many large brands that outsourced their operations to the Bangladeshi factory, none took responsibility for the tragic and preventable deaths of over 1,000 workers — mainly of whom were women and children. Instead, they pushed the blame on the greed of the factory’s owner. Nevertheless, the people are well aware of what truly drove this building into disrepair: big brands demanding low costs. Seven years later, it’s about time these brands were finally held accountable.

Namisha Uttamchandani wants to do just that.

Her idea is “the ‘Smile’ system,” which will allow “garment factory workers to select how their experience was working that day based on an emoticon and have the option to briefly write about their concerns. This information is then directly transmitted to a centralized database accessible by all parties involved.”

The ‘Smile’ System will give power to the workers while also giving consumers more information on the corporations they chose to support. Companies will no longer be able to hide behind the fallacy of “not knowing” and instead be forced to outsource to factories that treat workers with dignity, respect, and safety.

Regenerative Futures: How are you feeling right now?

Namisha Uttamchandani: Like any other individual during these unconventional times, I am filled with uncertainty for the future but remain positive and optimistic for a brighter new year. This is a slow time for everyone with the majority working from home, myself included, so I have been utilizing this time to reflect on my life, develop my idea further, and to spend a few extra hours on myself and in the presence of my loved ones.

RF: What’s a secret your search history can tell us about you?

NU: That I am a vessel filled with creativity and fuelled by curiosity. If you were to browse through my search history, you would find virtually no pattern — “chicken mushroom soup recipe,” “unique gift ideas for brother,” “how to use an air fryer,” “best bath and body works candles” — to name a few. However, what you might realize is that every search allows me to exercise my inner creativity. That inner child we all have that screams within and wants to come out. Recently, I have been transporting back to my Crayola crayon days by experimenting with graphic design, dedicating an hour each day to discovering the endless possibilities of the art form and learning ways to monetarize this hobby by studying opportunities and gaps in the market.

RF: What are you reading/learning about at the moment?

NU: I am currently educating myself on COVID-19 by staying informed on the latest news including ways to protect myself and keep those around me safe. Also, I am adjusting to the new “normal” by using my extra time at home to acquire new digital skills including Procreate and digital calligraphy, and expand my knowledge in Microsoft Excel — because I believe technology paves the way for the future.

RF: Who is your favorite human, and why?

NU: My favorite person is, undeniably, my one and only brother Charan. Our bond goes beyond the typical brother-sister relationship — completely juxtaposes it, in fact. We quarrel and fight like cats and dogs on the daily, we disagree on most things, we have yet to find any common ground but despite all I know he has my back, looking out for me from the sidelines. I appreciate the way he challenges me every day so that I always remain two steps ahead. He believes that I am capable of more than I ever thought possible. For this quality, not only is he my favorite human, but also the one I admire the most in my life.

RF: Which key moment inspired you to start your project?

NU: Fashion has always been at the forefront of my life. For as long as I can remember, fashion has been the one passion my Dad and I share. While studying Fashion Buying and Merchandising at the London College of Fashion, I gained a new-found appreciation for fast fashion, as it tends to the masses and allows one to express themselves through their clothing without the costly price tag. However, when I learned about the unethical processes that produce these goods, I was inspired to do something about it, because I believe a brand is only as good as the individuals behind it.

RF: In two years' time, what would success with your project look like?

NU: Success can be viewed through many lenses. As a long-term goal, success with this project will be felt the day a Bangladeshi garment worker can return home safely at a decent hour, with a fair wage in hand. For now, though, I believe any awareness brought to the topic of worker exploitation, and the promotion of transparency within the supply chain will be a step forward in the right direction towards the ultimate success.

Sam Cannon

RF: If you could focus a large percentage of government funding to one industry or project for the next five to ten years, which you choose and why?

NU: “A period should end a sentence, not a girl’s education,” fronts the Pad Project, a initiative in collaboration with the NGO Action India that raises funds for Pad Machines valued at $12,000 each. In the Netflix documentary “Period,” Indian woman speak of the “stigma, shame and lack of access to sanitary protection” they face each month. Many stop attending school or work because of the difficulty and inconvenience they endure without proper protection. I believe, with adequate funding, this project is sustainable and can lead to a necessary paradigm switch.

RF: What are the best and the worst things about the education system in your country?

NU: United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Number 4 is Quality Education, which is unfortunately something only very few have access to in my country, the Philippines. For the lucky few, the rich heritage and culture of the country shines through the education system, taught by teachers who are passionate about their craft and take on an optimistic, forward-thinking approach each day to keep students engaged in their studies. On the other hand, having been born and brought up in the Philippines, I have witnessed children as young as the age of 4 involved in child labor, helping their families with menial tasks during the hours they should have been studying in school. Whilst some are privileged to be born into families that can afford an education, the harsh reality is that most can only dream. In turn, this widens the poverty gap in this already impoverished country where only the privileged benefit.

RF: Do you have a message for anyone your age living in the year 2060?

NU: As the Gen Z I am, I was scrolling through Instagram this morning while sipping on my morning cup of overpriced coffee and came across this post that stood out to me. “There are 168 hours per week — 40 at work — 7 at the gym — 56 sleeping, there are 65 hours left.” You have enough time, what are you going to make of it? You best believe I put my drink down at the speed of light and got my day started!

RF: What inspires or frightens you most about the future?

NU: What frightens me most about the future is if things go on the way they are today. The world is currently facing a plethora of social, political, economic, technological, and environmental issues which include climate change, overconsumption, overpopulation, food insecurity, global health issues, gender inequality, lack of education, poverty, and many more. If the world were to carry on like it is now, it is only a matter of time until it deteriorates in front of our eyes. The larger problem that needs to be addressed is that we are aware of the issues yet choose to neglect them. If human consciousness fails to realize that we must act on these issues now, it’s only a matter of time until we reach our tipping point and there is no way back.

To learn more about Regenerative List Finalist, Namisha Uttamchandani, click here.



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Regenerative Futures

Regenerative Futures is a Gen Z-designed model for a world built upon the principles of equity, fluidity, and sustainability. An Irregular Labs initiative.