We had the pleasure of interviewing Nurjahan Begum, an experienced sourcing professional who utilizes strong analytical skills to create accurate projections supporting successful purchasing and sales programs. She is creating an ethical clothing brand that empowers consumers and factory workers. Read on to learn more about their personal journey through entrepreneurship.
Introduce yourself and your business
I am Nurjahan Begum, founder of Progoti - a social enterprise clothing brand. We offer a transparent pricing model where customers can choose how much they wish to contribute to support seamstresses. Every single dollar contributed is used to purchase individual life and pension policies for garment workers in Bangladesh. Our mission is to fund a monthly pension benefits for workers making your clothes!
I have been operating in the clothing industry for more than 10 years. During my time working with various brands, I noticed how immensely the supply chain negatively impacted the garment workers at the most foundational level. They had no voice, support, and/or job security. For the longest time I felt their helplessness. However, in 2017 I elevated from that mindset in order to facilitate tangibly lasting change within this industry and ultimately- the world.
Could you tell me a bit more about your social impact?
We work directly with the staff within our partner’s production house. Everyone on the team has a voice and their salary is based on their skill level. In the garment industry, we noticed that factories hire only young employees as they are viewed as expendable. They are able to work at a faster pace and are fired should their productivity rate drop the slightest.
We hope to facilitate change here, we feel that the experienced employees bring a lot to the table and should be promoted rather than fired. In terms of social impact, we want to create a happier, fulfilling, and more secure working environment in the garment industry.
Love this! It’s amazing to see you take the lead in improving the garment industry. What would you say has been the greatest challenge in growing Progoti?
Oh, it is definitely Social Media Marketing. Due to the pandemic, it was tough making connections with customers over social media. I personally have no background in marketing business, so I really had to step out of my comfort zone in order to pursue authentic and creative avenues to produce content that resonated with our target demographic.
Amazing! And what are your goals for the future?
My biggest goal is that, I want big brands like H&M, Guess and Nike to notice us and our business practices. With Progoti I hope to show that if I can do this much, a big brand can do way more than what I'm doing. The best scenario would be to onboard an established brand and educate their team on how they can foster a more ethical way of manufacturing garments.
Thank you for the transparency. I think a lot of brands can learn from Progoti and put more ethical systems in place. For my next question, I was wondering what advice would you give to your younger self in regard to starting your own business?
To be brave! I’ve learned a lot over time through my experiences, but I didn’t feel brave enough to start. Growing up, I came from very humble beginnings. I grew up rich with love. Immediately after my education was complete, I dove into the corporate world. I felt fulfilled at the job I was at due to the financial stability it offered. I used to think that I was somehow making an impact in the world by being a small part of something bigger. I obstructed my creative freedom by believing that introducing novel infrastructure of a new company would hold me at greater financial liability, and to work with a company where all the infrastructure is already built is the more secure move.
I gave a lot of sweat and tears to the corporate world, but eventually I decided to take that leap of faith into entrepreneurship. I chose to be brave! I wish my younger self knew to be more bold and understand that it all works out in the end.
What has been your proudest moment as an entrepreneur?
Being able to support the team of people who make the garments for Progoti. I do my best to help the garment workers, and honestly my proudest moment is every time I am at the facility, and I see them show up to work with a smile on their face.
What do you enjoy the most about being an entrepreneur?
I love that I get to be creative. I design the clothes for the brand, and I feel like as if I could do that all day long. The best is when I see something I envisioned become a reality, and then take it to the market to see customers’ reaction.
Amazing! Thank you so much for sharing this, Nurjahan. Where can others find you and your amazing designs?
This blog is part of #GoGetterMovement spotlight series: Arise N' Go believes that no goal is too small as long as you believe in your potential. Through these blogs, our goal is to display the stories of other individuals in our community and showcase their hard work in order to inspire others. We hope these stories prompt you to embrace your true self, be proud of your individuality, and take the leap to do what you love. To learn more visit our about us page.