Monsiha Raja proves the impact that love and care can make on the lives of others with her brand, LOVE IS MIGHTY. The India-native operates the brand out of NYC, but the designs, traditions, and handicrafts behind her products span countries. Monisha, with her team of talented artisans, create a collection of eco-friendly accessories, many handcrafted using recycled materials. The sustainable nature of her brand is an aspect that came naturally for the creator. She recognizes the importance of eco-friendly products, but her ethical production is primarily driven by her thoughtful nature and desire to showcase beautiful handcrafted goods.
Shop her products, and learn more about her story by reading her interview below.
What drove you to start your business?
I grew up in India and was surrounded by beautiful, intricately hand-worked products. All masterfully created from techniques which spanned the centuries; crafts which previous to industrialization supported nomadic living in rural areas. After I moved to the States to study fashion at Parsons School, I became witness to the rapid replacement of these handcrafted products by homogenized versions and plastic lookalikes. The seed was planted to combine my Fashion Design career with the fair-trade engagement of artisans.
The possibilities of bringing ancient Indian mastery to a relevant global market are endless, and I am excited to see how my brand grows and achieves this in partnership with the artisans. Also, after having worked for over 25 years in a very exploitative industry, I wanted to create a business I believed in; one which dignified people, planet and animals.
Who are your employees or your artisans?
At the moment I work with tribal artisans some of whom are semi-nomadic. I work with collectives in North and East India and I am constantly exploring the landscape to expand these collaborations. My collections feature vintage and new embroideries and weavings. I am especially excited about recycling plastic, and a big part of my collection features recycled biscuit wrappers and grocery bags, woven on handlooms. I collaborated with weavers in Guatemala to create new recycled materials and would love to continue that work.
I have deep respect for the artisans. I don’t just employ them, rather we work in collaboration. I welcome their input and creativity and the end product is so much more beautiful, as a result.
How did you find your artisans?
In 2010, I backpacked to remote regions in India for a couple of months. The gift of that adventure was discovering communities of tribal and indigenous artisans and their incredible work.
What made you decide to start producing ethically?
I created LOVE IS MIGHTY in 2010 with the intention for it to be a company I’d leap out of bed to go work at, something I believed in with every fibre of my being. I was not conscious that I was creating an ethical and sustainable brand as there was little or no talk of it back then. In my personal life I would not harm a fly so why would I exploit animals and people in my profession? It was clear to me that the world did not need yet another company that views humans and animals as resources. I try to be as thoughtful as I can throughout the design and manufacturing processes, so I’d say I’ve always had a focus on sustainability and ethics ever since I was in control of making those decisions with my own company.
What impact has your business had on your community?
Back in 2010, Stella McCartney was the only luxury brand I knew and respected that was animal-free and big on corporate social responsibility. Through her effort and the collective consciousness working toward an ethical fashion industry, the tide has shifted on a macro level. I’m pleasantly shocked that sustainability is going mainstream now. Big brands are marketing their products as sustainable and using alternative materials to leather and fur.
This industry trend is mainly driven by younger consumers for whom animal welfare is a key topic. Luxury stalwarts like Jean Paul Gaultier, Gucci, Versace, Margiela, Tom Ford, Michael Kors have pledged to go fur-free and a host of others are following. On a micro level, my company has been engaging and empowering women weavers and artisans since 2010. We started with six weavers and we are now close to thirty. The number of looms and artisans are increasing, and I’m looking forward to growing this number consistently. There is far more awareness and talk of inclusivity in the fashion industry today. LOVE IS MIGHTY feels more relevant than ever. Together, we can create a just and sustainable world.
What was the most difficult part of starting and running your business?
There have been many, but the most difficult part has been having a singular vision and bringing that to fruition on my own; not having the adequate funding or team. This is a whole new business model and navigating this unfamiliar territory can be daunting and challenging at every twist and turn, but the thought of creating a successful ethical business that paves the path for others to follow is exciting. I am ready to take it to the next level, invite partners and build a team.
What has been the most rewarding outcome of your business?
Bringing an idea, a dream I had years ago, to fruition has been so rewarding. Meeting and working with the wonderful artisans, and knowing that no animals are exploited in creating beautiful and functional products, is so gratifying. I am very grateful for this path I am on.
What is your companies mission?
LOVE IS MIGHTY works with tribal and indigenous artisans to create luxury footwear and accessories. The entire collection is cruelty-free, utilizing recycled plastic and tribal vintage embroideries, showcasing centuries of exquisite craft techniques. All artisans are paid fairly and treated with dignity.