Our First Development Trip in India

In July 2019 when HS cofounder Meghan stepped off a plane in Delhi, the commotion of Indira Gandhi International airport felt much different than before. Having previously worked in corporate design jobs, Meghan was no stranger to overseas factory visits. However, this trip marked her premier solo trip on behalf of HarperSage since foregoing corporate life to birth the brand she and cofounder Leah began manifesting two years prior. The unease and boiling temperatures were a small price to pay for the ability to support other female entrepreneurs, to have clear visibility into their supply chain, and to develop an authentic relationship with the people making HarperSage pieces.

 Before the highly anticipated factory visit, Meghan spent her days scouring the colorful bustling Delhi markets to hand-pick fabrics for the collection. Guided only by a premeditated color palette and theme, Meghan doesn’t fully conceptualize each garment until the fabrics are chosen, and rightfully so; the Delhi markets are a feast for the senses, and a concept could truly go in a number of directions depending on fabric. Not to mention the fabric itself can inspire an entirely new piece! 

Finally, after a whirlwind of selecting fabrics, Meghan had the pleasure of visiting the amazing women-run factory that gives life to her creations! This factory is an ideal choice for HarperSage and located in a thriving manufacturing hub (typically dominated by men and rife with gender discrimination). Instead, Meghan is greeted by the calming but powerful presence of Archana, the factory owner, and Arpana, the factory agent — a badass twin-sister duo at the helm of one of the only female-led garment factories in India. Not only does their factory employ women in corporate positions, but it also proudly carries a SEDEX Certification which guarantees supply chain visibility, safe and fair working conditions, and responsible business practices. Check, check, and check. 

But Archana and Arpana aren’t just a calming presence in the face of a chaotic work trip. Their career trajectory as women in India’s manufacturing industry is anomalous, and working with them reaffirmed all the principles upon which HarperSage was founded, namely: empowering women, catering to women who contain multitudes, and supporting transparent supply chain practices. Personally visiting the factory also means building an authentic relationship and acknowledging the people behind the clothes as an extension of HS. It’s one thing to send an email across the globe to a faceless corporation with no oversight, but it’s another to invest in a true collaboration and partnership. 

Aside from the fact that they are certified badass boss ladies, another great reason to befriend Archana and Arpana is FOOD. Almost every day or evening, Meghan was treated to lunch at the factory or taken out to dinner to sample all the best Indian cuisine under the guidance of these two hospitable ladies who know their stuff and managed to turn Meghan into a dosa connoisseur (south Indian savory pancakes). 

Alas, after an exciting and hectic week, Meghan found the opportunity to appreciate India’s calmer attractions and wind down. A gorgeous temple with beautiful intricate details and calm energy was the PERFECT way to look inward, reset, and head back to Brooklyn with all the focus and energy of a true HarperSage duo; scrappy and professional, strong and soft, operating with madness and method. 

Click here to see our chat with the factory owners Archana and Arpana about their duo personalities and fashion sense!

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