If you had asked former technology consultants Madhu Rajendran and Partha Raghunathan two years ago what they’d be doing now, owning a women’s fashion company was not what they’d tell you. But today, after launching in September of 2015, the duo are the proud founders of Bloom & Give, a line of scarves, bags, and other accessories that do more than just look good.
“We had both been in the corporate world for more than 20 years and we wanted to do something more meaningful. We’re in our 40s, at an age where you really start thinking, ‘I want to be proud of what I do,’” Raghunathan said.
After a trip to Rajasthan in their native India with a friend in the textile business, the two had a true eureka moment. Though both had lived in the United States for more than two decades, a strong urge to reconnect with their roots was brewing.
“On one hand, we just felt like, wow, there is so much beauty in the textile techniques, we can really empower artisans and give back here,” Rajendran, who lives in Preston Hollow, said. “And then we saw the girls of India living in such gender disparity.”
Rajendran became convinced that investing in these girls’ lives through education would help the health of the community. Bloom & Give, which partners with local artisans and co-ops owned and operated by women, donates 50 percent of its earnings to two Indian nonprofits that promote girls’ education — Educate Girls and the Vanam Foundation — as well as to small schools and projects in India.
The two wanted to go big with their “give back” attitude.
“We wanted to be audacious,” Rajendran said. “We wanted to be primarily a social enterprise, and that’s how we settled on giving half of our profits to our cause, educating girls in India.”
To date, the company has raised thousands of dollars for their beneficiaries. The cause has added meaning to the two founders, who between them have three daughters, all of whom have been students at Hockaday.
“In India, it’s not so much about bags, or books, or finances stopping girls from going to class after they’re about 10 years old. It’s tradition,” Raghunathan said. “So the nonprofits and projects we work with change the mindset about keeping women in the house through town halls, movie screenings, and empowering the girls in school to keep themselves and their friends going to class.”
With a collection of patterned scarves, canvas and leather bags, and home goods in the pipeline, Rajendran and Raghunathan are modernizing traditional techniques of Indian block printing, weaving, and embroidery by toning down the traditionally bright Indian colors for a new Western generation to wear and feel good about wearing.
The accessories and bags from Bloom & Give sell particularly well during the holiday season, as buyers across the U.S. look to give a gift that does more than just look nice. And while gifting has driven a portion of Bloom & Give’s profits and donations, the company has found community in an unexpected location: Instagram.
Yogis on the social media platform have become big proponents of the Bloom & Give mission. Through Yoga Alliance, an ambassador program with social media-savvy instructors and studio owners, Rajendran and Raghunathan have found that the ethos of yoga connects with their socially-conscious company.
“Finding yoga as a business partner was totally unplanned. But, it created this word of mouth far beyond Dallas,” Rajendran said. “We thought we would primarily be an online, direct model, but by the end of this year, we’ll be in more than 20 boutiques around the country.”