“Good Intentions, Good Stories, Good Vibes - Words Collection.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Hindi Jain, Founder & CCO of the “Words Collection”.
1.) Yitzi: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your "backstory"? (If you share an inspirational or aspirational backstory, we will be able to publish this interview in Thrive Global as well as Huffpost)
I grew up in mother’s shophouse boutique, the “Shop of India” on the east coast and traveling trade-shows with my father who was a serial entrepreneur. I started doing henna tattoos outside the shop when I was only 10 years old as my version of a lemonade stand. Through that experience, i've met a lot of people over the years - I’ve done over 20,000 tattoos - and noticed that many of these people like to get meaningful words in different languages on their wrists, ankles, and back of neck (placement that was personal to remind them of messages that matter). I took inspiration from the experience of giving these tattoos and channeled it into a conversational clothing line. I've placed inspiring words on clothing where you would normally see tattoos. The idea is that it's personal and meant to spark conversation in the same way a tattoo would.
When I would sit and talk with these people, they often wanted these words tattooed as a reminder to themselves to be or do something, like “love” or “happiness” in different world languages. After having words of positivity drawn in henna where they could easily see, they would often come back to tell me about how those words changed their day.
Starting my own label was something i’d always dreamed of doing, but the fear of the unknown held me back. What if I left my job and failed on my own? The prestige of having a label to associate myself with gave me confidence. Growing up with parents who strayed from the typical career paths of their generation, I never felt like I needed to follow a stereotypical career path. It was quite the opposite; seeing the inside life of two entrepreneurial parents taught me just how hard it is to run your own business – work never stops. As a result, I was drawn to corporate careers that were more structured and promised a steady income. Over time, through my experiences working for private labels and corporate fashion powerhouses, I learned that the more you grow within those institutions, the more it becomes like you’re running your own business within their business. For anyone deciding whether or not to take the plunge into starting your own business, I would say that if you have a vision and it feels right, you only have one life to live. If it was a mistake and you try and fail, you’ll come back stronger from everything you learned along the way. The greatest thing is, if it’s a success, dreams came true.
2.) Yitzi: Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company?
I’ve realized the dangers of being female. Trying to raise money for a start-up is difficult enough, but add being ethical and female into the mix and it becomes that much harder. The most insane things have happened in my life since leaving the corporate world. Men would offer to try to help me in the most absurd ways, including but not limited to offering to buy me a factory! Many would pretend to show interest or be of help as a means of opening up conversations with the hope that it would lead to more. Being ambitious doesn’t mean i’m willing to sacrifice my integrity to get ahead. In the end, I decided to start small and build up from there. I did a kickstarter campaign and raised $25K in pre-sales. Truth be told, i’d never do it again, but I learned volumes about the unique preferences of my target market and psychological behavior my own community in the process.
3.) Yitzi: So what does your company do?
It creates a wearable experience with everyday clothing. It’s a great way of sparking conversation, learning something personal about someone you don't already know, and a positive reminder to self. Each item features positive words in different languages placed where one might normally see a tattoo; it comes with a hangtag that gives you a call to action. The inspiration came from my experiences creating over 20,000 henna tattoos from a business I started at 10 years old.
4.) Yitzi: How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Each item that I sell creates a positive chain of events. The factory gets work, the user feels good when they wear the clothes (they’re animal cruelty-free “Peta Approved” vegan), the strangers they meet along the way get to spark a positive conversation, and finally a percentage of profits are donated to organizations that promote equality for humanity.
5.) Yitzi: What are your "5 things I wish someone told me before I launched my Start-Up" and why.
Well, I was a little naive when I started this venture; thinking I could do it all on my own and without funding or a solid action plan. Reality didn’t take long to set in. So with that in mind, my advice is this:
Find a co-founder/business partner. It’s possible to do it all on your own, but you’ll waste a lot of time. Building a team will enable you to scale faster. You might have the greatest product ever invented, but it won’t matter if no one ever hears about it.
Make friends with fellow entrepreneurs and build your support system. Surround yourself with people who want to see you succeed. Chances are most of your friends work 9-5, and once you get off that cycle, it’s socially isolating.
Keep track of the things you do everyday so you’re always able to measure your own progress. It’s natural to feel like you’re not progressing at the rate you initially projected. Keeping track is a good way to check-in with yourself.
Don’t believe what you see on instagram. People will make assumptions about the success they assess you’ve achieved according to the photos you post on online. What they don’t see is that behind each benchmark for achievement posted is a lot of hussle and hard work that probably didn’t happen in an “instant”.
Advice overload is really real. You will likely receive loads of contradicting advice from many well intentioned people. Pick and choose the advice you want to digest and use your instincts.
While other children were setting up lemonade stands to earn a few dollars, Hindi Jain at 10 years old was applying henna tattoos from a sidewalk stand in front of her parents’ retail shop in downtown New Hope, earning enough money to travel internationally.
Inspired by those early days of designing tattoos for thousands of residents and visitors to the iconic Bucks County community, Jain, 29, has launched a career as a fashion designer. Her line of leisure wear, called the Words Collection, features messages of positivity and meaningful words woven into the fabric of each garment.
Jain’s parents are natives of India. Her mother, Neelam, was an art professor and her father, Arvind, was operating 17 clothing stores across the U.S. when the couple married. In 1971, they moved to New Hope and opened the Shop of India. Growing up, Jain and her brother and sister lived with their parents above the family’s corner store on South Main Street.
Jain’s mother inspired her to pursue a passion for art.
“That was almost like a family bonding thing. We would hang out and paint together, and my mom would teach me how do henna tattoos,” Jain said.
After that first year of tattooing, Jain set up her henna tattoo stand on the sidewalk in front of the Shop of India every weekend. She estimates that she served more than 20,000 people on the weekends and summers up until she graduated from New Hope-Solebury High School in 2005.
“When I first started it nobody knew what it was,” she said of henna tattoos. “After Madonna did it, people became more intrigued.”
Made of a paste from the henna plant, it can be applied to the skin and leaves an orange or maroon stain that fades away in one to two weeks. Traditionally, henna is applied in intricate designs to the hands and feet for celebrations like marriage ceremonies.
While applying the henna tattoos as a teenager, people shared intimate stories of love and loss. Most customers asked for positive words to be written on their wrists, ankles and the back of their necks. Those words were powerful to those who needed them the most, said Jain, recalling one teen who asked her to write “Love” in cursive over cuts he had made to his wrist. Those encounters sparked the inspiration for what would later become her first clothing collection.
While in high school, Jain was awarded a scholarship to enroll in courses at Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia. Later, she went on to earn a degree in international business and marketing from Drexel University. In her early 20s, Jain landed merchandising positions with Ralph Lauren and Ann Taylor companies in New York and BCBGMaxAzria in California.
“Through those experiences I really built my foundation, but I realized I wanted to do something more,” she said. “I made big strides during my time (at BCBGMaxAzria) but I kind of felt like I reached my peak at that career and I thought this was the time to challenge myself. I quit my job without an action plan. I just knew that it needed to happen now.”
In December 2014, Jain left the corporate world and packed her bags for India. By the time she launched a Kickstarter campaign in November 2015, she had designed her first collection, established Hindi Jain LLC and developed a plan for its manufacturing with factory owners in Jaipur and New Delhi.
“It was definitely an adventure,” she said. “I learned a lot along the way.”
The Words Collection is a comfortable leisure and yoga wear clothing line for men and women. Inspiring words are placed on high-quality clothes in places where you would normally see tattoos. The clothing is sold online and at Dig Yoga and Bucks County Dry Goods in Lambertville. A percentage of the profits are donated to organizations that promote equality such as Trevor Project, Girl2B and Farm Sanctuary.
“This is really a culmination of my background and skills and desire to do something positive in life," Jain said.
Hindi Jain, who grew up above her mother’s New Hope boutique, last month began selling her new athleisure clothing there.
Some of the proceeds already benefit Girl2B, an organization that teaches financial and social independence to girls living in poverty. All girls in the program receive shirts with “Education is Power” written on the sleeves.
Jain also plans to make donations to the Trevor Project. She said she’s had friends who volunteered with the nonprofit that aims to prevent suicide in the LGBT community; they talked about how much it changed their lives.
Jain’s new line, called “The Words Collection,” features casual weekend wear, yoga essentials, henley tops, long-sleeve tops and tank tops. It promotes humanitarian ideals with words in different languages printed on the clothing, such as “sukha,” which means happiness and positivity in Sanskrit, and “peripéteia,” the Greek word for adventure. Each word is rendered in its language’s alphabet.
The clothing comes with a call to action. People are advised to think of two things that make them happy when wearing the Sanskrit word or make an interesting plan while wearing the Greek word.
“It’s an experience with the garment,” Jain said, adding later, “These clothes are statement pieces. They’re there to inspire positive messaging. Sometimes seeing it really does get the juices flowing in your mind.”
Items retail between $38-$68. They’re available online at www.hindijain.com, as well as at Jain’s mother’s store, the Shop of India; Dig Yoga and Bucks County Dry Goods.
Jain grew up around entrepreneurship and fashion. She recalled going to trade shows with her mother and watching her father work in wholesale, specializing in watches and ties.
After earning a degree in international business and marketing from Drexel University, Jain started her career at clothing labels like Ralph Lauren, BCBG Max Azria and Ann Taylor, among others.
She decided to branch out with her own designs so she could create a brand that echoed her ethos of ethical fashion. Jain said her upbringing in New Hope, a borough noted for its inclusive atmosphere, especially for LGBT people, inspired her to create a line that promotes equality.
The Words Collection started in November with a Kickstarter online fundraising campaign. It raised about $23,000, doubling her $10,000 goal.
In January, Jain traveled to India for four months to oversee the clothing production. She spent time with the “makers” to ensure they had safe working conditions and felt satisfied with the factory.
Hindi Jain sits outside Shop of India in New Hope.
The little girl who used to sell henna tattoos outside her parents’ shop in New Hope 20 years ago is all grown up, and so is her business.
These days, Hindi Jain is applying the tattoo concept to a line of clothing, and with her garments, she hopes to change the world.
“I’ve done henna tattoos for more than 20,000 people over the years,” Jain said recently at her mother’s Shop of India on South Main Street. “Each summer, I do around 1,000. And it’s interesting, because you have conversations with people while you’re doing it, and sometimes it becomes like confession. They want to tell me about their lives.”
Often, she said, customers extend their hands and say, “Give me something meaningful.”
Sometimes, the stories she hears are heartbreaking, and she has seen many wrists that bear the scars of those who have lost hope.
“I’ve met quite a few people who have slit their wrists,” Jain said. “It’s really sad, but they want to share. They want to be consoled. And often they want the word ‘love,’ in cursive, tattooed on their wrists.
“It made me think that it would be good to put words on the clothes. It could be like an interchangeable tattoo. If you’re feeling sad, for instance, you could wear a word that picks you up and makes you feel happy or appreciative of something.”
Thus was born the Words Collection. From 4 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, Jain will launch her line of “meaningful clothes that promote equality for humanity” at Shop of India, 76 S. Main St. – which happens to be the oldest boutique in town, established in 1971.
The garments are for casual wear and yoga, and each features a word, symbol, quote or definition, all designed to inspire positive thoughts.
At the event, you can meet Hindi Jain, mingle with local yoga instructors and learn techniques to meditate anytime, anywhere.
Words Collection items will be for sale, with a free make-up/toiletries bag with every purchase. Also, $50 worth custom henna tattoo design will be raffled.
It seems everything in Jain’s life has lead her to this confluence of tattoo art and fashion.
“I worked for some of the top fashion houses in the world for years,” she said, “and I feel like I gained a lot from those experiences. I want to take that and do something that’s meaningful to me and to other people.”
While at New Hope-Solebury High School, Jain took fashion-design courses via scholarship at Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia. Next, she studied international business and marketing at Drexel University. While there, she worked for a private label of Ann Taylor as a design assistant.
After college, Jain spent three years with Ralph Lauren in Manhattan. After that “tremendous learning curve,” she moved to BCBG MaxAzria.
“After a year and half there, I reached a point in my life where I’m looking for more than money,” she said. “I want career fulfillment. With my business education, experience in the clothing industry, and network, I had all the foundations to create my own line.”
This year, after a successful Kickstarter funding campaign, Jain spent four months in India overseeing the entire production process, finding the highest quality materials and ensuring that the garments were made in factories where workers are treated ethically.
“I literally sat in the factory and interviewed everybody,” she said. “A lot of corporations are manufacturing their clothes in China because it’s cheaper there, so it’s become a problem for India. But India always has had this heritage of fine craftsmanship. I thought that by showcasing that heritage, it could inspire bigger brands to source more inclusively.”
As eager as Jain is to succeed, she is equally as keen to share her success. A portion of all her profits will go to an organization in India that supports young women from slums by providing education, housing and job placement, called Girl to Be.
“I’ve given my clothes to all the girls in the school, and they all say ‘Education is Power,’ as a reminder to them.”
Locally, she plans to work with the Trevor Foundation, a national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide-prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people ages 13 to 24.
“Growing up in New Hope, I’ve been inspired by the idea of equality for humanity,” Jain said. “We’re so accepting here, of everything, and it’s not necessarily like that everywhere you go. I want my clothing to be statement pieces. By wearing the clothes, it’s like saying, ‘I stand for equality for humanity.’ ”
I grew up in mother’s shophouse boutique, the “Shop of India” on the east coast and at trade-shows where my father sold wholesale menswear – entrepreneurship & fashion were ingrained in me for as long as I can remember. Prior to creating the words collection, I worked at BCBG MaxAzria, where I launched the global handbags & accessories merchandising division. I was encouraged to join BCBG MaxAzria after spending 3 years in the Global Men’s merchandising division for Ralph Lauren. I’ve completed several design courses via a scholarship at Moore College of Art and Design and graduated with a degree in international business & marketing from Drexel University.
(2) How do you deal with setbacks?
Setbacks are always disappointing but I try to put it in perspective. I try to focus on the positives that come out of every setback and use that knowledge to grow & learn from.
(3) How did you get started?
I found myself in a position where I was forced to question my Jain values. BCBG MaxAzria used to be one of my favorite companies because I knew I could count on them to deliver high fashion that was animal friendly; they were PETA approved. At the end of my career there, they started to introduce fur into the collection. My job as the head of global merchandising for the handbags and accessories division was to ensure that the regional buyers of the world bought the entire line. It was disgusting and I was upset that I was expected to handle these new fur products. I brought the issue up to the owner of the company and she responded that it had been many years since their promise to PETA and it was no longer valid. I was in a moral conundrum, my job duties no longer aligned with my Jain values. Everything happens for a reason though, this lead me on a different path. I decided to create my own line of animal friendly clothes, but more than that, I wanted to change current perceptions for luxury brands about “made in India”. I want to highlight India’s heritage in craftsmanship to the world and encourage luxury designers to source production more inclusively.
(4) Who is your ideal target audience?
People who appreciate comfy clothes, like yoga, and want to travel.
(5) Who is your role model?
My mom. I really admire how she balances being a hard working business woman and applies Jain principles to everyday living – like waking up every morning and practicing yoga followed my meditation – or choosing not to carry leather products in her shop (even though that could mean greater profits).
(6) What advice do you have for those considering entrepreneurship?
Well, I think we all think about it, but all those worst case “what if” questions arise like “What if I leave my steady paying job and fail in entrepreneurship – what will people think?”. There’s no right answer when it comes to taking the plunge into starting your own business. If you have a vision and it feels right, you only have one life to live. If it was a mistake and you try and fail, you’ll come back stronger from everything you learned along the way. If it was a success, dreams came true.
(7) Your website has five core values – humanity, culture, world, fashion, and equality. How do you try to incorporate Jainism values on a daily basis while also being strong to the five core values of your business?
Ahimsa (Non-Violence): All of my products are animal friendly.
Satya (To Speak the harmless truth only): This collection promotes equality for humanity.
Anekantvad (Multiplicity of Views): The clothes have positive statements written on them, so while wearing them, you are absorbing these positive thoughts and sharing them with others who take notice.
Hindi Jain creates meaningful yoga wear & casual clothing inspired by henna tattoos. The “words collection” takes its name from the nature of its designs featuring meaningful words, quotes, and definitions placed where tattoos would be; creating an enchanting visual impact with a much deeper, energizing meaning. The collection is made with high quality fabrics that are soft and luxurious to the touch and fittingly designed for widespread wear-ability. The idea is that you are sharing a secret; it’s personal like a tattoo. It’s for you and to reinforce words that inspire your life. The collection aims to spark conversation & connect people in the same way as tattoos typically do.
Hindi Jain’s new yoga/weekend leisure line called the “Words Collection” is a conversation starter. This empowered female designer strives to create meaningful clothing that promotes equality for humanity. Jain’s mission is commendable, bringing new meaning to the words fashion statement.
Hindi Jain’s Words Collection is a series of casual weekend wear and yoga pantsfeaturing inspirational words, definitions, and quotes that reinforce happiness and positivity. You can choose your silhouette, quote, and the placement of the words on your clothes, such as the inside of your wrist, small of your back, or sport it on your ankle. The words are delicately placed where a tattoo would be. It’s going to make for an awesome holiday gift, and it’s so personal.
All of Hindi’s trims are high quality and ethically sourced from around the world. The young designer started creating henna tattoos when she was only 10 years old, and built her foundations working for top quality designers like Ralph Lauren and BCBG Max Azria.
Her motto? ‘No Titles. No Borders. World Citizens.’ Jain tells us, “My collection creates a statement for young women around the world that we can do any and everything with the right motivation, skills, and network of amazing supporters. We can make an impact both locally and globally. We are bridging worlds, and increased understanding and equality is the effect.” Hindi’s collection is an agent of change. Meaningful clothes that create equality for humanity– plus the stylish and comfy yoga weekend wear to boot.
When I heard about fashion's new IT girl, Hindi Jain, and her first signature collection, I was inspired. Inspired to shop her line? Well that's part of it, but it was the young designer's powerful message that resonated with me. The strong-minded and talented fashionista strives to create meaningful clothing that promotes equality for humanity. Jain's mission is commendable, bringing new meaning to the words fashion statement.
Hindi Jain's Words Collection is a series of casual weekend wear and yoga pants featuring inspirational words, definitions, and quotes that reinforce happiness and positivity. You can choose your silhouette, quote, and the placement of the words your clothes, such as the inside of your wrist, small of your back, or proudly sport it on your ankle. The words are delicately placed where a tattoo would be. I'm ordering matching yoga pants for my sister and myself as we've always wanted matching tattoos, but in my family, that's a no-no. It's going to make for an awesome holiday gift, and it's so personal. I can't wait to sport them and think of her.
All her trims are high quality sourced from around the world. The young designer started a henna line when she was only 10 years old and has worked for top quality designers like Ralph Lauren and BCBG Max Azria (two of my personal faves). Hindi Jain knows quality materials, and has learned the value in spreading positivity worldwide. For this reason, she's won over our fashionable hearts as Popdust's Designer to Watch!
Her motto? ‘No Titles. No Borders. World Citizens.’ Jain tells us "[Her line] creates a statement for young women around the world that we can do any and everything with the right motivation, skills, and network of amazing supporters. We can make an impact both locally and globally. We are bridging worlds and increased understanding and equality is the effect.”
Hindi's collection is an agent of change. Meaningful clothes that create equality for humanity--plus the stylish and comfy weekend wear to boot.
LeBow alumna Hindi Jain ’10, an International Business and Marketing major, has launched a Kickstarter campaign for her clothing startup called the Words Collection. Her introductory line features yoga and loungewear with meaningful messages “delicately placed where tattoos would be, creating an enchanting visual impact with a much deeper, energizing meaning.”
The Words Collection will be constructed of high quality fabrics in responsible factories that employ highly skilled craftsmen, Jain says. This startup was inspired by her recent journey to India and the craftsmen she met there, who, she emphasizes, are highly skilled. “They share the same rich generational heritage as the more-often talked about craftsmanship often associated with Europe. This globally inclusive awareness project not only brings meaningful clothing to market, but is also helping to rebuild jobs and lives.” She projects that the Words Collection could create up to 500 jobs in India and 30 in the U.S.
“By wearing these clothes, you stand for our campaign: ‘No Titles. No Borders. World Citizens.’ This collection creates a statement for young women that we can do any and everything with the right motivation, skills and network of amazing supporters,” Jain says.
As a Drexel student, Jain co-oped as a design assistant for Depeche Mode, a private label for Ann Taylor, Tablots and Chicos. “I really built my foundation in corporate design there,” she says. She also completed a marketing co-op at toy company K’nex, as well as an ad sales co-op at Reader’s Digest magazine.
“Drexel’s co-op program was a game changer for my career. It really helped me to understand what career path was best suited for me, and gave me the tools to hit the ground running in my first job out of college.” Since graduation, Jain has worked in global merchandising for fashion corporations Ralph Lauren and BCBG MaxAzria.