Evangelisation’s in fashion

Source: As featured in the Catholic Leader

AJESH Abraham knows the wisdom of the saints will never go out of style.

Mr Abraham co-founded his family business Servi Store, a “fair-trade certified Catholic merchandise brand” focused on minimalistic design with inspirational quotes from Catholic saints or from scripture.

What set Servi Store apart was its potential to evangelise.

“It is a good way to evangelise,” Mr Abraham said.

“I try to make it more inspirational so they (the customers) can still wear it without feeling intimidated about it. 

“So they are happy to have it and they can have a conversation: ‘Oh, why are you wearing this? What does it mean?’ 

“And they can go into a deeper conversation about it.”

Mr Abraham based his designs on topics young people faced.

He picked up a T-shirt from his stall, which read on the front: “Beauty when unadorned is adorned the most” – a quote from 5th Century St Jerome.

“And there are a lot of things going on about body image,” Mr Abraham said.

“It’s good for young people to know that they are beautiful just the way God made them. 

“These types of messages we try to promote.”

His whole business was aligned with Catholic social teaching, including fair trade.

He said his search for fair-trade certified sources started with a “wake-up call” to what was going on in the world, especially the fashion industry.

“I’ve been a designer,” he said, “I just wanted to make some T-shirts with some inspirational quotes from some saints when I looked into sourcing my garments, (and) I kind of read into what happens in the fashion industry in the unethical practices.

“I thought I don’t want to put my hand in those unethical practices.”

So he explored and found a fair-trade certified group.

He even took it one step further by sourcing his garments from a religious order based in India focused on Franciscan spirituality, which runs its factory to support women, especially women from its orphanages.

“It’s sort of giving them (the women) a job when they grow out of school aged,” he said.

“I was very luck to find them; they are fair-trade certified as well.”

Mr Abraham also partnered with another group who made Servi Store’s wristbands, which featured a quote from Padre Pio: “Pray, hope and don’t worry”.

The wristbands were made by women in Kolkata from a very poor background. 

“They sit and they make these things,” Mr Abraham said.

“We were happy to find them as well.”

Sadly, he said it wasn’t easy to find sources like theirs.

“It’s challenging, because you know you find it hard to source these things … ticking all these boxes,” he said.

“You could just make good stuff from anywhere, but to get them from specific ethical places and to know (the sources) personally and get them connected, it’s a bit of a lengthier and harder process.”

Mr Abraham said he had personally been to the places that sourced his garments to visit them and check on everything.

“I want to have that personal connection as well,” he said.

As for his merchandise, he said young people loved it.

He said they loved it initially for the design but also because a lot of them were “aware of the social factors and environmental factors”.

Mr Abraham said it was easy to get that message through, especially when they liked the fit and the feel of the clothing itself.

He has been commissioned to do custom merchandising by a number of dioceses for diocesan and youth group T-shirts, including Lismore diocese and Melbourne archdiocese.

“They were happy to source them through our fair-trade supply chain,” he said.

“(The brand is) pretty much fully Catholic; all the items have some sort of a Catholic quote from a saint or a design inspired by a quote. 

 

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The hidden cost of looking good -Servi Store featured on Melbourne Catholic

Servi Store was featured in the article titled " The hidden cost of looking good - mending an industry by Toby Ward on the December 2017 edition of Melbourne Catholic Magazine.

Below is the section that covers about Servi:

"Melbourne's ethical endeavours also extend to Bulleen's Servi Store, an eco-friendly and Fairtrade certified fashion and apparel brand that fuses inspiring words of Catholic saints with ethically made apparel. Servi Store also operates as a custom merchandising retailer, breaking ranks from many commercially driven competitors to provide ethically made personalised clothing for organisations and various groups. Servi Store's founder, Ajesh Abraham, launched the project in 2015 after two years of intensive research. Ajesh's steadfast faith and his committed resolve to produce ethically made garments have synthesised into Servi Store. It is a small yet burgeoning enterprise that is pursuing an end to slavery and liberating those in Servi Store's supply chain. 'We're a small drop in the ocean, but we are a drop that is important, says Ajesh. 'We believe we live in a modern society where everyone should be treated fairly”.

Servi Store utilises a small number of factories in southern India, one of which is Assisi Garments, an innovative factory established by Franciscan Sisters that now employs a workforce of 300, including underprivileged women and 120 physically challenged people. 'Our faith is very relevant to what we're doing says Ajesh, reflecting on the Catholic values coursing through Servi Store. It's 100 percent influencing our business and the way we function. I feel unable to engage with unethical practices as a Catholic.

As the fashion industry gradually continues to value principled and fair operations, businesses will further develop ethical practices and improve working conditions and supply chains. Fundamentally the clothes we wear serve as a projection of ourselves and our identities. Yet, the clothes upon our back should not break someone else's. If we advocate for fairness and oppose the abhorrence of slavery, shouldn't the fashion we flaunt reflect that?"

To read the full article please click the link below:

Melbourne Catholic December 2017

 

 

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Intentions for 2018 inspired by our own 'HOPE' Collection.

In 2017, we released our "HOPE" collection jumpers, tees, wristband and tote. We enter this year inspired fully with the quotes on these items and wish to focus on the below goals for this year.
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Servi Store joins the Global Catholic Climate Movement's global network of member organisations!

The Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) is a global network of 400+ member organisations and a community of thousands of Catholics like you, responding to the Pope’s call to action in the Laudato Si’ encyclical.

From Genesis through Revelation, Catholics accept as a revealed truth that creation and its order is a good that we must embrace and steward. This has been echoed and championed by Church leaders for two millennia. In response to what God has given the human race—clean air, life-sustaining water, fruits of the earth’s harvests, and the bounty of the sea—we are called to honour God our Creator for these many blessings. We are obliged to respect these gifts, which are for all people.

Pope Francis in Laudato Si’ encyclical offers a unique challenge. “Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, at the same time protecting nature”. For us at Servi Store, we have taken this challenge to heart integrating it into our business operations. We endeavour to offer this in the products that we sell. People who make our products can overcome poverty because of the Fairtrade or similar certified entities that they work. Their dignity is respected and restored by the opportunities they have. We use eco-friendly raw materials as much as we possibly can. Every time you purchase a product from us, you help us to achieve this goal along with assisting our family run small business sustain.

We feel honoured joining hundreds of other Catholic organisations in the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM).
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