E-Commerce Platform Blends Art, Technology and Social Good
VIDA democratizes fashion through digital printing to support artists and craftspeople in the global economy
When Umaimah Mendhro was growing up in a small town in Pakistan, she dreamt of becoming an artist. Instead, she came to the United States as a young adult, earned an Ivy League education, then built a career in technology and business. Today, Umaimah blends her passions for art, technology, and business while helping her fellow Pakistanis break the cycle of poverty with the launch of her new e-commerce platform, VIDA.
VIDA offers one-of-a-kind scarves and tops from artists around the globe to socially conscious fashionistas. “I wanted to use technology to create a global platform that gives emerging designers all over the world an opportunity to share their gift with the world,” she explains. Artists receive 10% of the $45-$90 retail price for each of their pieces sold.
Once on VIDA’s platform, special direct-to-garment digital printers reproduce the image onto scarves or tops in a matter of seconds. The digital printer’s speed allows factories to greatly reduce their inventory and base manufacturing on demand giving consumers a more active voice in the process. Democratizing the design and production of these pieces capitalizes on the growing Maker’s Movement.
VIDA customers not only support emerging, global artists, but also the factory workers in Pakistan who produce the pieces. “I also couldn’t get out of my mind the huge footprint the textile industry has,” Umaimah reflects on her home country, “hundreds of millions of people [in countries like Pakistan] are building the industry with their hands and are struggling to get out of the cycle of poverty.” VIDA offers its workers a living wage and set up education and literacy programs to fight exploitation in the garment industry. “Education, in contrast to charity, is empowering,” she explains. “It gives people a voice in their communities and the ability to create a better future for themselves and their families.”
Given VIDA’s global designs, unique technology, and social giving, Umaimah imagines her consumer as a modern, cosmopolitan woman who is conscious both about design and her impact on the world. “Consumers favor options that allow them to feel more deeply engaged with the people who design and create the products they use everyday,” notes Dave Munichiello from Google Ventures, one of VIDA’s backers. Indeed, anyone who comes to own one of these unique fashion pieces can be confident she is supporting designers and craftspeople around the world.