Simco Spinning & Textile, manufacturers of Cyclo recycled fibers with the concept of sustainable innovation. Recently Ayesha Shefa Director of Sustainability Simco Spinning and Textiles Limited shared his journey in the Textile sector, challenges & opportunity for being a women leadership with Textile Focus Team
Textile Focus: What inspired you to join the Textile sector and how did you prepare yourself to run a big business?
Ayesha Shefa: I had inspiration not from a single person but a number of people. It would be unfair to give the credit to one person or scenario. However, having said that my parents have been the greatest inspiration. There were few teachers from my high school and college who always believed in me and pushed me further. While growing up, I barely met my father, Mr. Mohammad Hanif, as he was always so busy booming his business and taking it where it is today. He only started from scratch but also used his organization to help people grow and do something for themselves.
I remember being in grade 8 when I told my parents that I wanted to be an entrepreneur and make them proud one day. Alhamdulillah, my parents were super supportive of that and respected my choice. Not long after that, I started working as a secretary to my father at home and dealt with all the important papers that he would bring home and assign me to work with. Step by step, I learned how the banks, a business organization, the hierarchy system works, and what to do in the certain situation over time. It was like an hour or 2 every day.
I still have a lot to learn, and I still do every single day. Every encounter, every experience just adds up. I still come back home and talk about it at all to my mother and she patiently hears at all, and gives me advice, just as I saw her giving my dad the advice he needed at the end of the day. Knowledge is never-ending. Consistency and continuous learning are the key.
Textile Focus: What are the recent scenario of Simco spinning & how are you maintaining sustainability?
Ayesha Shefa: We have reestablished our yarn as the brand Cyclo for recycled cotton yarn, and we aim to produce the most sustainable yarn and fibers in the market today. The mission for Cyclo is to show that it’s just not any commodity item you throw away, you can use our yarn to make more fashionable products, that can be adapted into the fast-fashion supply chain with our diverse colors and styles. For this, there has to be a good interaction between the designers and fiber/yarn/ fabric manufacturers.
Sustainability is at the core of our decision-making processes. Right now, it’s not so much maintaining, but setting a higher standard for sustainability than what the traditional minimum requirements are for the standard certifications. This also involves rejecting orders from clients that might meet certification requirements, but do not meet our sustainability standards.
Last year we recycled over 4000 tons of textile waste. The amount of water it takes to grow 1 kg of cotton it can be anywhere around 2000 to 20000 liters, so if you calculate the amount of water saved by recycling compared to organic or virgin cotton it’s in billions of tons. Our current focus is on our expansion efforts and hopefully double the capacity by the end of 2021. The goal of cyclo is to help the international brands/ global fashion market to make fashion items sustainable at a large scale and reducing environmental pressure.
Textile Focus: As you are a young women entrepreneur please give some suggestions for the upcoming young women who are about to enter the industry?
Ayesha Shefa: To tell you the truth, that challenge of being a woman entrepreneur still exists very much. Many people hold this opinion that the woman will lose their determination over time. This is a huge challenge because it acts as a mental pressure too. It is really about the mindset. To change a mindset is extremely difficult in the context of our country.
It’s still a male-dominated industry and thankfully many women are coming forward and trying to make the change and they are! If you really want it, do not hold back. Gather as much as knowledge you can, stay updated with the current global situation, and make strategic plans on how to reach your goals. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Believe in yourself and be confident in what you do, but always stay humble. It’s going to be a tough journey, but the results will be sweet with every success, small or big!
Textile Focus: What is your future plan and how do you want to contribute more in this sector?
Ayesha Shefa: Being more proactive and never stop learning. I hope to grow into a successful entrepreneur and be able to help more women grow. It takes years for natural fibers to decompose and man-made fibers do not decompose at all. Cyclo and its team strongly feel that it’s our responsibility to play our part in the society we live in and help to make our environment better for the next generation. I want to make a difference and set an example. Introduce this new method of clothing on a larger scale and show that recycling is not only sustainable but can be fashionable as well. We need everyone to help us in this journey.