Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in e-commerce fashion but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Prabaarja Bedi, owner and founder of UNfabricated, located in Toronto, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

UNfabricated is a socially and environmentally sustainable e-commerce fashion and home brand with a dual mission of, one, to reduce textile waste and two, to empower women.

With UNfabricated we are addressing two global issues. Currently, the clothing and textile industry is the second largest polluter in the world. One textile manufacturer generates approximately 6000 meters of surplus fabric which is enough to produce 2000 dresses. All this fabric ends up in landfills, thereby polluting our natural habitat. The second pressing statistic is that 87 million women in India are living in extreme poverty. These women, victims of poverty and patriarchal society, struggle to meet ends and make a respectable living.

In light of these issues, at Unfabricated, we up-cycle i.e. we reuse the surplus fabric to create new fashion and home products. All of our products are handcrafted by women artisans who belong to low-income families. These products showcase the versatility and the unique talent of these women.

UNfabricated acts as an educational platform to help our customers make conscious shopping decisions. We create these products for individuals who want to shop with brands that are ethical and align with their personal values. Our customers majorly consist of women in the age bracket of 25 to 45 years who want to shop style statement pieces that are also ethically made.

At UNfabricated we envision achieving three UN sustainable development goals, namely no poverty, gender equality, and responsible consumption and production. Keeping up with our values, we invest 20% of our profits in creating a training center to upskill the woman artisans that enable them to become self-sufficient while enjoying what they do.

Tell us about yourself

I was born and brought in India and growing up in a patriarchal society wasn’t easy for an ambitious woman like myself. It was hard to pave my way through but, with the support of my family, I kept carving a path for myself and in 2018 I went on to pursue my dreams of being an entrepreneur and flying abroad for my MBA to acquire the knowledge to do the same.

The alarming situation of our planet and the urgency of addressing it motivated me to learn about the concept of the circular economy. In 2019, a semester into my MBA, I took a course on Leading Sustainable Innovation, where I was introduced to the concept of sustainability and circular economy. I immediately started exploring ways in which I could apply the concept of sustainability, waste management, and circularity in the textiles industry as I could leverage my experience in my 30-year old family business in textile manufacturing. This is exactly, in November 2019, when the idea of UNfabricated started taking shape in my head. I was able to pursue my passion for empowering women and impacting the world with one idea i.e. of UNfabricated.

I wake up every morning and sleep every night to the thought of ways in which I can empower women. As an entrepreneur, my personal goal is to empower at least 200 women in the next 5 years, and this goal is further reflected in UNfabricated’s mission. Passion and hard work have driven me to a successful career throughout my work experience as a consultant, as an entrepreneur, and as a woman. I truly believe in giving back to society and am positive to empower many women and impact the world.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

We were to launch UNfabricated through a trunk show in 2020 the very week we were hit by the news of COVID-19. I had 50 pieces ready to sell through our first-ever in-person trunk show. However, due to newly imposed restrictions, we were unable to launch as planned. This left me with inventory and a frightening thought of “what next?”.

It took me a few weeks to settle in with the situation, but I was soon starting to participate in a Boston-based virtual start-up accelerator. During this accelerator, I was able to revisit the business model and our launch strategy. With guidance from mentors, we were able to create products such as face mask relevant to the times, continue employing our full-time female sample maker and educate over 200 uneducated and underserved people in Delhi about COVID-19 while donating masks to them. We were grateful to be able to help our community during the initial tough times. Further, we quickly pivoted and launched through our online store.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Running a business is about being focused and disciplined. You do not have a manager or a boss that assigns you tasks, you do not have anyone above you to turn for guidance or who can take the fall for you, you are not getting a fixed $ in your bank account every month. Being a business owner, you have to be your own boss and you have to pay yourself a salary, and that is the hardest part of all. The responsibility, accountability, and ownership are all to be taken by you as an entrepreneur.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

Find your passion: My first tip would be to find your passion! It is easier said than done for those who are in the “I do not know what to do” phase of life. It is important for your to identify things and issues that you feel strongly about. For example, women empowerment brings a sense of enthusiasm and motivation in me, and I say yes to any opportunity that comes my way that can enable me to empower women.

Grow a thick skin: Be prepared to fail! And, be prepared to learn from your failures. Entrepreneurship is not a straight path, it comes with twists and turns, sometimes even a dead-end. However, if you feel strongly about your mission and keep your focus on it, you will always find your way through those twists and turns. Don’t be afraid to unlearn what you have already learned, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and don’t be afraid to take a few steps back every now and then. Grow a thick skin so you can overcome any challenge and learn from your failures.

Grow your network: It is essential for entrepreneurs to surround themselves with like-minded and driven individuals. I have learned that entrepreneurship is also about growing your network, building strategic partnerships, connecting with your customers, finding mentors/advisors,  and building a community. Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey and your network will help you make this journey memorable.

Anything else you'd like to share?

Be grateful for the opportunities that come your way, and be the “yes” person.

Where can people find you and your business?

If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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