A People- and Planet-Conscious Company
What started as a passion project turned into a business for Shanthi Ramakrishna, Johns Hopkins. Shanthi founded Taara Projects, a fashion-social enterprise, to create a more ethical, equitable and sustainable world.
“Taara translates to 'star' or 'light' in the language of Sanskrit,” says Shanthi. “At the end of the day, our team hopes to fulfill the meaning of our name — of being a point of light, or a star, to someone in need. This ethos underlies our commitment to upholding a model centered on ethicality and empowerment.”
It Started on a Plane
The idea for Taara was born 30,000 feet in the sky. Shanthi and her parents were en route to visit family in India during her senior year of high school. On the plane, Shanthi sketched a pair of pants she wanted to make on the trip. She ended up producing about 35 pairs to bring home to sell to her friends and classmates in Orlando, Florida. All proceeds were donated to nongovernmental organizations she’s passionate about and has worked with. Shanthi says, at the time, Taara was a small way for her to try to understand the most effective ways to address poverty.
As a freshman at Johns Hopkins, Shanthi decided to breathe new life into Taara. The first product and partnership was an homage to Taara’s roots. Shanthi and her team partnered with Zy-lk in Chennai, India, to create a rendition of the original pants she designed in high school. “Zy-lk’s mission aligned perfectly with ours. They’re all about the ethical treatment of their workers,” says Shanthi. “As well as using environmentally conscious practices and materials throughout the production process.”
Kappas Team Up
One of Taara’s most recent product launches was in partnership with The New Norm, a sustainable fashion brand founded by Lauren Choi, Johns Hopkins. Using The New Norm’s recycled fabric, Taara partnered with Belvidere Terrace Atelier — a small-batch, Baltimore-based manufacturer — to produce sustainable and chic tote bags. For each tote bag made, up to one pound of ocean plastics are diverted and recycled.
A Sustainable Future
Shanthi hopes Taara will provide customers an option to make more conscious choices in what they’re buying or wearing. “Working on Taara since my freshman year has been so fulfilling and an eye-opening experience,” says Shanthi. She’s realized that social entrepreneurism is the field she’d like to enter — and make a splash in — after graduating.