Recording on an auspicious day and naming her company after her father
Growing up in Singapore
How working for the government of California was a pivotal point in her career
Moving to Silicon Valley Bank and establishing it in India
Taking 25 VCs on a trip to India that was fascinating on so many levels
Seeing something first-hand has to touch you
Businesses are getting more value-aligned
The what, why, and how of D/Sphere
The circular economy and second-life materials
The fashion industry’s contribution to the world’s pollution
Driving social and environmental impact
Fashion as a mechanism for telling stories
Came With Two Suitcases and Not Knowing a Person
Entrepreneurship Is About Being Able To Navigate In the Chaos
A Trajectory of Your Whole Journey
I Need To Show You Something
We Fundamentally Believe In the Human Expression
Empowering People To Create Impact
Repair, Resale, Rental and Recycle
The Store, the Studio, and the Story
Read the best-effort transcript below (This technology is still not as good as they say it is…):
Michael Waitze 0:00
Hi, this is Michael Waitze and welcome back to the Social Innovation Podcast. Today we are joined by Shamini Dhana, the founder and CEO at Dhana, Inc. It’s great to have you on the show. How are you doing today, by the way?
Shamini Dhana 0:21
I’m good, Michael. It’s a very significant day…and thank you for having me. Real pleasure and an honor.
Michael Waitze 0:27
Why is today a significant day is it just because you’re on this amazing show or Did something else happen and I’m not aware of it.
Shamini Dhana 0:34
You’re unaware of it. And so that’s why it’s pretty auspicious. Donna Inc, is my company that I founded in 2008. And it’s actually named after my father. His name is Donna, and today actually, is his fifth death year anniversary. I’m sorry. That’s okay. It’s actually an Asana. So it’s actually quite auspicious. I wouldn’t say and I went out on a bike ride this morning to honor Him because He was an avid cyclist, things like that. That makes so much more precious time.
Michael Waitze 1:09
Yeah, it really does. Where do you live?
Shamini Dhana 1:13
Michael? I’m actually calling in from San Francisco Bay Area. Oh, wow. Yeah. So that’s ahead of you. By a day.
Michael Waitze 1:25
I used to go to San Francisco a lot when I was at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. And I would run actually through the city. So I’d literally like run down a hill by the water and then run loop back around and back up to my hotel. I don’t know if you’re in San Francisco proper. But it’s it was a great place, at least back then to do athletics, and I haven’t been in the states since 2010. So it’s been a while.
Shamini Dhana 1:49
Yeah, well, well, you either run or you were just you know, advocate for the outdoors. Yeah, both. San Francisco is a wonderful place to be. I’m actually north of San Francisco in Marin County. So 10 minutes north. Nice. Yeah.
Michael Waitze 2:06
I was originally born in Santa Barbara.
Shamini Dhana 2:10
Santa Barbara. Wow. Okay. Well,
Michael Waitze 2:12
I like to say Santa Barbara because it sounds fancier than saying I was born on Vandenberg Air Force Base. but who’s counting?
Shamini Dhana 2:21
Now, Santa Barbara elude this, this whole illusion of the waters and beautiful beaches and sunsets. So I’m sure you’ve brought that with you now and to Asia.
Michael Waitze 2:33
I’m an ocean kind of guy. Like I don’t surf just because I’ve never been good at it. And I got caught in an undertow when I was like five or six years old in the Atlantic Ocean. It broke my surfboard. I don’t think I ever went back. That’s actually
Shamini Dhana 2:47
well, we have something in common. So I’m a tropical girl. And I grew up on an island called Singapore.
Michael Waitze 2:52
Did you I was gonna ask you, where are you from? Singapore. Originally?
Shamini Dhana 2:56
I was raised in Singapore. Correct? Yeah. And so I did all my undergraduate there. And my parents. Well, my mom still lives there now.
Michael Waitze 3:05
Yeah. So how did you get to California.
Shamini Dhana 3:08
But story, tell me, I came with two suitcases and not knowing a person except for the destination. Because my then Professor in Economics Department of Economics, were working on a World Bank project after graduating from the National University of Singapore, Department of Economics. And so he said, come and work with me on this great world bank project, which was a wonderful, but then he said, Now you have to get the hell out of here after a year. And he said, You need to go fly. And the best place to go is the United States. Because you’re so entrepreneurial, that’s the place you need to be.
Michael Waitze 3:51
Was your family you’ve already referenced your dad and your mom would say entrepreneurial people as well.
Shamini Dhana 3:57
Actually, in their own right, yes, because they’re very resources, sort of people but not as entrepreneurship, as you think here in Silicon Valley of the world. My dad actually only was with one company all his life after he graduated, and it’s freezing me. So it wasn’t 40 years from start to all the way to the top well, but it was one of those companies that took care of him and took care of the employees. And my mom is a English teacher and a geography teacher in high school. And so she did that all her life. She can’t tell you about much about geography. Now. They’re both I mean, that has passed but mom’s retired. Geography is kind of out of the window now with climate change and everything. Can’t really can’t really teach that as much.
Michael Waitze 4:46
I want to talk about climate change, obviously, because it’s very important to me and to you. But I want to talk a little bit about Silicon Valley Bank first if you don’t mind. Like I can see the connection between An economist doing some stuff at the World Bank and then working in finance. That makes sense to me. But Silicon Valley Bank is kind of this unique thing. And then getting it to India as well. I’m so interested in these conversations. Let me give you an example. There’s a tunnel underneath Chiba Bay, which actually Tokyo Bay, okay. And it took years to build. And the toll to go through it was very expensive when it first came out, I think it was like $75, or $100 to go through. So the only people that went through were people with Ferraris and Porsches, right. And they would race underneath there. But I always said like, I want it to be in the meeting. When that was approved, hey, let’s go the tunnel underneath Tokyo Bay to get to Chiba faster, because it’s not really necessary and getting cheap. It didn’t really take that long anyway. But I’m curious about this. First of all, working in Silicon Valley back 20 years ago or more, and then sitting in a room and convincing people, we should take this to India. Does that make sense? Like I really want to know how that happened.
Shamini Dhana 6:01
Yeah, by the way, you make references to Chiba, but that’s probably a billion dollar project, at least, at least more. So here’s the irony of it. I was part of before Silicon Valley, bang, I was on the California Governor’s task force. I worked for foreign direct investment for California, five years. And one of them was the billion dollar projects we hosted in San Francisco. So I’m sure that was one of the projects that was really on the table was between 94 and 1998. Believe it or not probably Yeah, exactly. I love it. Yeah. So understanding that California was seventh largest economy in the world, having these associations with multinationals and investors and things like that led me to understand how the biggest democracy in the world after, of course, India, but here in the, in the US in terms of the government’s intervention, which was California, the largest in the world, right, that was really a pivotal point, and actually led me to my next job, which was in Silicon Valley Bank.
Michael Waitze 7:15
But then how do you get that to India? Do you know what I mean? Because if we, here’s the thing, I have this concept that I call the fallacy of now. Right? So when people meet you or meet me, they think you were always as you are now doing what you’re doing now. And that that the path to here was like kind of already predetermined. And whether it’s the venture capital in India, or just all of the innovation and all of the startups that are coming out of India, this was not predetermined at any level, right? It didn’t have to happen, per se. So today convincing someone you should have a VC office or you should invest in private equity, you should just be have an office in India, it seems so obvious, right? But 20 something years ago, was it that obvious to the people at Silicon Valley Bank? They’re like, Yeah, okay. I mean, you just go do this,
Shamini Dhana 8:04
To the, to the credit of Silicon Valley Bank, which I must say, is a pioneer bank. And, you know, it’s, it’s literally banked over 30,000 technology companies. So it’s saw the catalyst and the impetus of where technology was coming from, and where, where the trends were going, and where the markets were going to be in the future. They have a pulse. And so that was really the impetus of Silicon Valley Bank saying, you know, what, we’re starting to see movement and creativity and the emergence of new technology coming from India. And at that point, in 1999, it was only $70 billion under management when I arrived. I still remember and, you know, today it’s $70 billion under management, right? But my job at that point was to know anyone and everyone in the technology world, right, including the venture capital, private equity, and understand the pulse and there was a lot of development between Silicon Valley and India when it comes to cross border work. Yeah. And so we, we ended up eventually planting a office in India, in Bangalore. Prior to that, we took something like 25 VCs on a plane from Silicon Valley to see what was going on in the world and India. If that plane had crashed, it was probably around 40 billion in assets. But it didn’t, but it really opened the eyes of these venture capitalists. I took about you know, a good year and a half to two years to to plan and it was a great success. Today. All those VCs now have an arm in India.
Michael Waitze 9:53
You know, there’s a long plane ride from San Francisco from California to India. I don’t even know if back then it was a direct flight. But there must be the sort of anticipation about what’s going to happen. I’m sure that they were prepped by you and other people before they went there. And again, I remember when I went on my exchange program right to Kyoto, so I studied in Kyoto for my, my junior abroad. And I was on the plane with a bunch of other kids. And there was this weird antics because we’d never been to Japan before. We kind of knew what to expect, kind of. But of course, we were 19. So it’s different than being like a 40 year old. But still, like what you get, and what you expected to get can sometimes be completely different, right? Sure. So what was that trip? Like? Really? Do you remember?
Shamini Dhana 10:40
Oh, yes, I still do. And mind you, they were prepped? Well, so a little bit of contact? Yeah, because I was working in the governor’s office, I was one of the lead people to take the governor to Asia. And we did this a lot. So we had to, he did his big trip, Governor Pete Wilson at that point, and I was a government employee to seven countries in 21 days, right. So we need to, we needed to plan all that. So they could see all that. And so our motive here was not only to prep them, for the culture shock that they were about to face, right. But also, what’s really interesting is the nuances of using leveraging technology for the local economy. Right. And there’s this big word that people used to use. And probably it’s forgotten now. And that is the bottom of the pyramid in India. Well, right. Yeah. are probably bigger in populations than it is here in the United States. 400 million people, right. Yeah, that was my number. So that’s, that’s taking the technology and making sure that these you can serve, you know, the bottom of the pyramid and unleash a huge amount of resources to get them going, which we probably did with, you know, very structured finances, and then now being able to use that technology and looking at it across industries. Right. And so we went to Bangalore, we got to see not only technology, but also work with a retail and some of the big telecom industries. We went saw some media. It was, it was fascinating on so many different levels.
Michael Waitze 12:37
Tell me, I’m really curious.
Shamini Dhana 12:39
Yeah. So it was fascinating. Because it was the first time many of these VCs unless they were born in India, and some of them actually wanted to, I believe actually, they actually saw chaos at its best. Right? And today, if you look at a new report that just came out 90 of the founders of the top 500. Unicorns are Indian.
Yeah. Not shocking to those of us that live and…
You want to ask why, right? Yeah, that is entrepreneurship is, I truly believe is really about being able to navigate in the chaos and navigate well.
Michael Waitze 13:20
So this is one of the reasons why I love living in Bangkok. Because from the outside, it looks so chaotic. But I like to say that there’s order inside that chaos if you just pay enough attention. The flipside of that is that, because it looks so difficult from the outside, it’s too chaotic. I’d rather be in a city that it’s maybe more organized. But that also deters people from trying. So it also makes the universe of people that try potential decent in Thailand smaller, which leaves this massive opportunity. Now India’s filled with one point something billion people, so it’s not a small population. But because it looks hard from the outside, you kind of have to be there to understand it looks chaotic. But there’s actually incredible order here. And part of that order inside that chaos is what makes it so investable. There’s one other thing though, is also this, this group of IITs in India, right? That I think also contributes to this incredible technology, technology and technological education. So you combine that entrepreneurship, the order in the chaos with the education, and you’ve just got a really powerful triangle. No.
Shamini Dhana 14:38
Yeah, it’s you’re absolutely right, Michael, the brain power, right that’s coming out on this continent. It’s just mega insane. right with it. And then there I think there’s a couple of other few things, which I think is remarkable and only just fascinating. The very hard working people very hard work. Being pious, and also collaborative. Everything is everything functions in, you know, it takes a village like that, that’s what happens. So nobody in, in their heart and in their culture knows this whole thing about doing it for themselves. It’s all it is part of their mindset. And I think that collaborative collaboration spirit is is really core to their, to their work.
Michael Waitze 15:31
So in a recent show that I did with a guy named Ed Budi, who is the founder and the CEO of a company called reach 52. And reach 52 is essentially trying to, I think it was the World Health Organization, he told me that 52% of the world’s population doesn’t have access to just like basic medical care. And that’s why he called this company reach 52. But you’ll see where this is going in a second. When he graduated from university in the UK, he went on a trip, and instead of doing what most of his friends did, which was just go to France and Spain and Italy, and kind of have this sort of relaxing backpacking trip, he said he wanted to go somewhere different. So he came to South Asia and Southeast Asia. And he the things that he saw, changed the way he looked at the world. This is according to him, and you can listen to the whole conversation that he had, but he said, Yeah, but he said something that a lot of people said to me, once you see it, you can’t unsee it. You can’t forget about it. And that drives the way he’s building his company today. And where he’s focusing, and I think that had to have happened. Even if it wasn’t explicit 20 something years ago, when those venture capitalists came to India with you, and they looked around, they’re like, Okay, if I really think about this in a way that’s futuristic, there is chaos, but there is water and a super hardworking, super well educated population. We have to be here kind of thing. And once they saw it, here’s the thing too, though. And that and I talked about this, and I’m curious about your opinion. If you don’t actually go see it. It’s hard to explain No.
Shamini Dhana 17:02
absalutely on on on the spot there. There are certain things in life. Seeing is believing. Right? Yeah. And it words don’t really describe an experience unless you have one that is visceral. Yeah. Right. Yeah. And, look, you know, I always thought when I was growing up, that I wouldn’t be an entrepreneur. And that visceral feeling happened in India when I witness firsthand the exploitation of children. Right. And that changed my life, my course of my life. Because you, you know, you can have an open mind to things. But when you see something firsthand, it has to touch you. And it did for me.
Michael Waitze 17:51
Yeah. Do you think and this is important, right? So you were fortunate, I don’t like to use the word lucky. But you were fortunate because you got to go and see that. And it did change the way you felt about a bunch of different things the same way change the way Ed felt about it, right, and changes the course of your life, because then you go and build something that hopefully tries to impact and change that. But do you think, and maybe COVID accelerated this, I hate to keep going back to this, but it’s there and you can’t again, you can’t unsee it? Do you think the way we work? And the geographies in which we can work? also impact the way we behave as consumers? Do? You don’t mean like if you saw the exploitation of children, and let’s say they’re working in like a sneaker factory, or a clothing factory, you think, Wait a second, every time I buy that T shirt for my children? I can’t unsee the fact that there’s a play somewhere where kids are working, and they’re being exploited. Do you know what I mean?
Shamini Dhana 18:41
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, other the power of the internet, and the various different mediums coming to play with video and social media. Those scenes are now taking place more and more. Right? Yeah. But to your point, there are people who hear about these things, and I still in denial, they don’t want to know they don’t want to see. Right. And I think the frequency of our hearts and minds are attuned to the this aspect of the human behavior, the human predicament. And we’re actually going to wards more and more of business, being attuned and value aligned, because there’s no separation. There’s no demarcation. You can’t isolate this anymore. No, write what you value you really are going to protect, but it’s also an extension of how you’re going to live your life.
Michael Waitze 19:49
Yes, so So Fred Wilson used to say famously, like I don’t invest in any companies that are not within 100 miles of my office, right because I can’t understand them. The Japanese also have a quota was on I’m trying to remember it, you heard me typing because I was trying to remember it, it says something like this, the frog in the well doesn’t know the ocean. Because it can’t conceive of it. And I do have this theory again, just getting back to this whole idea of that, like, how do you explain the impact of every little step along a supply chain to somebody, not just what happens, like in a factory somewhere, but all these little steps, so that they can change their mind. And that as a business person, or even as a consumer, they change the way they do business? Or change the way they consume? How do you do that?
Shamini Dhana 20:35
There’s no one size fits all, for sure, I can tell you that. But what I can do is demonstrate, illuminate, right, be able to use leverage technology so that you can actually connect to those people which we are doing. But you know, coming back to, you know, I won’t invest in a company that’s more than 100 miles. The fashion industry is so complex. And yet, you can’t buy a piece of garment today, as it was before where you didn’t virgin? where much of it is imported all over the world, the assembly might take place in the US maybe? Maybe, maybe. But if you really want to get to the crux of it. No, it’s not. you
No, you have to go to Bangladesh, or Vietnam or China or somewhere like that and actually experience it, then it’s got to go through the whole supply chain.
Exactly. From the buttons to the zip, you know, to the thread. It’s all that. So minds have this ability to say yes, we want to invest in a company for the teams maybe to be in 100 miles. The product itself may not. Yeah. So
Michael Waitze 21:48
how does a banker get into fashion?
Shamini Dhana 21:53
With a big challenge, of course, and a big smile, because what the calling is to one person can be the destination and also a huge amount of fulfillment to another. And so
Michael Waitze 22:10
before you go on, I just want to put it into context as well. A lot of people probably ask you this, but I like to look for a thru line. And I’ll tell you why people ask me, right, I worked at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, I was there for 20 something years, right doing this thing. And that people ask me, Well, how did you get into like, the media business? How do you make that transition? And I said to them, Look, when I was 12, and 13 years old, and I would go to somebody Bar Mitzvah, I took the microphone when the guy had the video camera, like I’ve been doing this my whole life. Right? So again, the fallacy of now what looks to someone like something new, maybe isn’t new? And that’s kind of what I wanted to know, right? In the sense that Yeah, did you really make a transition? Or did you go back to something is more interesting, right?
Shamini Dhana 22:52
So I love what you just said, because I really think that if you if you look at anyone and everyone, what you end up doing in life is actually a trajectory of your whole journey get exactly.
Michael Waitze 23:02
That’s the point I want. Right? So I really do
Shamini Dhana 23:05
believe it. I do. I do. But if you even if you look at my whole journey, right, coming from Singapore, which everything was important, right, and I really loved nature, still do. My biggest fan advocate. My master’s thesis was on businesses environment, responsibility, this is responsible for the environment. Right. So and then with the Rio Summit happening in 92, as the President of United Nations Association in Sacramento, I saw that and said, Okay, we’re going to do a nonprofit and conference again, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s there’s a thread that goes all through the years. Right. Right. But if you really look at it, the environment and businesses was always there. Right? The the understanding of bringing finance and banking has to be there too, which I did, right. And then finally, while in India, having that opportunity of being fortunate enough to be thrown by a good friend who said, I need to show you something over and above the money making in the profit thing and the technology that you are spending time on, he brought me to the slums, and that’s when it happened. Yeah. All right. But here’s the thing, there’s a visceral effect, there is the aha moment where he recalls and says, Oh, my God, this is exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. But also having the realization that everything you’ve learned along the way, including technology and finance will be used at some point to bring this together, which is where I am today. Exactly. Yeah. You never ever discount it. anything that you’ve done, because there is a reason?
Michael Waitze 25:02
That’s why I want to ask that question then give it context, because it sounds like a stock question that anybody would answer. But I mean that anybody would ask, but it’s actually not. Because it has to be the sum total of your experiences to get you to hear. You can’t just wake up one day and say, I want to do this, because you have to have all these other experiences to do it. Yeah,
Shamini Dhana 25:23
yeah. It’s a living organism. Like it’s, you know, it’s still life. Yeah. And, right. And so what you’re called to do tends to be something that it’s like a marriage, right? You borrow. You borrow from the past, and you take take every little element and make those relationships work. Yeah. To your, into your current present genre.
Michael Waitze 25:49
I mean, in some ways, you can’t get away from what you’ve done in the past. But if you’re, if you’re doing it the right way, you can actually use and employ all that stuff to make what you’re doing today, way better than it would have been if you just up and decided I wanted to do X, can you talk a little bit about D sphere, I really want to dig a little bit deeper into D sphere, what it is, what it does, why it does it? And this whole idea of like the circular economy and sustainability, if that’s cool.
Shamini Dhana 26:14
Sure. Again, I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity, Michael, it’s, it’s important. So D/Sphere, again, is a culmination of 13 years in the making, right? And so D stands for Digital fashion in the digital world, in the digital economy and spirits symbolism for equality and equity in the shared economy, which is all about diversity and inclusion as well. Yeah. And so the ethos of what to call them of this fear is why we exist as be fundamentally believed in the human expression, right? People, humans really seek out creative way to express themselves that what we believe in how we do that, is through fashion. Right, we believe we can unlock that creativity through fashion. And by this way, it is using fashion that is already circulating in the economy. So we’re not taking it from Virgin. But we’re using it what we call Second Life materials. So used clothing and fabric, right? And so what are you doing here with these here, we’re basically empowering people to create, impact and celebrate fashion. And this is what we call fashion recreated. So this is actually fashion creative. It’s very simple. Today, most if not all of clothing is conceived and generated by fashion companies and fashion brands. And yet we’re in a shared economy, right. And yet this way of doing clothing or producing clothing has always been looked at a way of money making. And in some linear business model, where you take from the earth, you make a piece of clothing and you throw it out, and it goes into the landfill. So here’s a data point. It is said that the fashion apparel industry is one of the most polluting in the world. 70% that’s the data that was given of the tree trillion dollar industry ends up in the landfill, or incinerator. That’s one Garbage Truck have in every second that goes to the landfill. So we do have a problem. There’s apparently, you know, a billion teachers made every year. So what if we never touched virgin anymore? And I’m not saying this is the solution for everyone. But what we are saying is if you can harness what is already out there, right, so that the shirt that you’re wearing the scarf, and then make it into new clothes, that would be fundamentally a game changer. So coming back to your question on circular economy or circular fashion. Circular is the solution towards being as instead of being a linear business model circular is basically designing out of waste and pollution and being able to extend a piece of clothing as long as possible. And that’s what we are in today. Michael, you know about circular fashion, because there already four out there for business models. There’s the repair, there’s the resale, there’s rental, right and there’s recycle. And we come in as repurposing and that’s basically what we’re doing. We’re leveraging technology and using artificial intelligence so that they can see Humans now can actually create a piece of clothing using digitization. Just think of this is Canva, for fashion design using Second Life material.
Michael Waitze 30:13
But in a way, it’s more than that, if you don’t mind me saying, Sure. So if technology is now allowing us to create a two sided marketplace and information marketplace for almost everything that we have, right, it means now that if a t shirt it gets created in Bangladesh, or in Vietnam gets sold in Paris, that somebody in San Francisco can now access through technology, the raw materials, or the supply side of things that are potentially getting thrown away, and then repurpose it, reuse it, make it into another kind of fashion, whether it’s just cutting out like this little piece here. And, you know, so we get on to something else, which is simplified, or just taking the whole garment, and repurposing the entire thing. This is cotton, right? So working, it’s just dyed cotton, it’s sewn together. So what could you do with that, but then connecting that to the person who can’t get to some other sorts of cotton somewhere else in the world, and allowing them to create their own fashion, because in my mind, the world again, I hate using the word circular, but it does go in cycles, right? In the old days, you bought clothes from somebody in your town, somebody was making them or your or your family made them for you. And then they started doing it at scale. It started getting mechanized, it started, you know, they looked at Ford and said a Ford can make a car in a way that’s, you know, mechanized, we can make clothes in the same way. But now it’s coming full circle, again, where people say, I’d rather buy from somebody in my town. Because I know that if I give them money, then they can go to the restaurant or the coffee shop here to give them money. And this creates this. But it does that right? It creates this sort of vibrancy in the economy. But what that what that means, though, is then that individuals now get to take advantage of the global supply chain using technology to then connect to this stuff that would have otherwise just been thrown away. I presume that’s what D spheres also doing. So it’s more than just because Canva is just a way to design something digitally. But you must be connecting the supply side to the demand side as well. No,
Shamini Dhana 32:14
we are exactly we are it’s actually a marketplace. So you touched on it very well. It’s it’s allowing people to do to drive social environmental impact in the their own cities in their regions, for sure. Right. It’s also giving them the tools to use fashion as story telling mechanism.
Michael Waitze 32:39
Go ahead. So this is obviously very interesting to me, how does how does that work?
Shamini Dhana 32:44
So D/Sphere is phenomenal in the sense, what we’ve created is your one action can have a ripple impact in 15 different ways. But here’s the thing, if you really step back, I would say you know, 99.9% of all of us wear clothes every day. Correct, Michael? We’re not going to talk about the ones who don’t. But if you look at all the milestone events, that has happened in your life, right, so from your graduation to your birthday, you know, your parents anniversary, the sports, you know, going to see your favorite rock concert, all that you actually wear clothes in them. Yeah. Right. And so we don’t actually associate and what if we did our clothes with memories? Right. And so if you can repurpose those clothing, into new clothing syndrich into new fashion, right, and the clothes that you have in your wardrobe. And mind you, many of us, I mean, there have been, you can actually say how many, how many of us actually work wear 100% of our clothing every every year? Probably not. It’s so funny.
Michael Waitze 34:01
You said a lot of it, you know, because of I don’t have a lot of clothes. But I was counting the shirts in my closet yesterday afternoon after I did laundry and I was like, I don’t need this many shirts Anyway, go ahead.
Shamini Dhana 34:11
Yeah, you can’t. And so you can repurpose that into because you have those memories attached to it. And so D/Sphere allows you to do that to repurpose your memories into clothing that now, right you just unlock your own creativity on this platform. You’ve got a one of a kind that can tell stories over and over again. And we have so many of them that it’s remarkable how people are using it as storytelling.
Michael Waitze 34:39
Yes. So I’ve had this idea for a long time. I want to run this by you. It’s a movie idea. Because I think movies are a great way to tell stories, right? Because you have this like deep visual aspect to it but also this audio as a bunch of different things you can do in that sort of two hour format right there This idea of an heirloom, right? So I asked you to marry me using the ring that my grandfather gave to my grandmother kind of thing. It just makes it a little bit more special. But clothing is something that we do this with all the time. And I’d love to see, I like the backstory almost more than I like the front story. Right? So, two people get married, who cares? That happens every day. But the tuxedo that the guy wore, or the wedding dress that the woman wore, may may have come out of like some war torn country where like the grandmother escaped from that’s more interesting to me. Right? Do you know what I mean? So I’d rather see that wedding happened, and then tell the story about the clothing kind of thing. Because the backstory is more interesting to me than the front store. Do you do that? Like do you allow that allows you to enable that on the platform?
Shamini Dhana 35:48
Yes. So D/Sphere actually has three different modules, the store, the studio, where you design, and then the stories part, which is all about the number one question, we ask you the social media platform for fashion, it’s basically asking, what is your fashion story? And everyone has a fashion story. You know, in India, most people don’t know this. And this is a campaign we would love to run some time in the world to be fascinating. In India, you know, when you get married, most of the brides, you know, they take their saris, and they make them into baby hanging clothes, you know, like, right. And so it gets repurposed. Yep. Right. And so that’s already being done, whether we like it or not, but those stories are not being told. Right? And so what if every, every generation, new things are added to say a jacket or a dress and made it, you know, intergenerational now? Yeah, right. I like to see a world you know, less before we hit 2050. Well, over half the population has come on to the sphere, and created a one of a kind piece at least for themselves, and handed them down over and over again. And we’ll be looking at personalized fashion all over.
Michael Waitze 37:15
I saved. But when I graduated from college, I took one of my college sweatshirts. I wore it obviously through like my first few years after I graduated from school and was working in New York and stuff like that. But at some point, it started getting tattered. And I thought if I keep wearing this, it’s just going to disintegrate. But what I really want to do with this, fold it up, get a dry cleaning to put in a closet somewhere. And when my daughter goes to college, give it to her. Do you know what I mean?
Shamini Dhana 37:43
Ultimately, yeah, that would be fascinating. And not only that, such a heartfelt. Here’s the other thing on off platform because we have these templates where you basically make create your own clothing. And to your point, you’re not only going to be able to hand that to her, you can actually say and to say that you’ve had a serious impact on the environment, because you’ve saved X amount of water, carbon emission and energy. That’s what we also want you to realize, right? And there’s no chemical intervention here. No, just repurposing.
Michael Waitze 38:18
Do you get a sense again, from from what you’re doing on a day to day basis? And again, you’re not new at this? You’ve been doing this? Since when you say when did you found Donna? 2008. Right. So almost 15 years ago, it’s called 14, just to be accurate? Do you see a generational change? In other words, if you look at the people that you knew 1415 years ago, when you started down, and then you start to look at the next generation of young adults, are they looking at the world, not just fashion, we can use fashion as the example right in a way that’s different so that they are looking at it in a more Sister, you know, when you give that sweater to your son or your daughter, they’re probably thinking, Oh, this is neat. My dad cares about me, but they’re probably also thinking that’s one less thing that I have to buy. That’s virgin. Yeah.
Shamini Dhana 39:05
Yeah, I see it as a consciousness that is arising, because they know that everything is made today. Right, especially in fashion that has an impact. And so they want to know if I’m going to be given something that it was made ethically. Yeah, that’s my point, though. Right? Right. They don’t want to have, you know, you know, for lack of a better word blood in their hand or be told that such and such a person made this but didn’t have a voice. Right, right, or, you know, was ripped of their ability to contribute or was not being honored. They want to be part of that extension to know that they really are caring, and the web has made it so such that these, these stories are really coming out.
Michael Waitze 39:54
Again, to get back to something we talked about earlier. If you can connect the content Zoomer with the environment in which that product was created. There is, I think, this generational change saying I don’t want to be associated with that.
Shamini Dhana 40:11
Exactly. Now that it’s both the environment as well, socially, and we’re doing both of them simultaneously. That’s why it’s a level up. And we’re certified B Corp. It’s holding ourselves accountable to people and planet, right. And you can do that I have the statement I make from the day I started, and that is the realization having seen that is every day we put a piece of garbage on ourselves that has the power to connect us to people planet. Yeah, really does that piece of the question is whether we allowing ourselves and whether we are open minded enough to care.
Michael Waitze 40:53
I think I want to end there. It’s a great message to end with. This has been an incredible conversation. Shamini Dhana, founder and CEO of Dhana Inc. I love the fact by the way that you named it after your dad because it says it says something about you and just the way you think about like your place on the planet. And like I said, it’s all this long, continuous, iterative journey to here. And I think that’s part of it. Anyway, thank you so much.
Shamini Dhana 41:24
‘Dhana’ means offering by the way, our word ‘dhana’ mean, offering it’s an offering of a new way of looking at something in fashion. Thank you, Michael. This has been such an honor…and a privilege.