Meet the founder and creative director of behno.
Shivam Punjya is the face behind the consciously-made handbag brand, behno. Punjya founded the brand to address poverty and global health through the textile industry, and it has since grown immensely into a brand that provides ethically manufactured clothes and accessories while showcasing a different side of the Indian garment industry.
Today, HOLR is sitting down to chat with Shivam about his journey, where he discusses his beginnings as well as the brand’s greatest accomplishments to date. Keep reading to learn all about Shivam and how behno came to be.
Tell us all about yourself and the journey to founding your brand, behno.
I founded behno to redefine what the marriage of manufacturing ethics and luxury design could look like. It’s the brainchild of my experiences during my academic career at both UC Berkeley and Duke University. After studying political economics and global poverty at UC Berkeley and working for an education advocacy nonprofit based in India, I was intrigued by global health and social entrepreneurship. I wanted to see how benefits from India’s education system could be maximized with its midday meal policy that was in place. So, I matriculated at Duke and started my masters program there.
Time flew by, and I soon found myself doing my thesis research in India, where I came to learn quite a bit about textile workers, their families, and about a disparity that existed between what they were producing and what they were earning. As I was exploring the textiles industry, I gained insight into a larger picture and into the global perception of “made in India,” which was either negatively received or quickly dismissed. This, coupled with the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, shook my world up.
I was compelled to challenge the common perception of ethical fashion in different markets by employing an ethical manufacturing ideology and also by ensuring that our front-end label, behno, maintained strong design sensibilities. We crafted “The behno Standard,” which is a bottom-up set of principles that keeps garment workers and artisans at the center of the conversation.
behno debuted its first RTW launch in FW15. Three and a half years ago, we pivoted into accessories, and it’s become a strong focus for the brand. We launched with Bergdorf Goodman and have slowly been introducing new styles globally at www.behno.com.
Talk to us about the different types of products we can shop from the brand.
While we launched as an RTW collection, we pivoted into handbags and small leather goods about three and a half years ago. We have the gamut – shoulder and crossbody bags, totes, and fun wallets. During the pandemic, we introduced a new brand, nanamota, which creates The World’s Softest Basics, including tees and masks. Everything is available at www.behno.com.
behno has grown so quickly- what are some of the brand’s greatest accomplishments to date?
The greatest accomplishment for me has been finding and bringing together the dream team. Ashley Austin and Saumya Sharma, who both spearhead our design team, really understood the mission and vision of the brand when they each joined on and this was critical. Finding a dream team that saw eye to eye on both the design philosophy and the social impact the brand strives to have was imperative. We don’t exist without each other.
What does the future hold for behno in terms of what we can expect to see from the brand?
We’re expanding! We’re creating new designs, all really carefully thought out that can seamlessly integrate into our modern-day lives. Our lifestyles are changing and our handbags should reflect the same. We’re also excited to enter new markets, namely the India market. Stay tuned!
Published by HOLR Magazine.