Striving to Empower: An Interview with Jazzmine Raine
This week, Jazzmine Raine, Director and Co-Founder of Hara World, chatted with us about her incredible journey that led to the creation of Hara World.
Hara World is an experiential education and impact travel organization. They connect with young minds, involving them in environmental justice programs. In their own words, they aim to: "to use the power of travel to empower youth to step into their role as a leader for creating the world we want to live in".
With a passion to help people and share stories, Jazzmine tells us more about how she came to India to begin her Hara journey, her experiences with sustainability and always aiming to achieve a sustainable lifestyle.
This is her story.
Tell us a bit about yourself and Hara World.
At the very start of your Hara World journey, what drew you to work for an NGO in Gajner?
When I entered high school in 20006, I began my conscious living journey when I started to identify my privilege as a mixed-race female living in the Western world. I had access to just about everything I needed, including free-flowing clean water and electricity that never shut off, but knew this wasn't the case around the world. Growing up, my single mother was a travel agent and gave me the opportunity to travel the world from a young age, getting the opportunity to immerse in diverse cultures and learn through adventure.
Because of my love for travel, and wanting to bring more justice to the world on a social, economic, and environmental level, I started a nonprofit called Raine for Water in 2009. The organization focused on funding water sanitation and conservation projects around the world and eventually worked directly on agricultural development in Ghana. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing at the time but thought the best way to raise funds for these projects was to use my musical talent to host fundraising events.
After a few years of traveling through Ghana and across Europe, I began to develop a love for social innovation and the empowering impact young people had on sustainable development from a grassroots and community level. In 2014, I came across an opportunity to teach English in Jagatpura, Jaipur and within a few days, was booked on a 3-week volunteer trip to do so. Unfortunately, it was an awful experience and I got to see firsthand the negative impacts of voluntourism, and the need for empowering local leaders to run their own projects. As soon as I sat down on my return flight, I decided I needed to come back to India to explore this concept more. And what happens when you put that kind of energy into the world? The world answers.
In January 2015, I landed an internship with a local NGO to work on several grassroots development projects at their newest project center in Gajner, a village located 30km from Bikaner. After 6 months in project management working several projects, from a reusable menstrual pad project to a waste management initiative, I decided to stay on as a fellow for another year. I truly believe everything happens for a reason, and 2 months into the fellowship, I had to go home due to a health issue. I spent a year at home contemplating my next step, wondering how I could leverage everything I learned and continue to support the women and young people I had interacted with during my time in Gajner. I wanted to create a sustainable project that would continue to provide opportunities and education to those looking to make a difference in the future of India.
My colleague, Manoj Gour, and I became best friends during my time in India and connected on so many aligned values, from our love for hospitality and tourism to wanting to support young people in vulnerable communities that lack access to opportunity. During my time at home, I was leading a youth empowerment organization as Executive Director and facilitating programming onsite at the organization's social impact cafe and in schools and thought "what if we could do something similar in Bikaner?". I called up Manoj and suddenly, Hara House was a thing! In 2017, I flew back to India to structure the model with Manoj and find a house for us to launch. On October 28, 2018, Hara House, India's first zero-waste guesthouse hosted its first guests and the rest is history!
What particular experiences made you become passionate about supporting and developing sustainable initiatives from Bikaner to Hara World?
Honestly, travel is what made me passionate about sustainable development. Being able to connect with diverse people, having the opportunity to spend time studying water sanitation, sustainable agriculture, youth empowerment, arts & culture, and to just see the world, has made me feel very connected to our Earth and the need to sustain it. My belief is that by empowering youth, providing them with opportunities to feel connected to Mother Earth, and want to take the lead on nurturing her, we can conquer climate change and create the world we want to live in.
What is the most important lesson your sustainable journey taught you?
Tell us more about Casueartist and how the platform is important to you?
Causeartist is a social impact and lifestyle platform that connects people around the world to fashion, tech and businesses that put people and the planet first. The platform is important to me because, often, it's hard to see that real change is happening when we are constantly fed bad news, and see the impacts of consumerism on our cities, waterways, landfills, and,... well, all our resources. It's important for our mental health to take a look at what is being done and feel inspired to keep going on our personal journeys. Casueartist is also very dear to my heart because it gave me the opportunity to connect with so many like-minded people and entrepreneurs across the world, share their stories, share my stories, and launch, a kick-ass podcast to showcase India as a leader in social impact (THANKS, GRANT!).
What has been your proudest achievement in your work?
To take a vision and make it a reality.
When did you become aware of slow fashion and what would you like to see change in the fashion industry so that it can become even more sustainable?
I'd say I became aware of slow fashion just after college but I didn't realize it was slow fashion at the time. I've always been an admirer of fashion, however, I couldn't ever really afford to invest in clothing. I would flip through magazines in high school and then rip apart my closet trying to simulate the newest trends based on whatever my mom or I had already. When I entered college and was living on my own in Toronto, I used whatever budget I had to buy the cheapest fashion I could find. I didn't care about the cost, the tag, the material - I just needed clothing. Then I started to strategically pick out items that I knew would last - cotton, raw denim, bamboo. Then when I got my first job out of school and started making decent money, I actually realized I had way too many pieces of clothing and started to upcycle what I had when I wanted new pieces. I also realized that I was dumb for pouring all my money into clothing when I mostly wore the same things, and would much rather invest my money in travel and social impact. The more I traveled, and the more social impact projects I came across, the more I started to ask myself about who was making my clothing, the environmental impacts of the material being used, and how I could help the fashion industry become sustainable by being a conscious consumer.
Here's the thing about the fashion industry: the work is being done by so many incredible designers, entrepreneurs, and social impact organizations. It's slow because it takes time to change things, and I get that, but it is happening. What we really need is a consumer mindset shift., If more people realized they didn't need to buy to impress people, buy to stay trendy, buy for every occasion... the consumer mindset would actually change the fashion industry. As consumers, we have the power to create the industry we want to see, therefore our habits need to shift so the industry shifts faster.
Sui's new collection 'Flow', is all about slowing down to appreciating moments and nature around us. How do you manage to take a moment for yourself within your busy day?
What is your favorite 'Flow' piece?
Favorite? This is an unfair question. The entire collection is absolutely stunning and totally aligned with my style - comfortable and super boho chic. I'm a total sucker for hemp because it's a much more sustainable textile compared to cotton, and it's super soft. However, I freaking adore my Sandy Heart hemp trousers. I'm such a jeans girl but these totally work for every occasion, and the comfort is next level!
(Seen below: Jazzmine in The Flow knit crop top and our Sandy Heart trousers)
What is a green pledge you try to live by every day?
Before I buy anything I ask myself:
Who made it?
What is it made of?
Where was it made?
How was it made?
Why was it made?
This helps me identify if what I'm bringing into my life is aligned with my green living values.
What advice would you give others about how to live greener?
Making small changes on a regular basis is what leads to massive sustainable impact. Don't try to do everything at once, make a small shift in your lifestyle every day, every week, every month, that will help you lead a more hara lifestyle.
For more interviews and stories about our journey, check out the rest of our Green Journal blog here and to continue supporting us in our sustainable journey, check out our new winter edit, ‘Flow’.