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Sujeet Sennik, in his own words

Fashion design saved my life.

Coming from a household of South Asian descent, in the late eighties, my life was pretty much predestined. The fact that I was really creative and gay put a wrench in the, “Be a doctor, get married and have kids,” mantra.

Due to the pressure to conform, I found myself on a balcony contemplating the end, thinking I had no choice. How could I shame my family? That night I decided to follow my passion before I spent the rest of my life trying to be someone I wasn’t. Jeanne Beker on Fashion Television showed me the way. With a lot of debate, I convinced my parents to let me go to Paris. My life, a true life began.

I found out I had a talent for the industry. I worked at Dior in the Haute Couture Atelier while studying and graduated with a job at Balenciaga, Paris.

As I made my way up the ladder, the clothing I would design became less expensive. I started working for myself and had a couple of lines that were sold in the States and Canada. I worked for department stores, chain stores and for garment manufacturers in China and India.

When the recession hit, it left the companies I worked for without freelance budgets so I had no choice but to go back to work full time. I had spent a decade travelling over 7 months out of the year and was burnt out. I wanted to live in Canada with my partner and close to my family.

Choices for an ex-design director were few and far between. Wal-Mart offered me a job as a designer with the ability to stay in Canada. It wasn’t my ideal job but I was grateful to be working when so many of my friends, along with the global workforce, were struggling. I had been dipping into my savings so the paycheque was appreciated.

It was this job that changed my life again.

This time it wasn’t my life that needed saving.

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The following are Op-ed pieces written by Sujeet Sennik prior to his journey to Bangladesh with the fifth estate in August 2013 : 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/i-designed-that-cheap-garment-i-lit-that-factory-fire-in-bangladesh/article7498897/

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/shouldnt-a-t-shirt-cost-more-than-a-latte/article11618013/