Social Fabric

Michael Rubenstein / Redux

Man of the cloth
Bissell preaches pragmatism

William Bissell inherited a company built on good intentions. His father, John Bissell, went to India in 1958 on a Ford Foundation grant, married an Indian woman and never left. The Bissells started a business exporting handmade textiles, and their company, Fabindia, thrived on sending traditional crafts to the West, just in time for the first wave of baby-boomer bohemian chic.

In 1998, John Bissell died, leaving his then 31-year-old son with a daunting choice. William could let the company coast (the export business was doing well, but handweaving limited the volumes...

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