We work with many artisans across India and Nepal, below are some of the background stories on communities we have been working with and formed life long friendships with over the past 10 years.
MANDAKINI WOMEN WEAVERS, HIMALAYAS
Following the devastating landslides in July 2013 where almost 30,000 people perished, a rehabilitation project was initiated for the survivors - women and elderly who were left widowed or destitute.
Mandakini Women Weavers is now a group of 300 women and elderly, spread across the region in six villages, are learning to revive the skills of their ancestors, which fortunately have not been lost yet with the passing of generations. Skills which have the potential of developing into a vibrant and sustainable cottage industry with women at the helm.
Supported by Artisans of Fashion & Charitable Organisation Vision 2020 the construction of a spinning and weaving facility will b completed by the end of April 2015. This facility will provide a clean and safe environment for the women to work, creating beautiful hand spun, hand knitted and woven pieces that are now available through Cloth & Co.
PANCHACHULI WOMEN WEAVERS OF KUMAON, HIMALAYAS
Panchachuli Women Weavers was founded by Indian visionary Mukti Datta’s in an effort to transform the lives of women living near the Binsar Forest at the base of the Panchachuli Mountains. After witnessing how little these women were being rewarded for their laborious work in agriculture, livestock and housework, Mukti decided that it was time to find an alternative source of income for the women that would simultaneously protect the forest and improve the women’s living conditions. Thus the idea of the Panchachuli weaving co-op was born.
The Panchachuli Women Weaver’s cooperative provides economic and social independence for women in the Indian Himalaya using the traditional arts of weaving and knitting. The project has given the women an alternative way of earning income and has contributed significantly to the structural development of the Kumaon region.
Cloth & Co. works closely with Mukti and the Panchachuli women to create beautiful hand spun and woven products for the Australian market based on the traditional weaving skills combined with our contemporary design aesthetic. Working with the finest alpaca, cashmere and Australian Merino Wool these highly skilled women are producing beautifully crafted scarves, throws and blankets that are timeless in style and will last a lifetime.
The Anoothi Women’s Self Help Groups were formed to provide capacity development for women from marginalised communities who have been working in the Sex Trade through desperation and a lack of any alternative source of income.
These women; from being helpless, depressed with no hope for themselves or their children have now transformed into thinking, creative and independent women who now inspire others.
"It has given us a great feeling of being strong. We have developed a sense of self belief and we realise that we can never go back to that stage of being helpless and being exploited” - Firoza
Artisans of Fashion has been a strong supporter of Anoothi for a number of years and has recently helped with the establishment of a block print training unit which aims to train 200 women annually over the next five years. Cloth & Co. is working in collaboration with the women to design our gorgeous contemporary block printed homewares and accessories.
WOMEN WEAVERS, MADURAI
Our beautiful GOTS Certified organic cotton towels are hand woven by a small cooperative of women from a village in the hills outside Madurai in Southern India.
Many of these women are from Dalit Communities (socially excluded) and have little or no education. Weaving has provided them with a source of income, enabling them to send their children to school and maintain the family comfortably.
The unique weaving style for our hand loomed plush towels is a newly introduced skill for 6 of the women which has resulted in an increased income due to the technical ability required to weave these towels. We are delighted that we can offer these women the opportunity to build on their existing skills which will not only enhance their lives but also create opportunity for generations to come.
NEPAL WOMEN WEAVERS
Yak, Camel & Pashmina are some of the most luxurious natural fibres in the world.
Sourced from the nomadic herders in the high altitude Himalayas, the fibre is collected and hand spun before being woven into our beautiful Scarves, Blankets and Throws. Hand loomed by a group of women in Lalitpur village, Nepal, this is a sustainable livelihood option to agricultural work.
Not only is this a beautiful hand loomed heirloom piece, your purchase is supporting sustainable development, ethical labour practices and above all a superior product - the ultimate in ethical, sustainable luxury.