WHAT DO OUR INTERNATIONAL ARTISANS HAVE IN COMMON:
THEY ALL PRESERVE ARTISTIC TRADITIONS WHILE PROVIDING TRAINING & DIGNIFIED WORK.
Our partner in India is a dynamic non-profit that has over 20 years of experience working with the preservation of artistic traditions. They have worked with over 1000 artisans on projects that encompass elevating the crafts that have existed within their region for centuries, preserving their artistic history through museum development and ensuring its future though design training for local artisans.
A relatively new country, India only gained independence in 1947. Since then this magnificent country has seen many twists and turns along its road to development. Even with the immense progress it has made, India continues to have high levels of poverty and currently is home to one-third of the world’s extreme poor.
TECHNIQUES: Hand Appliquéd Ribbon
The appliquéd ribbon technique you see being used on our bags and mat holders was designed by a group of ingenious female artisans working with our partner. After the women in the community were told by the men of the tribe that they could no longer embroider (the task was taking too much attention away from their other household obligations), they then began to decorate their clothing with pre-made ribbons bought at the local market. When the women took this idea and adapted it to bags, it created a whole new texture and aesthetic. We were inspired by their ingenuity and loved this new look so much, we had to make sure that it made its way onto our beautiful handmade pieces.
TECHNIQUES: Hand Embroidery
Embroidery has long been used by cultures to decorate, create a store of wealth and tell stories. The embroidery styles incorporated into our pieces do all three. We never dictate what design must be embroidered, but instead allow the artisan to find a design that speaks to her and tells the story that she wants to share with the world.
Suf (seen on our Gather Purse) - A painstaking process that involves embroidering over a specific count of the fabric's warp (vertical threads) and weft (horizontal threads) to create a beautifully precise satin stitch. Designs are never drawn onto the fabric, but instead imagined and then counted out and executed from the backside.
Our partner in Nepal is a self-funded NGO, focusing on bettering the lives of Nepali women through literacy, vocational training and dignified employment. They also directly help to preserve the traditional craft of hand weaving on a backstrap loom – a technique that has been used in Nepali homes for centuries but is becoming increasingly rare as markets are flooded by machine made imports.
Once a Hindu kingdom, Nepal entered a new era at the turn of this century after it’s King was assassinated. Since then this beautiful Himalayan country has seen violence and turmoil as a new nation is slowly being born. Nepal is still one of the poorest countries in the world, with an estimated 40% of its population living below the poverty line. Women are especially vulnerable and very often excluded from educational and employment opportunities.
All of our hand woven products are 100% cotton and hand dyed before weaving. The weaving is then done on a rudimentary backstrap loom. This involves a process where a very simple loom is secured around the weaver and then fixed to another point. This limits the fabric width to only a few feet but creates a very intimate product, as the weaver is literally immersed in her craft.
Our partner in Malawi, Mayamiko, is a London-based on-profit working to change how we source our fashion products, while creating new opportunities for income generation in Malawi. They use only locally sourced goods, sponsor training and educational opportunities, ensure a transparent supply chain and adhere to the principles of the Ethical Trade Initiative. For each piece that well sell, we give back 10% to the female tailors of Mayamiko in the form of scholarships to be used for additional training and education opportunities.
Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world with half of the population living in extreme poverty and an average life expectancy of only 41 years. Education is not compulsory and HIV has had a large negative impact on the economy. Through organizations such as Mayamiko, new sustainable jobs are being created, allowing for more reliable household income and opening the door for children's education.
Our partner in Zanzibar is a non-profit working with over 200 local artisan men and women to create new opportunities for job creation and economic development. These jobs not only preserve culturally important artistic traditions but also prevent artisans from having to cut and sell scarce firewood as a source of income. Honoring both the traditional crafts they practice and their land, they use both solar cookers and energy saving stoves in their production and dying processes.
Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous state consisting of an archipelago situated in the Indian Ocean off the eastern coast of Tanzania. Long romanticized as a center of the spice trade, Zanzibar is home to a rich mix of both Swahili and Islamic traditions. It is an awe-inspiring place with long beaches, rich history and stunning architecture, however, it is still one of the poorest regions in the world with only an estimated 11% of it's rural population having access to electricity.
THE TECHNIQUE: Hand Loom Weaving
To create our beautiful hand woven Kikoi Blankets, the weavers begin with locally sourced, Tanzanian cotton yarn. This cotton yarn is hand dyed in small patches to ensure that colors are as consistent and of as a high a quality as possible. A natural cotton warp is set on the hand loom, which is a large floor based loom that uses that weavers own strength and physicality to create the weave. The colored yarn is then passed through the warp line by line, creating the beautiful designs and abrash that you see in our blankets. Traditionally kikoi was done in a smaller size and worn as a piece of clothing throughout Eastern Africa. We have adapted this and created our blankets in a stunning 6x8 ft size perfect for your home.