Driving out from the city of Varanasi can feel a little like going back in time. With each kilometre you travel, the bustle and sounds of the city fade away to be slowly replaced by the crowing of roosters and the smell of woodsmoke as water is boiled for chai tea and washing. Read more
Although for many city dwellers this might sound idyllic, the fact is village life in India can hold precious few opportunities for a consistent income, and for women even less so. That's why we've partnered with an Indian social enterprises, Rangsutra, with the goal to create livelihoods for local women to support themselves and their families.
The result of our collaboration is the INNEHÅLLSRIK cushion covers, which showcases natural materials, traditional embroidery.
"Women here have so much power, energy and enthusiasm, but don't have the opportunity to use it," says Dr Dipti, from the community-owned craft collective Rangsutra. "Our whole mission here is to enable women to empower their lives and the future of their daughters, by taking the power into their own hands."
It's an unfortunate fact that in rural India many women lack the opportunity to go to school, earn an income, or follow a career. Based in a part of the country where it's tough to find consistent work, Rangsutra employs over 3000 skilled artisans. Of those 3000, 70% of Rangsutra's shareholders are women with weaving and embroidery skills.
“I’m proud we can give a sustainable income to people that need it most,” says Sarah Fager, the designer behind INNEHÅLLSRIK cushion covers. ”And that the money the women earn often goes into children’s education which helps develop the society in a positive way.”
Embroidery is a skill that has deep roots in India. From brightly coloured saris, to richly ornamented wedding dresses, for centuries it's been a way to embrace cultural traditions and create a cloth with character — even at a time when it's increasingly becoming a mechanised process.
"There's so much energy on using machinery to make more things quicker, that I think the idea of a craftsperson has a unique place to make something different," Dipti says. "I like to think of a craftsperson as someone who makes things with her hands, her head and her heart, and I think you see that in what they create."Read less