Apr

29

Who makes EllieFunDay’s Baby Blankets?

Back posting from India! Monday, Feb 10th

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Today I got to meet the ladies that make our blankets. As we sat around in a circle on mats, they told me how hard it was to start making these baby blankets because this was an entirely new project. At many times they were almost ready to give up on the baby blankets, but they persisted. One lady finally shared with us how working at Flowering Desert has given her dignity in society and that she is proud of the work that she gets to do. My heart swelled and I started to feel my eyes well up with tears. After 6 months of R&D and production; our Stitched Wonder blankets has been worth the stress, the sleepless nights and the emotional roller coaster.

I got to sit with them during tea time and shared some goodies we brought. As I observe the bare bones sewing unit I knew that these blankets that they produced are a miracle in itself. These women are not factory workers that have been trained to produce at a high rate. They sit in clusters on the floor hand-stitching each blanket with care and they mingle amongst each other. One might help another out if there is a problem, another might tease her neighbor if she’s made a mistake. I get such a sense of sisterhood and warmth. This is true empowerment at it’s best. Slow fashion is NOT mass produced, it is made with intention and integrity while preserving the maker. This is what handcrafted for life means.

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Feb

07

Hyderabad : MyChoices, empowering peacemakers

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Empowerment means taking risks, giving up comfort and stepping out in boldness to do something that matters.

Over the past few months I’ve gotten to know Elca Grobling, the founder of MyChoices a former Aussie finance manager who decided to move her entire family of 5 to Hyderabad, Andra Pradesh to make a difference for women that have suffered from domestic violence. Elca’s passion for this cause is inherent in her zeal as she shares about the issues here in India that women face.

In Andra Pradesh alone 30% of the violence enacted is against a woman. Most domestic violence cases are attributed to alcohol, especially in poorer families. Dowry, lack of education and child marriages also contribute to this. Her vision has been to train local women with counseling skills to go back into their own communities to be the “peacemakers”. The hope is that these peacemakers can be safe points of contact for abused women so that they have an outlet to share the issues that they are facing. The peacemakers also provide access to onsite professional counselors at MyChoices.

MyChoices also started a sewing unit recently in efforts to support the cause and provide good work to women within the communities they’re reaching. We’re excited about the development and may consider partnering with them in the coming year to produce new products.

In light of this, we conducted a basic skills assessment in order to assess the readiness of the sewing unit. Calvina helped us conduct a simple eye-exam (while trying the encourage the women NOT to help each other was another battle.) We also gave the women some test samples to produce. Our hope is that we can see improvement over time and that they would be in position to produce export-ready product in the near future. I’m excited again to see the possibilities!

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Jan

31

India, here we go again!

Bangalore

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c.1880's PHOTO INDIA CHAR MINAH HYDRABAD JOHNSTON Nizam's procession in Old Hyderabad

I need to be honest with you, it’s been a year since I’ve been back to India and I return this time with mixed feelings. The last time we left with utter sadness because the sewing development we hoped to start was not ready to take their business to the export quality that we needed for our market. We are still happy to hear that they are doing local projects for the school and are trying to be self-sustaining.

I needed a break to retool, meditate and pray to see what our next steps would be. We’ve come a long way since then. We’ve launched our line of Stitched Wonder Blankets, we are in 6 stores (and counting!) and we will be doing our first tradeshow in NYC in March. It’s all happening so incredibly fast and I can’t wait to see where this year will take us.

This Tuesday we will be back in India doing more development work with our new sewing unit in Dharmapuri. Flowering Desert works with marginalized women that have suffered some form of mistreatment from society and need a safe place to heal. They are the craftsman that have made the Stitched Wonder blankets. This series took us 6 months to R&D and get to the final product that you see now in our shops. There were many iterations of designs and quality checks, from the embroidery colors, to the tags, to the bags that our blankets come with. Each component is carefully scrutinized for the best quality. My standard is if I don’t love it, nothing goes out. Your purchase empowers these women with a way out of poverty!

We will also be heading to Hyderabad to vett and develop another potential sewing center. They work with empowering women counselors to go back into the slums and give women support who have suffered from domestic violence. I’m excited to see what new and potential goods we can make with these ladies. What new goods would you like to see in the EllieFunDay shop?

 

 

 

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