Feb

11

Divine Coincidences Happen in the Strangest of Places

One tough part of this week in Kolkata was that ALL of us were sick. Cold, coughs, clogged sinuses. It was a symphony of sniffles. We needed to find some local meds because ours weren’t the doing the job. Sarah and Cal were sucking down Halls and Ricolas and it just wasn’t settling the coughing fits. We ended up finding this local-brand industrial strength lozenge and it was the only solution to the dingy, soupy Kolkata air. We asked a local doctor about it and he said, “When in Rome.”

One divine coincidence this week was meeting a woman named Janet Rogers. This past year we had more than a few people mention to us that we needed to meet her. This past September, I randomly met a British guy in San Francisco who after hearing about what we’re doing, emphatically said we needed to meet Janet and immediately returned home to make an email introduction. 

We exchanged a few emails, but couldn’t find a good time to connect. Then out of the blue, she emails us and tells us she will be at Freeset the same time that we are! Amazing! She is an artist/designer who built up an amazing network training women in India how to produce crafts for the international market. She is doing some consulting for Freeset and was more than happy to sit down with us for an afternoon. She downloaded to us loads of wisdom and I know we already avoided a few pitfalls just by talking with her. 

Lastly before we left we spent a bit of time with Kerry Hilton, the founder of Freeset. Every time we talk with him we’re so inspired by his selfless commitment to the business of freedom. Recently they decided to go to the source of sex-trafficking about 5 hours north of Kolkata to start a weaving unit that will employ the women most susceptible to human-trafficking. This makes total sense, though the 5 hour motorcycle ride Kerry takes makes me cringe with all the bad roads and insane drivers.

Sarah and I asked him what keeps him going. He said he never gets tired of seeing freedom… women tasting what it means to go as they please, spend the money they earn and chart their own course for their lives. It energizes him to no end. Kerry, his family and his staff all live in the slum that they serve. They eat, laugh and cry with the people they love. There are few examples of really sacrificial love in our world and they are one of the shining examples. 

Until next time Kolkata… off to Trivandrum.
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Aug

23

Ellie Fun Day Summer Shindig Recap : Part 1

Everyone was greeted at basecamp with a slideshow of our India trips. 

Friends had an opportunity to send free mail on us at our EFD Post Office. 

Make your own japadogs!

Do S’more so graciously treated us to their goodies!

Everyone had a chance to vote for their favorite upcoming Ellie Fun Day blankie.

The minis had a chance to make some watercolor bubble art.

 

Big and little kids had the chance to take photos in our teepee. Check out more photos here! 

RECAP {Through the eyes of our intern Karissa, aka Special K}

Everything was set, pristine, and calm as the teepee sat quietly in the courtyard as we awaited to welcome the guests to celebrate Ellie Fun Day’s journey and future endeavors at our Summer Shindig.

And then the children came. It felt as if they all got the batman signal to begin and had run over all at once. Soon there were children with feathers on their heads, aviators on, and bubbles flying all over the place. But no one could deny the japadogs. A sign illustrated how to turn an all american classic into a ‘japadog’ by decorating it with wasabi or sriracha mayonaise, bonito, kimchi and seaweed.

Pure craziness. But underneath the contradicting hotdogs and yummy s’mores was the underlying fact that this was basecamp. Just as the ghost busters got together before attacking the marshmallow man, and the power rangers gathered with that face thing, we rallied our friends in celebration before our next grand venture. The shindig signified a moment in time to recognize our most faithful supporters as friends and co-conspirators. It allowed us to pause and prepare ourselves before we moved out to make a difference.

As I looked around the room I realized, “This is our support system. These are the people that have made this dream a reality.” I was honored to be a part of this dream – to have impact on the world, even if that meant just voting for my favorite blankie, or sending an “I <3 my blankie,” postcard to a friend. The beauty of this shindig was that it recognized the current support system while welcoming new supporters and feedback from others. We invited the shindig go-ers to take the pinky promise, to leave the shindig ready to blanket their world with love.

Will you take the PINKY PROMISE with us? If so, let us know and we will send you a special badge to be part of this movement! 

***** Stay tuned for PART 2 : Ellie Fun Day Dry Goods Shoppe *****

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Jul

06

The Possibilities Continue : Sewing Center Development

It’s been surreal to see the possibilities here in India. The past several days have been filled with meetings and planning to see what we need to get all the right things to make it happen. The largest key factors are the people. We are continually interviewing and waiting for the right trainer, manager to make sure that they have the same vision as our mission. We met with a man that was from the Dalit untouchable community that apparently is skilled in export manufacturing. Our true test of his skills? We had him reproduce the Sharkie blankie from scratch.

We were impressed to say the least. He had no pattern, just our Sharkie blanket. The other indication that he has an eye. The fabric that I gave him was cut in a different direction just to save fabric and he was able to tell. Only a trained eye would know that.

One more indication of the possibility of this happening occurred as I was standing on the road leading up to the entrance to the sewing center. I saw an amazing black, red and yellow swallowtail butterfly . Then I proceeded to see at least 15 or more yellow butterflies fluttering all throughout the road. Then it struck me…this is the beginning of my own personal rebirth.

A couple of weeks back for my final project in my fashion design class, I chose the theme “Chrysalitic Emergence” for my collection. I designed a series of evening dresses that were based on the concept of a caterpillar’s transformation. This was a very personal collection as I feel in this time and place in my life, I’m being transformed into something new and beautiful. But in order for that to happen I needed to purge the ugliness, the self-doubt and insecurities of my past for this to happen.

I am continually amazed by the pieces that are coming together at just the right time for this project. The next two days we are off to meet with Blossom, a women’s undergarment manufacturer and Kara Weaves, a hand loom women’s cooperative.

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