Smita Paul discovered the world of handloom while on assignment in India as a freelance journalist. She founded Indigo Handloom to showcase the beautiful fabrics produced by centurie-old weaving practices and help support the weavers who often struggle to make a living wage to provide for their families. Despite a surging Indian economy, weavers, farmers and other members of the rural poor are faced with worsening economic conditions.
Ayacucho, Peru, was hit hard in the 1980's by the Shining Path terrorist group. After the group was suppressed by the government various NGOs went to Ayacucho to help the women who had been raped and abused. Small artisan groups were formed to create products using ancestral embroidery techniques. Ayacucho is now a peaceful place with artisans enjoying steady employment.
In Lao history, young girls often did not have the opportunity to go to school. Instead, their mothers “home-schooled” them in the invaluable art of weaving. A woman’s “marriage value” was often assessed based on the quality of her weaving. The artisan women of today have a modified version of these values, and their hand woven scarves are symbolic of this rich history of weaving.
Refugee women living in Pakistan are mostly widows or have husbands who were handicapped during the Afghan war. Due to social constraints of this region, women are not allowed to come out of their houses. Zardozi brings all the material to their homes and collects the finished embroidered pieces with direct payment. These pieces are then stitched by Afghan women tailors and sent to outlets for sale.
Mar Y Sol works with artisan groups in Madagascar to make their products available in the global marketplace. Mar Y Sol maintains a commitment to using organically tanned leathers and responsibly sourced raw materials. The sale of their products enables families to gain economic independence, preserve traditional craft and promote environmental conservation.
Plagued by a long and violent civil war, Mozambique has seen her country and her people broken to the point of near destruction. Now a free Republic, the people look to their vast forest resources to supply the materials for unique hand crafted goods with designs rooted in their Portuguese past and their modern cultures.
Phyllis Woods, founder of Tribalinks, has been designing jewelry and home accessories since 1975, when she started making silver and brass hammered earrings. Her design inspirations come from her surroundings both in the African desert and as a swimmer, noticing the blues and greens of the waters around her. She has spent much time in Ghana working with the talented craftsmen who make her jewelry.
Patti Carpenter of Rare Resources works with the Cooperative d'Artisanat outside Port au Prince to help support Haitian women working from home, earn fair wages for their craft. Most of the inhabitants of this area live with their impoverished children on less than one US dollar a day. This income helps provides for food and school fees for their children.