In February this year I returned to India to visit the various production units along The Ethical Silk Company’s supply chain. It had been a few years since I had previously been in India (it appears young children can hamper your ability to roam around as freely as your pre baby days) so I was itching to return (read about the whole trip here). Even though most aspects of the business can be run remotely, thanks to the powers of the internet and Skype, there’s nothing like a face to face to have a proper talk with people along the supply chain and to discuss how things can move ahead.
As The Ethical Silk Company has been growing, I needed to source a second tailoring unit to work with and had been in contact with Mehera Shaw, a fairtrade tailoring unit in Jaipur. I was eager to visit and meet Shari, the founder. An added bonus was that I had never been in Rajasthan before and was looking forward to seeing the pink city. The brand, Mehera Shaw began in 1999 with the fairtrade production unit becoming a private limited company in 2007, priding itself on being a transparent, vertical supply chain using fair labour standards.
"We believe that good design can and does go hand-in-hand with beautifully made, hand-crafted textiles, that sustainability, small-scale artisan production and good design are a good fit and the way of the future. We see it as a continuous cycle--on the production end, we believe in the fair trade model of people being able to help themselves and their success coming from themselves. The role of artisans and of everyone in the supply chain is important. Everyone has a voice and a significance. I would also call this slow fashion --meaning, for me, that there is a story behind the production. It is a dialogue across cultures and brings people together through art, craft and understanding." --Shari
Being able to visit this sustainable production unit myself and meet the people working there was essential for our working together to commence. I was delighted to meet Shari, a truly kind and lovely lady and am delighted to say that we’re now producing our new products (stay tuned!!) in this Fairtrade unit as well as working with the Himalayan Tailoring Centre in Dharamsala (you can have a peek our Fairtrade tailored products here).
Mehara Shaw have also founded a non-profit foundation, Mehera Shaw Foundation Trust, whose mission is to support artisan development projects with a philosophy of emancipation through work, self building and dignity. Projects include women artisan micro-enterprise skills training programme making upcycled fashion accessories from post production scrap fabric. I LOVE the idea behind this project and am thinking hard on how The Ethical Silk Company can work with the Foundation, so again, watch this space!
Thanks for reading,