Meet Our Artisans


Meet Bilquis, a maker of our Anfa Envelope Clutches 

"Coming to the center to embroider every day relieves stress for me. I feel lighter after meeting and talking to the other women."

Bilquis considers herself a single mother for her three children. Her husband is mentally incapacitated and unable to provide an income for the household. The income she earns through Popinjay supports her family of five in addition to paying for her husband’s medical bills.
Bilquis was among the first 20 women that were part of Popinjay’s pilot in Hafizabad. She embroiders our Anfa Envelope Clutch, which also happens to be her favorite Popinjay piece in the La Mezquita collection.
Bilquis herself never went to school and cannot read and write. Despite being dealt a harsh hand by fate in the form of her ill husband, she is working hard to educate her own children. Her 12 year old daughter Amna is in 6th grade. At times, she feels envious of women whose husbands are a form of financial and emotional support for them. She often confides in her sister Nighat, who is also her best friend. Her happiest moments are those spent playing with her children - she smiles as she talks about how her son twists her arm affectionately, or tells her funny stories about his friends at school. Sometimes he asks her to give him lunch money - a mere 30 cents for a bowl of rice and chickpeas at school - but she cannot afford it. Her happiest memories are those she spent playing with her three sisters and her mother.
Bilquis dreams of traveling to Mecca to perform the pilgrimage one day. She saves part of her Popinjay income for this, while spending the rest on her children's education and household needs. 
[All photos and stories from www.popinjay.co]

Meet Dorothy, a maker of our Kigugu bracelets 

Dorothy is the anchor in her family. She’s also the local midwife (primarily a volunteer job), and she is a believer in sustainable living. Dorothy has eight children and five grand children. She takes care of all of her grand children on her own. With her money from Nakate, she’s working to build a quarter for her grandson’s to live in behind her home. She’s also been able to send all of her grand children to school. She loves beading because it allows her to work from home, and still be with her grand children. Dorothy loves working with yellow and brown, and matching the necklaces she makes to the outfits she is wearing.

Her long term plan is to buy a big plot of land where she can cultivate crops such as casava, maize and potatoes so that she and her grand children can live off of her land together.

[Artisan photos and story from www.nakateproject.com]


Meet Ferdoz, the maker of our Hexagonal and Mango Wood Bangles

"Before we used to just sleep, eat, read the Koran, and wait for a husband. Now, we are business women and we are becoming famous around the world and it feels great."

It makes me happy to think that what I make goes to beautiful women around the world to wear. It feels like I have done something with my life and not wasted it. I have found a purpose. By what we have made with our hands we are now eating and drinking and there is a future for our kids. If people do not buy what we make, we would have no future.
I was married at age 14. My husband and I were constantly fighting. After having 5 girls and no boys (this is a cultural shame), my husband left me. For 6 months I cried and prayed. My girls had to pull out of school because there was no money. I had no work and didn’t know how to read or write. It is impossible for a woman to go out alone, so we just stayed inside to be safe. It got so bad that I finally had to go out so I could find work. I searched everywhere. My eldest daughter is educated and one of her friends started working at the design studio down the street. She took my daughter along one day and they hired her. Soon after someone from the design studio came to visit me and asked if I would also like to start working. They told us to go to Delhi to source materials, but we were afraid to go out of our home. They went with us at first, but now we have the courage and strength to go alone.
Work is going well now and we have many orders. We are all happy and eating now, and finding respect in our community. People who doubted us, are now coming to us for work. We now have 12 women that we have trained on our own to help us with our work load. We are thankful for the direction our lives have taken, and we want to share that with other women.

[All photos and story from www.ravenandlily.com]

Meet Geeta, the maker of our Sun & Sky Necklace

Geeta works with Toucan Krafte, an artisan group in New Delhi. The oldest of 7 children, she left school early to help support her family. She found the fair trade group a year ago without knowing anything about jewelry. She went through their training program, and soon she learned how to bead jewelry and crafts. Geeta now helps to teach other women in her community. The fair wage she earns has enabled her to help support her family, and to continue sending her younger siblings to school.

 

[Photos and story from WorldFinds]

 

Meet Ingenzi Knit Union, the makers of our Indego Africa Scarves

"Indego Africa has enabled me to envision a new life for myself and a different economic future than I ever thought possible." – Marie Rose, 45  

The Ingenzi Knit Union is comprised of 127 members drawn from four primary knitting co-ops: Hope, Hosiana, Mpore Mama, and Susuruka, located in Kigali and Mayange. The Ingenzi Knit Union (IKU), which was founded with the assistance of long-time NGO partner Rwanda Knits, is the first and only cooperative union of its kind in Rwanda. Coupled with knitwear orders for the local market, IKU is a business on its way up!

[All photos and story from www.indegoafrica.org] 

Meet Srey, a maker of our Cambodian upcycled bags & wallets 

Srey worked in a sweatshop in Cambodia until 2002 when, on the way to attend a ceremony at a temple, she tragically stepped on a landmine. The explosion left her badly injured and she lost one of her legs. She also lost her job and her hope after the accident, but with the support of friends and family she found the strength to continue. In 2004, she learned how to sew bags and wallets for a local NGO. In 2005 she started teaching children, at a healthcare center, how to sew, and in 2009, she was employed training amputees to sew bags and wallets. Finally, she found Craftworks Cambodia and was able to start her own small business producing eco-friendly silk bags, wallets and other items. She works with disabled artisans, those afflicted by polio, and mine victims such as herself. Working with Craftworks Cambodia provides these artisans with a steady fair income, hope for the future and a good life for their families.

[All photos and story from Craftworks Cambodia]