One of AK Threads' leading partners in hand-spun and hand-woven fabrics is Women’s Weave. They are an organisation dedicated to female empowerment, the alleviation of poverty alleviation, and sustainable production. We are proud to unite with their efforts.
The mission of Women's Weave is to work towards overcoming the vulnerability of females in rural areas and to support them in training and employment; making handloom a life-improving activity as a profitable and dignified work and income for women. Since it began, in 2007, Women's weave has trained more that 160 women in weaving and in spinning.
Based in Maheshwar in central India, Women's Weave offer high quality training to ensure that women are well prepared for future employment opportunities. All employees are trained in the artistry of spinning and weaving to give them production fluency; this usually takes around three months. Afterwards, the women have the option of further training to develop and advance their skills. Around 90% of the female employees at Women's Weave were previously labourers working in the fields, earning only 60 Rupees a day.
The organisation also seeks to provide employment for those who are divorced, widowed or handicapped, typically with no family income. This is very valuable support for highly-disadvantaged women in a visibly patriarchal society.
Women's Weave is committed to fair wages, flexible working hours, regular breaks, and child and health care. We visited their operation in April 2018, to consider new fabrics for our next collection and were impressed and moved by the dedication and passion of all the workers we met there. We proposed to work conscientiously with the organisation, utilising their skills and carefully selecting fabrics for our garments.
Women's Weave follow a holistic approach in their business ethos: transparent supply chains, and locally-sourced cotton, ginning and natural dyeing. Such sustainable methods ensure everything is ecologically-minded and benefits the local workforces.
Based on a friendship and passionate discussions about heritage craft-industries, ethical production methods and positive social impact, Indigenous Industries was formed in 2014 in Ahmedabad in India. That area is a noted hub for its traditional skills and manufacturing. However, often the artisans are inadequately paid, work extensive hours and have to deal with hazardous chemicals. The two friends and founders of Indigenous Industries, Vincent and Aadil, have a vision to provide a sustainable alternative.
We support this vision of Indigenous Industries to promote localised handcraft and shift the focus back to slow-made, traditional and sustainable production processes. At present, the company employs 25 people - dyeing, cutting and stitching - and all are treated with respect, paid above a living wage, and have access to medical insurance and pension schemes.
Vincent, Aadil and their staff have spent years perfecting their dyeing methods and their fabric quality in order to produce consistent and durable colours. Aadil directly trains new employees to ensure high quality production.
Each of our garments is pattern cut, fabric cut, dyed and manufactured under the same roof in Ahmedabad, ensuring ethical standards throughout. Everything connected with our product here, all the production and labelling, involves only natural dyes, organic cotton, natural eco-fibres and handwoven fabrics; the intention is on to maintain little to no environmental impact.
We have worked alongside Indigenous Industries, meticulously ensuring the quality and functionality of our material, and creating custom-made shades of natural dyes for our collection.
The hope of Vincent and Aadil, which we share, it that rural, community-based production methods will survive and prosper in Asia, providing secure employment opportunities to artisans where they already live rather than in industrialised cities that will not improve either their standard of living or their welfare.
Sambhali Trust is a non-profit organisation based in Jodhpur in the north-west of India, who focus on the development and empowerment of underprivileged women in Rajasthan state through education and vocational skills.
Sambhali Trust produce AK Threads' packaging; we have worked directly with the women there to train them in the manufacture of this product.
Every bag produced provides one worker with a full day’s wage. By creating a demand for our garments and, in turn, our reusable packaging, we can directly support the women at Sambhali Trust.
The Trust works with women and children from all communities who have experienced discrimination in their daily lives due to their perceived low status in class, caste and gender. Many of these females are greatly oppressed: with little or no access to education, they often face high levels of verbal and physical abuse within their family circle and community. Sambhali was founded in 2007 to combat this situation and to empower these women.
At centres operated by the Trust, women are trained in English language, embroidery and sewing, thus enabling them to gain an income independently. At the same time, the Trust provides healthcare and counselling, a safe space and a sense of sisterhood, helping the women gain self-confidence and dignity.
This organisation is close to our soul at AK Threads: the founder of AK worked at Sambhali Trust for a year, in 2015, helping to train women in material production and design. The amazing, determined females with whom she worked were the inspiration for the foundation of AK Threads, with the stated intention of continuing to support them and others in similar situations.