We have a strong group of women artisan partners working in our Fair Trade certified Atelier in Panipat, India. Panipat has a rich and long history of weaving and is well known throughout India and the world for the quality, variety, and intricacy of designs. Recently we had the opportunity to visit the atelier, get to know the women artisans who work there, and hear the stories of two of the amazing women who create our collection of recycled cotton throws.
Sudesh has worked for three years with our partner atelier where she helps create our beautiful collection of woven blankets. Before starting work at Atelier Ouest Inde, she had never worked before. The women at the atelier welcomed her–teaching her how to work the loom and create designs from start to finish. Little by little she describes how she fell in love with the work, and especially the collaborative nature of weaving. “I could never do this work alone. It is not a job of a single person. We work together,” she said.
Finding work as an artisan at a Fair Trade atelier greatly impacted the life of her and her family. “When I started here, we lived in a temporary housing structure. We now live in a new home with sturdy walls,” she shares. Additionally, thanks to the programs financed thanks to Fair Trade, her and her family continued to have financial security during the pandemic when her husband was unable to work and was not getting paid. During the pandemic the atelier continued to pay her and provide food aid in months she was unable to work.
Shehnaz works together with Sudesh at Atelier Ouest Inde. Together they weave on the loom, create designs and spend the day side-by-side. “My favorite part of the job is working with all the beautiful colors and designs. These works of art come into people’s homes and decorate them in a very nice way”, she shared. Shehnaz and her family also received financial aid and security through the atelier during the pandemic, helping to keep them financially secure as Covid hit India.
We are so proud of all the skilled women artisans working together at Atelier Ouest Inde. They inspire us daily with their creativity, talent and strength. They work hard every day to continue the ancient tradition of handweaving, push the limits of their craft, and uplift themselves and their families. To watch the video of our visit to Panipat, click here.