We almost didn’t meet the Finder behind this collection - we were coming towards the end of a hectic two-week trip across diverse parts of India. We had been meeting a lot of other Makers, it was hot and we were starting to tire from the travelling and the hustle and bustle.
We have an Indian friend who helps us whenever we are in town, who insisted we meet Shaina on our last afternoon. So, we rustled up some extra energy and off we went, navigating the two-hour journey through chaotic traffic to get to this Finder’s workplace.
Little did we know how impressed we would be, and since discovering this group of enterprising fairtrading women, we have never looked back.
In our meeting, we discovered that Shaina, the Finder behind this enterprise is a passionate advocate for women’s financial independence and education.
A highly educated woman herself, in her words she “was fortunate to have a very ‘non-indian’ upbringing in her family”. This insight allowed her to see the roles of women differently, to what the norm is in this part of the world. In her eyes, women must have an education, access to financially rewarding employment and work where they feel valued and able to make decisions on their own. So as any strong-willed woman with a purpose would do, she started her own enterprise.
Here, at the Upcycle Collection HQ, she provides skills training to women, who wish to work and earn their own way. For many of the newly formed Makers, their first income allows them to stand tall and feel empowered. They feel they have equal rights when it comes to expressing how their family’s income will be spent. Whether it is to pay for school fees, buy clothing for their children, a new sari for themselves, or a food processor for their kitchen, these women feel they have a voice, because they played a role in bringing the money into the family.
Education is also important within this organisation. The Makers who join this group need to prove their children are attending school. In some cases, school fees are paid for, but the attendance record of the children concerned is checked regularly. There is no fooling the lady at the helm of this organisation, who has worked tirelessly to create better opportunities for women and a different path for their children’s futures.
Shaina also recognises the importance of providing flexibility to women. Responsibilities for children, lack of transport, and adherence to cultural norms means many women must stay home. To tackle this challenge, Shaina has structured her business so the women can choose where they will work from. They can work at home or they can come into the child-friendly workplace with their children. It’s no surprise then, that the great atmosphere produces the wonderful pieces we see today in the Upcycle Collection.
The beautiful accessories these new artisans create are uniquely made. Using second hand fabric remnants, they hand roll the fabric into small balls and colour match the finished pieces to use in assembling a stunning range of unique handmade jewellery.
Their work is brightly coloured, unique, detailed and beautiful, and this is probably why the Upcycle Collection has been one of our best sellers to date.
Until next time
All photos are copyright of Finders and Makers.
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