One of the things I love about crafts is their intrinsic power to bring people together and through that togetherness transform people’s lives. I came across two such examples over the summer which, each in their own way, are transforming the lives of the women involved.
The inspirational Greenbelt ~ arts, culture and faith ~ festival held every August attracts over 10,000 people. As well as the ‘make and take’ tent which the girls, with a little assistance from Daddy created a wonderful sock monster, I discovered, nestled in the corner of one particularly muddy field, a tent selling the creations of women who’re practising their art to the highest standard.
Squelching thorough the Mamachatent was a delight, not only were the colours good enough to eat, the alpaca wool was the softest to touch. The snuggliest of cabled hand knitted scarves, carefully patterned hats, stunning cardigans and jumpers and, of course, the cutest of children’s ware.
Amy’s story is an interesting one – having worked for a gap year inTrujillo, northern Peru she was inspired to create a market for the stunning handknitted items made by the talented women in the community she was staying. The prices they pay for the women’s work is fair – determined by the women themselves and this income helps them generate an income to support their families through their creative and fulfilling work.
At Exeter’s annual Green Fair – I came across Global Indigo, producing a wider range of more ‘everyday’, but no less beautiful and thoughtfully created objects. From earrings made from recycled cola tins to the fantastic red crocheted elephant made from recycled clothes bought at the local market in, carefully taken apart and given a new lease of life. The two social entrepreneurs behind the project are Ella and Angela who together have set up a small Devon based business – not a charity – to ensure their suppliers from Nicaragua Ecuador, Kenya, Afghanistan,Nepal &Vietnam get paid a fair price for their goods. They have visited the women’s projects they buy from to ensure the money goes where its intended but also to develop their relationships. Relationships that are so missing in our global market (I’ll stop at that point before I get too political on you!). The producers’ stories on their website are fascinating. They also happened to sell fairly traded Peruvian dark chocolate – which I did have to experience – I bought two bars, all in the name of research you understand!
Any of the goods from either of these boutiques would make an excellent birthday, and yes, Christmas (its only 43 days to go!) gift and be appreciated not only for their beauty, skill and functionality but also because of the story behind them.
But its not only the suppliers that have had their lives changed. Its clear the founders have been seeking lasting and empowering solutions to work with those with less opportunity. I am impressed by the courage of these social entrepreneurs’ convictions which has driven them to turn their visions into reality. Of course this conviction can’t be underestimated in the current economic climate requiring an investment of time, money and energy into these businesses. The relationships demand an ongoing commitment, willingness to make mistakes, to learn. To make a profit for good and a transformational long term change.