BLOG COLLAB: Tika Greenlaw & Indigo of The Paper Rain Project
There is a story to everything. Let us introduce you to the makers and heart behind the crafted leatherware in our Accessories section.
Sitting, thinking of our next coffee, we are half a planet away from the bustling world of Bowbazar, Kolkata in India. The Bowbazar area is 5 minutes walk away from the second largest red light district in Kolkata, where an estimated 1500 – 2000 women are still trapped in the sex trade. It is here, where The Loyal Workshop began.
The Loyal Workshop (TLW) is an inspiration to us. We first discovered this fascinating, inspiring company through luck, online, before they had even started trading. We just knew we had to forge a relationship. Months later, we became on the first official stockists of The Loyal Workshop’s artisan leather craft in New Zealand. You may have seen this beautiful leatherwear often as satchels slung across our shoulders or tucked under our knees or wallets snug in back pockets & wristbands we never take off. We've displayed TLW at our markets, exhibitions and most recently, as a permanent fixture at our Picton Summer HQ. Maybe you're lucky enough to have some already.
You should really check out their website to hear their story. We were totally inspired when a year ago, Kay Tiddy, of The Loyal Workshop came to stay with us. Her presence, kindness, wonderful smile, talk of India (wonderful blog) and firsthand experience with the work of Freeset and The Loyal Workshop, had us awe. We emigrated from Scotland to New Zealand, New Zealand to India is another “journey” entirely, humbling and inspirational.
In September 2010 kiwis, Sarah and Paul Beisley, the founders of The Loyal Workshop, spent a year learning Bangla, the local language, one of many steps they have taken on their four year journey to offer alternative employment to the women sold, stolen, trafficked and forced against their will into the sex trade.
Our first Bangla word we hope to hold onto is Mukti – freedom. Mukti is what The Loyal Workshop and their team represent, a chance of new beginnings, hope and connection. At the Loyal Workshop women are trained in artisan leatherwork, paid a fair wage and provided with medical and emotional support.
The Loyal Workshop believe that business can be a tool to bring freedom to those trapped in slavery. “Our business is about freedom. Every product we create is part of a woman’s freedom journey,” Sarah Beisly.
In May 2014 they started with five employees, women seeking Mukti, and in December 2014 a second intake of women joined their team. It has been a thrill for us to see new names on their awesome website, our portal into their world.
Shobha, Anima, Kolpona, Juli, Kieran and Balika have joined the first five women, Jona, Kakali, Mithu, Raima, and Roma. Meet these beautiful artisans here, and if you should choose like us to buy a satchels (which we absolutely love – thank you, Kakali, Jona and Mithu) the name of the woman who made it will be etched on the inside pocket in English with her signature in Bangla underneath.
Advocate Bracelets are currently available via our Kickstarter Campaign.
You can make a difference.
“Be the change you want to see,” Mahatma Gandhi.
So from Marlborough to Kolkata - half a planet away -there is a strong connection which is hugely supported by what you wear & where you put your money.
Thank you for listening.
Tika (pack & dispatch) & Indigo Greenlaw (co-founder) aka Loyal Supporters.
- BUY FAIR TRADE
Whenever possible, ensure that the products you purchase are not encouraging the injustice of slavery to thrive. Buy locally when possible, purchase second hand goods. Understand your own slavery footprint by finding out how many slaves work for you. http://slaveryfootprint.org/
- Become a Loyal Advocate
- LEARN ABOUT SLAVERY
Today there are an estimated 27 million people trapped in modern-day slavery. Read more about slavery and human trafficking in Kolkata here.