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SHE Foundation

Location
Main Contact
Shamlu Dudeja
Tel: +91 (033) 24799002
Website
http://www.sheindia.org

Key products/services

Empower rural women, revive Kantha.


Profile

Creativity uplifts handcraft to the level of artistry, as is evident in Bengal’s intangible cultural heritage, the simple running stitch: Kanthaarkaaj.

SHE Foundation is devoted to elevating Kanthaarkaaj, to the level of stitch-artistry and empowering Kantha artisans.

In the network of 250/300 members, the five SHE Team Leaders (each assisted by 3 assistants) are senior Kantha stylists with proven training acumen. They recruit and guide new women, and exercise quality control. They commute between villages and SHE Studio, Kolkata, carrying fabrics and designs to artisans and bringing back embellished textiles to the Studio.

Kantha has had a positive ethical impact on artisans and environment for centuries. SHE’s efforts will be to follow in the same guidelines, and ensure that the positive trend continues:

“Sustainability will be ensured by my prodigy for Kantha is my daughter, Malika Varma, who has grown up with natural products, reuse and recycle, and helps me in keeping Kantha alive. She has sustained Kantha during my breast cancer surgery soon after I had started along the revival path in 1986.

Now, my 18-year old grand-daughter, Saumya, who studies in the USA, also aims to follow in our footsteps. She has already started marketing scarves in Haverford College.”


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Ethical Focus & Policy

Kantha defines the concept of preserving the heritage craft by conserving, re-using, recycling and reinventing everything that could be given a new lease of life to realise its maximum potential. Natural textiles and threads are used.

SHE brings income-generation opportunities to talented artisans at their doorsteps, so that they can tend to family chores while they stitch, flexi-time. Kantha stitchery in chat-groups in the neighbourhood is salubrious for everyone’s health, and helps dismantle barriers of religion, caste or creed. No time or money is wasted in commuting to an outside place of work.

Treading a thin line between the traditional and new age, SHE adheres to the former in preservation of this heritage craft, while using modern styles to attract the young, for sustainability through its popularity.

Hundreds of Kantha artisans thrive in a creative ecology being woven ingeniously by a collaborative vision to empower, preserve, and educate in harmony. Kantha stitchery is done in natural rural environments, and natural fabrics and threads are used. None of the activities are harmful to environment, in any manner.

Impact

SHE works with women from low-income backgrounds, who sweep and swab, cook and clean and often fetch water from nearby ponds. Most of them are not educated and have no other acquired skills.

During 2-3 hour leisure periods in afternoons, they sit together in groups and chat, in natural daylight and embellish fashion garments. In the same manner as their mothers and grand-mothers did. This generates a small income for them.

This creates a sense of self worth and pride amongst them. They can stand up to their men, and do not look for anti-social activities for income generation.


Pricing information

Pouch -$10

Stoles – $85 to $250

Jacket and Tunics -$125 to $275

Wall hangings to the size of double bed spread is $2000


Products and services

SHE aims towards a sustainable international market for all ages in a collection of apparel (saris, stoles, wraps, jackets, tunics, pouches) and articles for home furnishings (throws, bedcovers, table-covers, cushion covers, wall-hangings as Stitch-Art).

Can create similar pieces, but as this is hand crafted no two pieces can be exact copy of each other.


Typical Product lead times

A scarf, size 50 cms x 200 cms, will take around 2 months. A bigger piece like throw or bedcover with more complex embroidery takes around 6 months to a year to complete.

Closest shipping ports

Uses FedEx courier service.