One Thread Fair Trade™: The Beauty of Fair Trade
Like with all my very favorite finds, I stumbled upon One Thread Fair Trade™ by “accident”. If you can call meeting someone through Twitter an accident. Still, right now I am thrilled to be sharing the beautiful product and story of Mayura Kona, the creator of One Thread Fair Trade™. Mayura is a designer at heart (she has a BA in Design/Media Arts from UCLA) and a business person by “obligation” (MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management). Her education is what has enabled her to design her gorgeous product while creating a meaningful enterprise that would improve the lives of marginalized, battered and abused women in her grandparents’ hometown of Kadapa in Andhra Pradesh, India.
Design + Fair Trade
As she visited India a few years ago, Mayura was confronted with being witness to the vast abuse endured by many women in this patriarchal society: this is an area where 70% of rural women are victims of battery, rape and extreme poverty. She knew how to take action upon meeting Sandhya, a woman who ran the Vijay Foundation Trust, a non-profit that supports a local orphanage, school, and vocational training programs. For Sandhya, it all started when she found a severely beaten woman left for the dead in a field near her home, she took her in as well as other destitute women and trained them in textile arts. Combining these women’s tailoring skills with Mayura’s eye for design, magic was about to happen. Mayura has spent the last two years developing a fair trade unit to benefit impoverished and abused women in Kadapa.
The Rama throw pillow collection is based on Mayura nature inspired designs. She always begins with a hand-drawn sketch which she feels creates a more authentic design. The final design is traced and vectorized to create the patterns that are screen printed on the hand-loomed silks. Mayura has a clear preference for bold graphic shapes which, with the striking color contrasts and the sheen of the silk make for a breathtaking, modern and luxurious look: “I am dedicated to revamping the image of fair trade, pushing fair trade products past the handicraft level and into design-focused, competitive consumer goods”. All products are made using hand loom silks. Hand loom weaving is tremendously better for the environment as the weaving is done by human hands and does not involve the heavy energy consumption and carbon emissions of a power loom. This practice also supports the rural hand loom weaving villages which are struggling to survive due to the increasing usage of power looms. Hand loom weaving uses nine times more labor than required by a power loom, thus providing many more people with a livelihood and means of survival.
Simply developing a fair wage protocol was an immense feat in an environment where there is no standard for such a thing. For Maruya, the first round of wages that she paid was perhaps the most significant thing she had yet done in her life, to witness the renewed sense of hope and self-worth that she had brought to the community. The fair wages The OTFT artisans earn cover their families living costs and leave 9.5% of the wage leftover to go into savings. The company also funds the education of the artisans’ children which directly affects the future of nearly 120 children.
Every product comes with a hand-signed label which indicates the name of artisan and a little tidbit about what they believe in. It is a beautiful way to keep the “story” forever attached to the article, once all the paper tags have been removed.
What’s Next & Where To Buy
Mayura is already designing new collections featuring her delicious hand-loomed silk patterns in more vivacious colors. Stay tuned for more home accessories and personal accessories. In the meanwhile, the fabulous Rama pillow collection can be purchased online directly through www.OneThreadFairTrade.com and will soon be available through some very cool retailers. We will let you know.
It’s simple: Empower individuals to lift themselves out of poverty and live the life that every member of mankind deserves to live. Together, we can change lives one thread at a time…