I can’t express how grateful I am to have had the chance to work with Anchal this past few weeks in India. Devon and Colleen, the directors of the organization, have been more than generous with giving me such a unique opportunity.
Why did I gravitate toward this social enterprise? Because it focuses on:
1. Female empowerment. Many of these women are presented with an enormous amount of obstacles to finding health and happiness. They are poor, enter a trade at a young age, are married at a young age, and have children at a young age. Many of them spoke about how proud they were to be earning as much as their husbands through Anchal, not to be sitting at home while the kids are at school. To make use of their brains and hands. This is an inevitable revolution of half of the world’s population, check out girleffect.org if you haven’t already.
2. Conscious consumerism. Anchal’s products are made from 100% recycled saris, and bought from sari vendors from poor areas. They are produced by disadvantaged women, who for the first time in their lives, gain economic independence and freedom from the systems that exploit them. Through the product, the consumer is connected with the maker and her story, which raises awareness about the broader social issues (sex trade, poverty, gender equality etc.). In other words, the stories and broader social issues are woven into the product. I can’t think of a more literal example than Anchal’s narrative pillowcases, in which the artisans take images from their life and stitch them into the fabric.
3. Well-designed cross-cultural products. Often handicrafts from different countries are designed with more consideration of the culture they come from than of the culture they hope to sell to. A product that aims to be successfully cross-cultural must consider the tastes and strengths of both. This is the essence of good design (i.e., understanding your customer). In the case of Anchal, the quilts convey the tradition of kantha and India but still do an excellent job of catering to the Western palette.
These are the core aspects of Anchal that have most attracted me, as they resonate most with my core values: equality, connection, beauty.
What organization inspires you and why? Which of your values does it most align with?
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