If you come to a little niche on the steep incline that is called ‘Old Rajpur’ on the road to the well-known hill station Mussoorie, you will find a resting place called “Chhaya Cafe” (Chhaya meaning ‘shade’ in Hindi). It has some wonderful baked goods, a cup of coffee or tea, and many friendly faces. As you walk in a little, you will meet women who are busy with various tasks of sewing, quilting, handcrafting, block printing, and dyeing for a small shop in the front room of the building.
This is Dorcas House: a breathtaking view of the Himalayan foothills surrounds this place and is home to the Himalayan Tapestries and Chhaya Café.
Together, Himalayan Tapestries and Chhaya employ over 20 women. Their vision is to increase the employment opportunities for women in the region. The women are taught various skills such as fine block printing, dyeing, quilting, sewing, hand crafting, baking and food processing.
The women in The Dorcas House are making our beautiful Story Scarves. The printing on this scarf is a story of Ruchita, a college graduate, widowed and remarried at the age of 25. When Ruchita came seeking work at The Dorcas House she was completely broken and disillusioned due to severe abuse (both emotional and Physical) at her home . Through encouragement, love and ongoing development at The Dorcas House, her life has been changed.
Ruchita chose a verse from the book of Isaiah, chapter 40:3 to complete her Story Scarf; by wearing this scarf you have every opportunity to tell her story, and you become a Story Changer too!
Watch the Himalayan Tapestry Video Here:
Sustainable Threads was founded by dynamic husband and wife team, Poonam and Harish. Poonam’s experiences as a social worker working with rural marginalized communities in the arid expanses of Rajasthan and love of handcrafted art combined with Harish’s skills in entrepreneurship and passion for social justice drew them to the fair trade movement. Sustainable Threads has a deep commitment to cultivating long-term fair trade relationships with low-income artisan communities in India, particularly cooperatives employing marginalized women.
Sustainable Threads currently works with over 10 artisan groups in India, with the goal of long term, deep partnerships. Their focus is on the people, not just the product, the artisans they work with are scattered across India and come from a range of caste groups and ages. Each faces diverse challenges and social concerns. Sustainable Threads has a specific emphasis on artisan cooperatives and groups employing marginalized women. They aspire to provide these artisans access to fair wages, larger markets and secure, sustainable livelihoods. When Sustainable Threads began, the main focus was weaving, but they have branched out to develop a unique and growing jewelry range inspired by traditional jewelry forms. Women in the cooperatives receive a fair and steady income, financial and technical assistance and are able to work at a home-based enterprise.
With their work, the women are able to gain new social standing in their families and communities, are able to provide education for their children, and have the opportunity to interact with diverse individuals. Our earrings are made by a Women’s cooperative in a small rural town in Karnataka. The largely home-based work offers flexibility and safe working conditions for the women. In addition, women take up roles which may help them renegotiate their social position in their families and communities.
Story Company is proud to partner with Story Changers, Poonam and Harish!
A shy 17 year old with limited English speaking skills, transformed into a thriving business woman, able to support her family.
Harshali is from Tamil Nadu, a state in the south of India. Her parents died when she was very young, leaving her and her three siblings behind, with only their grandmother to fend for them. Harshali sold fish on the side of the road next to an apartment complex with her grandma and sister until the small stand closed, at around 9 pm. Six years ago Harshali started work at a co-op, and soon after she was able to afford to send both her younger siblings to school, as well as start a college economics course. Now she is a production coordinator with computer literacy skills who oversees all sampling work and assists the co-op's designers. She dresses smartly, in cute matching suits that show her evolving fashion taste, speaks English well, and has the confidence of a young professional woman. Harshali was recently married to a young man, also orphaned, and the co-op members acted as her family, supporting her in full regalia at her wedding. Without having the option to work at the co-op she could very well still be selling fish on the side of the road with her grandma and elder sister. Mata (meaning “Mother” in Hindi) works with Harshali’s co-op, and others like them all over India that seek to educate, employ and empower women.
Story Company is proud to partner with Mata as they work to create opportunities for economic advancement for the women of India.