As I sit down to pen these few lines to you, in this season of celebration and thanksgiving, I find myself definitely confused. I begin to wonder whether there is anything happening in the world that we can celebrate. When, for instance, innocents are being hounded and brutally killed in the name of religion and for politics, or when domestic violence is not limited to the economically poor but cuts across all classes and nations or when inequality in this world has remained a stark reality despite the Millennium Development Goals, and has perhaps reached unprecedented levels – in such a situation, the word ‘celebration’ sounds meaningless. A Christmas celebration is meaningful only when all can partake in the same, in some way or the other. What we are seeing is a crisis of humanism, leading us to wonder whether social life is so broken that the best we can hope for is just survival, at least for the time being.
However, as the Christmas story reminds us, even those who have no place in an inn can bring joy to the world. And so, as we draw near to the close of the year 2015, there are reasons to be grateful for every good thing that those who had no place in our world, our disadvantaged women, have brought to the world, to their families and themselves. For me, and for all of us at Creative Handicrafts, it has been a good year. We made several new initiatives including initiating a program to achieve zero physical domestic violence among our women’s families over the next couple of years and setting up a new shop in Mumbai to sell the products that the women craft. We continued to perform well in the domestic as well as the international Fair Trade that we are engaged in.
The fact is that even a small increase in the sales of the products made by the women contributes towards a significant improvement in their lives, and strengthens the Fair Trade revolution that we all work tirelessly for.
The Fair Trade partners abroad have been a tremendous source of encouragement and support to our efforts of empowering women through Fair Trade. We remain grateful to all of you who have, in one way or another, made a significant contribution to every good thing that has happened in our lives.
As we enter the new year, we look forward to continuing the good work that was initiated some 30 years ago by our late founder, Sr. Isabel, as we strive to reach out to the neediest around us. l take this opportunity to thank each one of you who have been a part of our efforts in small and big ways in making this world a little less unequal place.
Wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very peaceful New Year 2016.
Change, an integral part of growth
Over the years Creative Handicrafts has been revamping its systems or work to ensure better work efficiency, improved income for the women and finer quality. We have now partnered with ‘Rajesh Bheda Consulting’ to work on increasing the quality, efficiency and output in various Self-help groups. The partnership was for a year with three rounds of training of the members of the cooperatives to learn novel ways of dealing with old issues. The on-field tutoring did help the women change old ways for innovation and growth. The workstations were realigned to ensure better teamwork and cleanliness in each group. The hard work put in is slowly yielding results in many ways.
A follow-up inspection from GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards} was carried out on April 20, 2015 to check if Creative Handicrafts has been keeping to its promises in maintaining the high standards required for the storage and production of organic textile. We are happy to say that we passed with flying colors yet again! CH continues to be GOTS certified for garment production and exports.
Our Fair Trade Supporters
We are happy to have with us many of our buyers throughout the year. This year a few who graced us with their presence were Ms. Ruth Valiant, a garment technician for People Tree, UK who made her usual visit for product development in March 2015. Her knowledge of pattern making and sampling helps our pattern maker to constantly upgrade his skills. Ms. Anne Brady from the Product development team at SERRV visited us in April. Some of the feedback we received was that Creative Handicrafts has grown more in sync with the requirements of SERRV. A designer by profession Anne guides us in the development of the samples for the future collections.
Ms. Nieves Ruiz Ramos is a designer who spearheads her own fashion line called BIBICO. She was with us for two weeks in the heat of May. It was heartening to see her manage the weather of May in Mumbai pretty well while Mumbaiwallas were running for cover. Her guidance helped finalize the patterns that will soon go into production at the Self-help groups. It’s a joy to have
her and her energy is truly contagious. We were also very happy to have with us Ms. Andrea Schlehuber from EZA Austria and we are proud to start a new partnership with them.
We were happy to have guests with us from Monoprix in October 2015. Ms. Marie Demoures Emanuelle, the Apparel Buyer, Ms. Marie France Afrain Soudjian, the Garment technician and Ms. Gabrielle Coryese of Antik Batik. They visited us to finalize the annual collection that Creative Handicrafts happily does for Monoprix. The collection this year is from the stylist of “Antik Batik”. They were very happy with the work done by our designers, it was a lovely experience with the three representatives of Monoprix.
Creative Handicrafts now in POWAI
Due to the amazing response from our customers in our Bandra and Andheri outlets, we have launched a new retail outlet in Powai. Our domestic designing team worked hard to come up with a range of new products and designs in accessories and garments of high quality. Please continue to love us and our products. By purchasing a product you are empowering women and changing lives. Ms Ratna Pathak, a Bollywood actress and a person known for her social commitment, graced us at the inauguration of our Powai outlet.
Address of our Powai shop: Shop no 10/11, Ground floor, Heera Panna Shopping Center, Picasso Commercial Complex, Behind Solitaire, Powai Mumbai 400 076.
Project Freedom from violence
Even after 68 years of independence, we still have not broken the chains of violence against women in our families and communities. In 2013. India was polled the worst country in the world for safety of women among G20 nations. Project ‘freedom from violence’ envisages to establish zero tolerance to violence against women and changing the perspective of the society towards women. As a result, a three year project to free the women from violence was launched in April 2015 with the support of Manos Unidas.
A ‘Couples Day Out’ program was held with the beneficiary women and their husbands in April and May 2015. The intention was to try to understand their attitudes towards the violence experienced by women in the domestic environment. The interactions and group discussions also sought to gauge the prevalence of domestic violence in their communities and especially in their families.
After initial perspective building and a baseline study. the project has moved into the first phase of training. introducing the women to gender and sex issues. The baseline study with a sample of the beneficiary women revealed that over 70% of women are facing violence of various forms, mostly from their own family. This manifests the urgency of intervention on the issue of violence and the repercussions if timely intervention is not called for.
Creative Handicrafts at the fashion capital of the world
The Biennial conference oi the World Fair Trade Organization was held in Milan. Italy in May, 2015, with the theme, “Trade for Change”. CH was very proud to be a part of the Fair Trade Week that took place along with the conference. A specially designed collection was very well received by the international customers. Fair Trade Partners as well as the general public showed a lot of appreciation for the kind of garments that CH designed and displayed proudly at the exhibition.
Our staff, Jennie Abraham and Clara Augustine manned the stall and attended the B to B meetings while Director, Johny Joseph, was busy networking. Most designs from the beautiful baby wear and women’s wear were sold out. During the course of the conference, there was also a Fair Trade fashion show.
Technology can increase speed and reduce mistakes !!
Technology has indeed made life easier. The new software for pattern making and the installation of a plotter which plots and cuts patterns has definitely increased the speed and accuracy of patterns for our designs. The intention is to reduce the margin oi error in patterns as well as to avoid manual work as much as possible. Our pattern maker has mastered the skill of using this new software and soon some of our women staff will also become experts in pattern making.
Bienvenido a la India
Confused??!! It means “Welcome To India”.
July and August are months when we are visited by many of our European friends and volunteers. This year too SETEM Madrid, sent their volunteers. It is an opportunity for mutual learning for our staff members and for them. While they had exposure to our way of life, our staff benefited from the sharing of their experiences. They spent a lot of time by helping our warehouse team in packing our products and helping the Asli Food department to prepare delicious food tor everyone They were also a guiding spirit to the marketing department in making new and attractive visiting cards and pamphlets to promote our products. We would like to thank the volunteers for all the efforts taken by them.
Opportunity given to empower lives
Creative handicrafts was invited by the reputed Colleges and Corporate houses like Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Sophia Colleqe, Tata Motors, Tata Consultancy Services, Hindustan Unilever Limited, Larsen and Tubro, Crisal and many more organizations, to exhibit and sell the products prepared by our women. We are overwhelmed by the response received and we thank you for partnering with us.
Summer Fun with the CH family
Thanks to the generosity of Christian and Kathy Guillais, all the women and staff of CH enjoyed a day-long picnic at Shangrila Water Park in April 2015. lt was indeed a very soothing experience giving respite from the extreme heat and humidity of April in Mumbai. The wave pool was the highlight of the event and it was a refreshing and relaxing experience spending time with the staff and women members in happy camaraderie.