Since its inception in 1984, Creative Handicrafts has evolved into a Fair Trade organization with a view to changing the world, one woman at a time.
Here’s a quick timeline of how the organization got to where it is today.
Sister Isabel Martin begins working with 2 women in a Mumbai slum sewing soft toys. With assistance from Jeevan Nirvaha Niketan she goes on to establish the Women’s Self Employment Cooperative (WSEC) with another 7 women.
A permanent workplace
A church donates a room in the slums to WSEC, providing a permanent place to work. Until then they shuffled between temporary premises at churches and schools with their sewing machines. The membership grew to 30.
Women first organized into cooperative groups.
Creative Handicrafts is officially registered as a Non-profit Trust with around 4 members.
Using Sister Isabel's contacts in Europe, Creative Handicrafts exports products to Spain and France for the first time.
Childcare center opened to accommodate the children of women working with the Cooperative.
Natalia Campo (a Spanish volunteer) started the Education Sponsorship scheme to improve educational outcomes for children in the community.
A sharper business focus
Johny Joseph joins the team to manage the business. This marked the beginning of a sharper focus on business outcomes. Turnover quickly increases. There were around 60 women in the Cooperative at the time.
Asli Food launches
Asli Food packed lunch service is established - an initiative to provide employment opportunities for women who aren’t able to sew.
Credit and Savings groups begin
Credit and Savings groups created to help the women to create a habit of saving and to stay out of debt.
Changing business focus
The organization begins changing focus from making soft toys toward manufacturing garments. Pedal sewing machines are replaced with electric ones, increasing productivity and quality.
Retail shop opens in Mumbai
Creative Handicrafts' first retail shop opens in Mumbai. The first apparel designer is hired. 90 women are working in the Cooperative.
Joining the Fair Trade movement
Registered with Fair Trade Network (WFTO and FTFI) - an acknowledgment of Creative Handicrafts social purpose.
Turning a profit
Passed the break-even point and became a self-sustaining, profitable business.
New 3-story, purpose-built premises opened. 250 women now members of the Creative Handicrafts Cooperative.
Fair Trade Guaranteed
Passed an external audit to achieve Fair Trade Guaranteed status from the WFTO. This independently verifies that Creative Handicrafts' products are manufactured in Fair Trade conditions.
Certified for organic garment production
Awarded GOTS organic apparel manufacturing certification.
Creative Handicrafts is generating employment for more than 700 women - in both full and part-time work.