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{fashion & mission} Hand & Cloth

January 23, 2015

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Hand & Cloth is one of those rare companies that not only sells beautiful items, but supports a dignified cause. I purchased a gorgeous Kantha for our family for Christmas not only for its stunning color palette, but also the story behind it. I don’t want to raise ignorant children. I want them to know where things come from, to not take meals and a warm home for granted, and to have a heart that asks, how can I help? While that’s a heavy conversation for a 6, 4, and 3 year old, I’m willing to at least start it. The truth is, I’m always amazed at how much they retain and the questions they ask like, “mommy where is this blanket from?” and “who made this?? Both proved to be good conversation starters with my six year old. That said, I’m excited to share an interview I did with a friend of mine, Sarah Aulie, who founded Hand & Cloth. Very simply, they use textiles to employ at risk women.Stitched in each blanket is a name, ours was stitched in the above picture. I don’t know about you, but I love that kind of connection. A textile with a story. So, beyond the beautiful blanket, I see a young girl, a daughter, a wife, or a mother, stitching her Kantha, knowing she is God’s workmanship greatly loved despite her surroundings or social status. And I love that thousands of miles away, my little family can contribute to her cause. Because just like the tiny running kantha stitch that holds the blanket together, you and I are woven by a common thread: partakers of unmerited grace and loved with an everlasting love.

Let’s hand it over to Sarah, founder and Executive Director of Hand & Cloth. . . .
 

What is Hand & Cloth all about?

Sarah: We are a group of creative, textile enthusiasts working together to create a sustainable textile brand dedicated to empowering women through the traditional artisan skills they already possess. As each textile is handmade for Hand & Cloth by a woman, our prayer is that each woman would come to know that she too is handmade by God. We are currently partnering with organizations in Bangladesh, where women artisans produce kantha, a Bengali quilting tradition passed down through generations of Bengali women. Each kantha is layered with antique saris stitched together with a tiny running “kantha” stitch.  Our vision is to partner with ministries and organizations in various regions of the world where women are at high risk of exploitation without access to dignified work. We study the textile traditions in each region to source textiles for the European and American markets. By creating a platform for women to access new markets, Hand& Cloth plays a part in helping to provide dignified work to women at risk.

Tell us about a particular woman’s story and how did H&C play a role in her life?

Sarah:  We first met Pushpa (pseudonyn used) when she was staying at a shelter for girls-at-risk. Pushpa was very bright and had a knack for fashion. We put her in charge of selecting and matching the saris for each kantha blanket.  Pushpa moved to the northwest of India and now runs her own small business where she sells tasty food for tourists.  I recently had a phone chat with Pushpa – she told me that she attributes her good life to Jesus who helps her and takes care of her.

What are some of the challenges you face daily of helping battered women and how do you personally cope?

Sarah:  Hand & Cloth partners with organizations and ministries that work directly with women at risk and women in poverty. Our partners are the amazing people who work daily with the women who make textiles for Hand & Cloth. Each artisan making textiles for Hand & Cloth has survived trauma or has experienced extreme poverty. We believe that the process of creating beautiful, handmade textiles for Hand & Cloth can be a therapeutic process for a woman.  Working with other women offers community and support that she may not have had before. Earning an income offers her a way to provide for herself and her children in a dignified way. All of these are healing means for a woman who has experienced trauma or poverty. We partner with organizations that share our faith-based vision so that women who make products for Hand & Cloth not only have access to dignified work, but also have the opportunity to hear that God loves them and that they are “fearfully and wonderfully made” by Him (Psalm 139:14).

With many organizations and not for profits doing similar work helping at risk women, how is Hand & Cloth different?

Sarah: Hand & Cloth is working to create a design-focused textile brand combining both form and function that offers dignified work to women at risk and women in poverty. We want Hand & Cloth to become a “go to” brand whenever people need to purchase a practical throw for their home or a meaningful, one of a kind gift. Likewise, the next time the industrious mom decides to take on a new DIY reupholstery project, we hope she chooses a Hand & Cloth textile! Each Hand & Cloth purchase provides dignified work to women at risk.

Thank you Sarah for sharing this great work!

You can learn more about Hand & Cloth HERE


 

 

This is her “queen” face


Shot on location at Alys Beach

 

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  • Brilliant interview, Shalice. That kantha is gorgeous. I'll definitely be supporting them, this is a mission and a product I can get behind. xoxo

  • Thanks Angela, I love to highlight companies like this. xx

  • Where are those adorable boot/clogs from??

  • Melissa- they're Dolce Vita from Anthropologie 😉

  • Awesome – thanks! 🙂

  • Ps. I added a link to the booties for reference xx