How your clothes are made series: Hand embroidery
As part of our 'ethical' tagline - I'm making it my mission to share, loud and proud, the stories of the people who make our beautiful, handmade clothes and homewares at Dilli Grey. I am passionate about being utterly transparent about the artisans we work with - and why wouldn't I be?! They are true craftspeople, honing their amazing skills past down from generation to generation. Much of the skills used to make our hand-block print pyjamas and kantha quilted throws haven't changed for generations - but they need to be used and celebrated to keep them alive.
I want to kick off this series with our visit to a co-operative of women who hand-embroider our bestselling resortwear and dresses.
In a small hamlet a couple of hours drive from Lucknow we were greeted by the village's children who processed us through the streets, proudly showing us their homes, the village holy cow and some wild monkeys amongst the mango groves.
We were en route to a co-operative of women who work together to hand-embroider garments and homewares in the traditional Chikkan style.
Co-operatives just like this spread organically throughout the rural areas of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh as one woman leaves her village to get married, so she takes her skill-set with her and sets up a co-operative of her own. What amazed me were the similarities to mine and these women's working days as busy working mums. They get up, take the kids to school then come into work, breaking at lunchtime to feed their families and then come back in the afternoons until it's time to pick the kids up from school. Their supervisor explained 'they work when it works for them.'
Young girl apprentices from 15, wives, sisters, friends, mothers were all sat in the cool of their workshop, as pre-school kids napped or watched their mums work. I wish I spoke more Hindi as they chatted and gossiped 19 to the dozen. Beyond the language barrier, the feeling of sisterhood was infectious. They spoke openly through an interpreter about how much the work meant to them and how gaining equality with their husbands by providing a dual income for their families made them proud.
Empowering mothers to work, develop their skill-set and find work on their own terms that fits around their family is part of the fabric of my business. I believe it's no longer enough to make gorgeous designs, they need to stand for more than that and the empowered women I met are sewn into each and every one of our dresses. I hope you wear them with pride, in honour of them.
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