There are two things that make up Spindle by Sisters; you our supporters and the people we work with. Today I wanted to give you a brief introduction about all the communities we work with and their special powers and will later dedicate posts to each community and their skill so we can delve deeper into the nitty-gritty.
With roots that lie in Africa and South Asia we have first-hand witnessed the struggle crafts(wo)men encounter to survive and wanted to do something about it. For this reason, we launched Spindle by Sisters in June 2020 to create a platform for those who are unable to go beyond the walls of their towns and villages.
A couple of years in the making but we can proudly say that each and every piece we have at Spindle by Sisters has been made keeping the makers wellbeing in mind incl. and most importantly their wages and all decisions we make are kind to our planet and for us.
We have a lot of growing to do, we all have room for improvement so expect our sustainability and ethical policies to get better and better with time. *fingers crossed* We can’t wait to take you on this journey with us.
West Bengal, India
The women community we work with here is our first. We searched high and low to find a community that doesn't exploit the kantha artists and pays them fairly for all that they do. The women here live in extreme poverty and some of them are widows with no family support. Kantha helps to bring in a reasonable income for them. I say reasonable because there is a lot of politics which we'll go into in a dedicated post and a lot of them can’t commit to this full time. But by paying them a fair wage we are supporting them to continue living life to an acceptable standard (we all deserve that). We hope one day we can employ them and help alleviate them from poverty.
These wonderful ladies, holding up Ananya, our rainbow throw here, are experts in kantha. Kantha refers to the piecing of old fabrics together and can also refer to the straight stitch that they use. Most commonly 2-5 are layers are used to create throws, slings, blankets, and mattresses. This is a skill that is passed on from mother to daughter.
We have worked with them to create a timeless collections that are inspired by nature and will never go out of style. The Kantha cushions are my all-time fave! Freehand stitched and dyed using marigold petals, indigo and madder root. What’s not to love? Oh and the wonderful kantha Chaadars we introduced over summer, the most versatile pieces we have, an absolute must have and just so beautiful!
Buldan and Babadağ, Turkey
This community really excites me! To think that their forefathers once wove for the Sultans of the Ottomon Empire just blows my mind! The level of detail and precision that these weavers have is nothing that we have seen before, okay especially not in any of our department stores here in UK. We work with an established company that has been working directly with weavers for generations. We chose to use this method instead of going directly to the community so we can ensure that above living wages are being paid and that each throw undergoes the process of being checked for harmful chemicals. Something we can’t do from over here in the UK.
We are yet to visit the weavers (Covid launched business) so have no pictures of them at work BUT here is one of their semi-automatic looms sent to us by our partner. Most of the weavers use traditional handlooms whilst others use semi-automatic. How amazing is this?
What’s great is we have certifications and signed letters of their wages and OEKO-TEK® certificates which gives us the peace of mind that we are not making false claims and providing you with homeware that has been created with the utmost care. We really hope to be able to visit them very soon and will update you with pictures and more about the process.
With this community we have chosen to work with timeless Anatolian design as they really are true examples of products that pass the test of time. If they’ve lasted for 100s of years already without looking dated why not another 100 right?
As you know, At Spindle by Sisters we are about creating long-lasting pieces that kind to you and the planet BUT If you do choose to depart with your SPINDLE, we are content knowing that it will go back to the Earth 100% and you should be too!
Atlas Mountains, Morroco
We’re so glad they have started to introduce and enforce fair wages in Morocco. It’s SO SO important to carry out thorough research especially when it comes to Morocco as this country is known to swindle the makers. Just a tip for you if you choose to buy rugs and floor cushions from middlemen on Instagram. If it’s too good to be true it is!
We had an experience earlier this year where we wanted to introduce floor cushions to our collection. Not sure if you remember, we did some stories asking which style you prefer? We asked our Moroccan friend to help us finalise the sample order and to ask some important questions to make sure there were no loopholes. Turned out he was buying from someone else not directly from the makers and he didn’t have a clue how much they were being paid.
His prices were great for a second buyer so just imagine how much the makers actually made for hours and days of weaving. It’s sickening when you really think about it, and we just couldn’t go ahead with working with him. Bless him, he was such a gentleman and very honest.
Anyways, going back to who we work with. Here we work with an established family who have been supporting makers for generations. The weavers are employed by them and paid a fair wage. Being under an employment program means that their workers’ rights are met, and it puts our hearts and minds at ease to know this.
We named this collection after the Free Women of Morocco to raise awareness around the term Berber. The people of the land are Amazigh and wish to be referred to as this. Berber has been used for many years and a lot of people don't know that it is offensive and derogatory... did you?
The Amizagh community are extremely mindful in all that they do, especially re the protection of the livestock and their surroundings. The entire process of making our wonderful organic wool blankets is like so magical and spiritual. So much so that the Amizagh believe that each blanket, throw and rug they make is a protective shield against the evil eye. Can't wait to write a dedicated post about that.
Birthplace of our pops and the newest community in our little roster. They are a group of AMAZINGLY strong women that can make an income through the NGO we work with. We introduced this stunning collection of placemats that are made using banana riddle and raffia. Gorgeous!
We’re working to introduce one more community before Christmas 2021 so keep your eyes peeled.
Thank you so much for getting all the way to the bottom, I know I have a tendency to go on and on!
Till next time! Homaira x