A Stitch in Time: Artisanal Kanthas Empowering Exploited & Marginalized Women

Have I got a story for you today!!! Oh my!

One project on which I’m working right now will be incorporating a lot of global prints and influences and giving them a bit of a New England twist. For a guest room, my client and I are considering a moody, multi-layered effect. The below was an one of our inspiration photos.

 

Artisanal Kanthas Empowering Exploited & Marginalized Women

Gil Schafer via Garden & Gun

 

My client particularly loved the quilt, which is in her favorite henna color.

 

Now, I know you can find kanthas all over Etsy. Maybe they’re awesome, maybe they aren’t. I don’t know. I do know that the prices seem ridiculously low, which leads me to think one of a few things:

  1. The quality is poor.
  2. The people making these things are being exploited.
  3. Perhaps both both together.

John Derian carries kanthas at his beautiful store (read my post on my trip to his fabulous NYC location!), and some retail outlets like John Robshaw, Pottery Barn, and Annie Selke have some kantha-inspired quilts, as well. Nothing, however, was striking the right chord in my search.

Then I lighted upon Anchal.

 

(All further pictures provided by Anchal.)

 

Anchal Project: Designing Futures for Exploited & Marginalized Women

Thanks to a tip from a colleague, I checked out Anchal, a textile company dedicated to freeing women in India from the vicious cycle of poverty, lack of education, and the commercial sex trade. Through a holistic program of design and skills training, full-time employment with fair wages, a safe work environment, educational workshops, health services, and a supportive community, Anchal helps its female artisans recapture their dignity and, in turn, provide brighter futures for their own children.

 

 

“Commercial sex workers in India are stigmatized and marginalized from society. They are forced into the commercial sex trade due to poverty, lack of education, limited skills and extreme gender inequality….

Evidence proves that economically empowering women can transform the trajectory of entire families and lead to widespread economic growth. Anchal believes investing in a female commercial sex worker, especially one with children, is an opportunity that can transform an entire family and in turn, society.” -Anchal Project

 

 

The word “anchal” has two meanings — 1. the decorative edge of the sari used to provide comfort & protection to loved ones, and 2. shelter.

Run by sisters Colleen and Maggie Clines, the Anchal Project began during Colleen’s time in graduate school at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). While on a trip to India, her class was given an assignment to create something in textiles that gave back to and created change within the community. She and three of her classmates were struck by the oppression women faced as commercial sex workers and felt the region’s rich textile tradition presented an economic opportunity to change their futures.

 

Colleen with some of Anchal’s artisans.

 

The co-founders raised $400 by selling handmade notebooks and notecards and began with 15 artisans. These funds enabled them to purchase a sewing machine, sewing instruction, materials, and a stipend for the artisans.

Anchal officially received 501(c)3 non-profit status in the United States in 2010 and expanded the project by partnering with a second NGO, Vatsalya, in Ajmer, India. Maggie Clines joined her sister Colleen to co-lead Anchal as Creative Director upon graduating with a BA in Architecture from the University of Kentucky in 2012.

 

To date, Anchal has trained more than 425 women and currently employ 130 artisans in Ajmer, India. 

 

Anchal’s blog is absolutely beautiful and so inspirational. Moreover, you can also read the personal stories of 35 of Anchal’s artisans here. Please check them out.

 

Kanthas, Contemporary Quilts, & Embroidered Accessories

Anchal heritage kantha quilts are created using upcycled saris, joining multiple layers together with a simple running stitch. The saris are given a second life, just like so many of the women under whose hands they find new beauty and purpose. As they grow more confident in their craft, Anchal’s artisans take on the roles of designers. A standard throw quilt takes an average of 2 weeks to stitch.

 

A Stitch in Time: Artisanal Kanthas Empowering Exploited & Marginalized Women

A selection of kanthas available.

 

Anchal’s award-winning Narrative collection employs contemporary geometric designs defined by sophisticated patchwork and aggregated stitch patterns, revolutionizing traditional kantha quilting techniques.  I absolutely LOVE the triangle throw.

 

A Stitch in Time: Artisanal Kanthas Empowering Exploited & Marginalized Women

 

A Stitch in Time: Artisanal Kanthas Empowering Exploited & Marginalized Women

 

A Stitch in Time: Artisanal Kanthas Empowering Exploited & Marginalized Women

 

A Stitch in Time: Artisanal Kanthas Empowering Exploited & Marginalized Women

 

A Stitch in Time: Artisanal Kanthas Empowering Exploited & Marginalized Women

 

A Stitch in Time: Artisanal Kanthas Empowering Exploited & Marginalized Women

 

A Stitch in Time: Artisanal Kanthas Empowering Exploited & Marginalized Women

 

A Stitch in Time: Artisanal Kanthas Empowering Exploited & Marginalized Women

 

Anchal artisans  take great pride in the quality of their products, using 6 layers vintage saris for each quilt, thread of much higher quality than is typically found throughout the industry for longer wear, and employing significantly more stitching at a spacing of 1/4 inch.  All new designs employ organic cotton.

 

A Stitch in Time: Artisanal Kanthas Empowering Exploited & Marginalized Women

 

My client settle on this beautiful queen kantha for her guest room.

 

A Stitch in Time: Artisanal Kanthas Empowering Exploited & Marginalized Women

 

A Stitch in Time: Artisanal Kanthas Empowering Exploited & Marginalized Women

 

Has anything of theirs struck your eye?

 

The Clines sisters are in New York even as I write, debuting their new Fall 2018 line at the NY Now trade show. I’m so excited to see their new designs!

I hope you’ll consider Anchal’s beautiful offerings the next time you’re searching for a unique gift. Handbags, scarves, table runners, and of course, the quilts! Even if you’re not in the market for home goods but you are interested in supporting its endeavors, you can also consider sponsoring an artisan.

 

A graphic for pinning!:

Kantha Quilts Empowering Exploited Women Through Economic Opportunity

 

If you liked this post, you may also be interested in these:

Live Edge Furniture Supporting Addiction Recovery

Julie Dasher Rugs: Quality & Artistry Without Exploitation

 

I’ll be taking the next 2 Saturdays off to get a little R&R before school begins. I will miss you all, but keep the comments coming! And let me know if you purchase something of Anchal’s! I’d love to know that my 3:30 AM morning today contributed to these talented sisters’ endeavors and their equally talented and courageous “sisters” in India.

-Amy

 

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  • Paula Moreshead

    I’m so happy you featured this company on your blog….I already have several people in mind who would appreciate the mission and beauty of their products!

    Enjoy your break!ReplyCancel

    • Amy

      Thank you so much, Paula! I, too, will be keeping Anchal on my source short list for gifts this season.ReplyCancel

  • The Clines sisters are in New York even as I write, debuting their new Fall 2018 line at the NY Now trade show. I’m so excited to see their new designs!

    True Thing and great design

    thanksReplyCancel