February announces the arrival of spring! We celebrated the Basant Panchami – heralding the end of winter and welcoming of spring as ‘Basant Ritu’ (the spring season in Hindi).’ Yellow’ is the dominant colour of this festival as it signifies the ripening of fruits and crops. Sasha wishes everyone a wonderful start to a new season, a season of bounty!
Welcome to our world of Kantha!
The Kantha holds a very special place within Sasha and reflects the meticulous artistry and creativity of the women we work with. At Sasha, Kantha reflects the holistic approach that characterizes the enduring relationship of a craft form, #empowerment and livelihood. Our Kantha themed exhibition in February was a grand success. We presented an eclectic collection of Kantha, in the best of its avatar. Extraordinarily beautiful creations in Kantha by our women artisans in every possible usage-was available at the Sasha Shop.
Feedback session with producer partners
We, at Sasha, are extremely committed to communicate and receive feedback from our producers. We organized meetings with the producer groups to share the customary business update and feedback sessions from the producer groups in the context of a genuine downturn in Fair Trade overseas markets and challenging times ahead. There will be ups & downs in business, but together we can face challenges. Nevertheless, Sasha has a lot of goodwill amongst buyers and a good reputation that needs to be maintained. The four decades of good work, transparency & accountability of Sasha should continue. Focused efforts are being made into new explorations; new market development and product development. On the producers’ part, prudent management of businesses is required. There is an urgent need to manage costs internally to remain competitive in prices. There is much potential and capacity that is still untapped in many producers and focus should be on making optimal use of that potential. Producers’ need to see investment in retail stocks as part of their investment. Far greater, the involvement of producers is required in developing & managing stocks in the Shop. Steps are being taken at the Shop to manage stocks in a better manner. Producers were keen to have market feedback on the sampling they do and send to buyers. Producers were urged to maintain documentation especially in areas of wages, benefits, raw materials etc. and also insist on insist on to implement inputs provided on technical aspects religiously.
SSA organized a Design Clinic in Delhi under the SOIR –IM project with the objective to evaluate the existing product lines, skill, markets through preliminary information received from the respective organizations, ideation, concept development & designs and recommend specific and generic inputs in the form of a Product development Plan to facilitate the organisations to improve, augment, supplement, create new designs and product ranges, as appropriate for specific markets. Five organizations participated in this Clinic. Senior designer consultants conducted the clinic & this was well appreciated by the participants. The participants received one-on-one inputs as well ample scope to learn from each other.
Partnership with CINI, Kolkata on a novel pilot
CINI, Kolkata approached SSA for the training of their young adult (hearing impaired & non-verbal) in crafts as part of vocational coaching. Considering the genuine constraints of the participants and lack of training infrastructure at CINI, a new model of training has been adopted. Participants have been adopted by our producer partners, local organizations and one of our Fair Trade members, where they would receive on-job training for three months and based on an evaluation absorbed at the units or trained further for another three months in tailoring, handmade papercraft, jewellery & candle making. At the outset, the project trainer from CINI conducted a session on Indian Sign Language with SSA staff & producer group leaders for smooth training. We are extremely optimistic about this novel approach and to see that this pilot succeeds.
Visitors from EZA
This month we had visitors from our long-standing Fair Trade partners EZA Fairer Handel, Austria. A team of 22 people, mostly volunteers and avid supported lead by Andrea visited the Sasha Shop. Presentations were made and discussions about Sasha’s work over coffee. Thereafter the team indulged in some serious retail therapy! It is always a pleasure to have teams from our Fair Trade partners.
A selected team of twelve members from different functional departments, units, and artisan groups from Association for Craft Producers (ACP), Nepal visited Sasha for an exposure visit. This is part of their annual visit to Fair Trade partners in India to assist their members to learn from the visit. It is always a pleasure to receive the team from our neighbouring country. Sasha facilitated the visit and helped plan the itinerary that included a visit to Sasha producer group, Head office, Shop and other Fair Trade members like EMA and CRC.
Students of Le Mark Institute of Art
We hosted a group of design student’s from Le Mark Institute of Art, a premier school of Fashion, Jewellery & Textile Designing institute situated in Mumbai. The students visited one of Sasha’s embroidery units and had a session with artisans on a demonstration of different embroidery techniques. Later they went to the shop & had an orientation on Fair Trade, ethical business & Sasha’s interventions in the craft sector.
Stay tuned to our newsletter to learn all about “Fair Fashion, Sustainable Fashion” event in March in collaboration with The park, Kolkata. On 24th March we will have three eminent designers as panellist to share their perspectives on the subject. Block your dates for our special exhibition-cum-sale from 24th -26th March 2017 at The Park!