CraftHER Week 1 Reflections

An introduction to the project and my reflections from week 1!
CraftHER Week 1 Reflections
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CraftHER is a project ran by ethical, women-led clothing brand SWARA, founded by@Asha Scaria Vettoor , focusing on amplifying women’s voices and rights, alongside learning from and working with the craft sector.

In Kochi week 1, we collaborated with Save the Loom, an organisation aiming to preserve the hand looming sector. Founded in 2018 after floods devastated communities that relied heavily upon hand looms for their livelihoods, Save the Loom worked to rebuild and repair the damaged looms, generating support from across India and the globe. Now with a store named One Zero Eight that allows customers to buy stylish handcrafted products, Save the Loom pushes to reinstate dignity and respect for the hand loom industry, which is largely made up of women artisans. 

In the first few days of the project, we had induction sessions. To me, this was vital in gaining an introduction into the craft sector and planning what we wanted to get out of the project. I found it daunting at first, as I was eager to learn but did not have much experience in entrepreneurship or building a brand and 6 weeks away from home began to feel like a really long time. What helped was the support from Asha and Preetha and the rest of the scholars, as I had so much to learn from everyone and the induction sessions allowed me to ask any questions I had. 

Our team of scholars! L-R: me, Lily, Ellie, Yoshino, Lucia, Grace

Collaborating with Save the Loom was such an eye-opening, inspiring few days. I was extremely grateful to be able to visit the clusters of women artisans, who weave using the repaired hand looms. We had the opportunity to speak with the weavers and learn from them the process of weaving, but more importantly, their stories of how they became weavers and how they feel about their craft. There are so many more people that work on one piece of clothing than i could have imagined- dyers, weavers, designers. Hand looming is not respected as a craft and the women we met saw their work as only work, not as a dignified craft, and did not wish for their children to follow in their footsteps, as the pay is low and the work is difficult. What struck me was the women’s resilience and openness to share with us and I learned how best to communicate through a translator but also how body language, tone of voice and expression are just as important and are beautiful ways of communicating. I would love society to value these women and for the women to have pride in their work and themselves. 

A typical hand loom, operated using every part of the body.

Save the Loom had asked for our help with social media to spread their story to more people. We worked really hard to come up with a list of recommendations, including using Instagram stories for more engagement and using consistent themes and colours to be cohesive. I worked on writing an article of our experience with the organisation, describing the weaving workshops and how it felt to speak with the women artisans. Collaborating with Save the Loom made me really aware of how important organisations such as this are in amplifying women’s voices and ensuing women’s independence, while also restoring dignity to the craft so the world sees the creativity, beauty and hard work that goes into handwoven clothes. 

Presenting our recommendations to Save the Loom in their store.

I am so grateful to the women artisans and to Save the Loom for my experience and the opportunity to speak with and learn from them.

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Go to the profile of Elizabeth Morvatz
15 days ago

Amazing! Such a great first week

Go to the profile of Lily Bates
15 days ago

Love this! An amazing start to the project! 

Go to the profile of Asha Scaria Vettoor
13 days ago

It's so lovely to see the week through your eyes, Megan. Thank you for sharing!You write so beautifully and I lookforward to reading the article you wrote aboutSave The Loom, where can I find it?

Go to the profile of Grace Nash
12 days ago

Love it Megan!