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Updates - A Year of Challenges, Resilience and Hope

December 15, 2020

Updates - A Year of Challenges, Resilience and Hope

Each year I write a brief summary of our fair trade activities, both in relation to our artisan team and our customer outreach and education.

This year, our focus has been almost entirely on keeping our team intact, making sure everyone stays healthy and safe and cutting costs wherever we can to ensure the best outcome for our entire team. 

On the India side, in late March, the quarantine order was put in place with only a few hours notice.  It was difficult to understand how long the quarantine measures would last and what the long term meaning would be for our company and staff.  We closed our office and manufacturing as usual that evening and then learned of the very strict quarantine restrictions.  This meant no one from our team was allowed back to visit our buildings, to check and make sure everything was secured for a longer lockdown, to take additional supplies or to reach out to our staff. 

Everyone in our company was suddenly thrown into a new world, with lockdown measures which were so strict they did not allow for anyone to travel beyond the blocks of their own neighbourhood, even to purchase food.  Fortunately we have a fully electronic direct deposit banking system set up for all our artisan staff.  We were able to contact everyone by phone to check that they were okay and update them.  Our management team reached out to all our staff by phone, checking on everyone and providing information and updates.

I spoke with our management team regularly throughout this time.  Together we brain stormed and tried to stay positive and asked all our staff to follow protocols, to take safety measures and be patient.  The mental stress and feelings of depression were, at times, quite high amongst our staff who didn’t know how this was going to resolve, how it would affect their families, how and when our company would be able to reopen and resume manufacturing. 

I have reflected often on the first couple months and the number of contingency plans we made for our company and artisans.  Thankfully, when we were able to reopen our manufacturing, and clean everything from the dust that had collected, we were able to find ways of helping our staff get to work  Many of our team come from a distance, and, without any public transportation, restricted working hours and restricted number of passengers in cars, we had to really organise our schedule carefully to allow the maximum number of people to come to work.  The restrictions also affected most other parts of the supply chain: purchasing and receiving fabric from South India was problematic not only because of limited supply but also because many roadways were closed, transport systems were not running.  Getting trims such as elastic, polybags, tags, labels, pigment colours for printing—things we take for granted—were suddenly difficult or impossible to source.  The lack of coordination affecting every aspect of the supply chain not only meant delays in completing manufacturing orders, it meant delays in shipping orders.  Air freight and courier shipments were in various stages of not available, available on a limited basis, very expensive or having to use very irregular flight routes due to a breakdown in that transport system.  This meant that many times a shipment that would normally arrive in 3-5 working days was sometimes delayed for weeks.

The months of restrictions have had other indirect, but very significant effects as well.  The spring wedding season in April was cancelled and the many weddings which had already been arranged, also cancelled.  After Diwali in mid November, the Indian government did allow weddings to proceed while limiting the number of attendees.  Due to the many months of a ban on weddings and other gatherings, our staff, most of whom have large families, needed to organise weddings.  Most of our staff arranged for weddings of various extended family in the few weeks following Diwali.  It is  fortunate they were able to go ahead with the weddings, even under the circumstances.

Aside from covid-19 related restrictions, this year has been quite honestly, incredibly challenging.  The number of unusual and stressful, seemingly random events has been like nothing we’ve seen before.  The monsoon season was one of the worst in fifty years in Jaipur.  There was extensive flooding which permanently closed many small businesses, damaged vehicles, homes, people.  We sustained some damage to our block printing unit, but fortunately it was minor.  For us, the effect was closing down and waiting for the flooding to subside.  The rains caused more standing water than usual which meant a higher incidence of dengue fever.  Many of our staff became ill with a range of water born illness post monsoon.

We are near the end of the year.  The latest news is the farmer protests happening in and around India’s capital city of Delhi. We are hoping that the protests will be resolved favourably for India’s farmers with the least violence.  The main roads into Delhi are closed and varying degrees of closure and the threat of violence has meant worry over possible food shortages in Jaipur, meant our staff again has faced difficulty in physically getting to work.  Return of quarantine restrictions generally affects our schedule frequently.  Changing and limited flight paths and more expensive freight continue to affect our ability to dispatch shipments.

We have thankfully gotten through these many months.  We are grateful to all our customers for not cancelling orders, for working with us regarding lack of raw materials, difficult circumstances and the many adjustments we’ve had to make when supplies, restrictions or our working hours have been limited.  We thank our staff for their unwavering commitment to working together, to our management team for their leadership and positive attitude even when the most basic things were challenging, to our many suppliers for continuing to find solutions when things looked impossible. 

We have all been resilient. May we all continue to be.  I think I speak for our entire team when I say we are all deeply grateful to everyone’s resilience, perseverance and hope in these times. It is a testament to the human spirit that our staff has continued to stay focused on the tasks at hand in the face of great challenges.  Together we are pulling through this as a company.  It is humbling to see so many people work for the greater good and to see the positive effect teamwork has.  When people ask me to give an example of a fair trade ‘success’ story, I have to say, it is in the small things, done on a daily basis, that are the greatest success.  Because everyone matters.  When people work together, that adds up to the great success of everyone and their families having enough.  This is the story that matters.

I hope, as I know we all do, for a better year in 2021. 




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Fit/Sizing/Care

FIT

Our styles are meant to give room to breath and move.  We use fine tailoring coupled with a relaxed, comfortable fit.

We use a fit guide for each of our styles to provide more information about the fit that was intended.

Slim Fit: a close fit to the body. Regular Fit: a comfortable, relaxed fit with room around the body. Generous Fit: a very loose fit (such as in our oversized blouses) with lots of room around the body for ease of movement.

SIZING

h4XS/ 36

h4S/ 38

h4M/40

h4L/ 42

h4XL/44

h4chest

h435.5 inches/ 90 cm

h437.5 inches/95 cm

h439.5 inches/ 100 cm

h441.5 inches/ 105 cm

h444.5 inches. 113 cm

h44cm extra from body

h4waist

h426 inches/ 66 cm

h428 inches/ 71 cm

h430 inches/ 76 cm

h432 inches/ 81 cm

h435 inches/ 89 cm

h4fitted

h4low waist

h428 inches/71 cm

h430 inches/76 cm

h432 inches/ 81 cm

h434 inches/ 86 cm

h437 inches/ 94 cm

h4fitted

h4hip

h437 inches/ 94 cm

h439 inches/ 99 cm

h441 inches/ 104 cm

h443 inches/ 109 cm

h446 inches/ 1

h44cm extra from body

WASHCARE

All garments have been washed several times during the printing/dyeing and manufacturing process.  

CARE for 100% cotton

We recommend cold water machine wash (up to 30 degrees celsius) with a bio detergent and either tumble dry on low heat or line dry in shade for all of our 100% cotton garments/homewares (except for quilts).  

Iron on reverse side of garment following fabric settings.  

Do not use bleach or stain remover.

Cold water wash and low heat drying or line drying in the shade will increase the life of the garment, prolong the vibrancy of the colors and reduce energy use. Shrinkage on all cottons is minimal, approximately 3%.

Garments/homewares are dyed or printed using AZO free, low-impact, pigment or reactive dyes unless otherwise noted.  These dyes are color-fast, but care should still be taken to wash with like colors to retain the vibrancy of the colors.

CARE for 100% cotton quilts

For quilts with cotton fill, we recommend spot or light surface cleaning only with a damp cloth and mild detergent.  Eco-friendly dry cleaning is also recommended. 

CARE for herbal/vegetable dye items

Vegetable dyes are not colorfast and are specifically marked in the product description.  We strongly recommend that all vegetable dye products be washed once before use in a cold water wash with minimal detergent.  Wash separately. Tumble dry on low heat or line dry in shade.  Iron on reverse side.  Do not use bleach or stain remover.

Please keep in mind that indigo dye does continually fade over time.  This is the nature of true indigo dye and is not a defect, but rather a sign of the 'living' nature of the dye.

CARE for silk and cotton/silk

For our silk and cotton silk garments/homewares, we also recommend gentle cycle machine wash cold water (up to 30 degrees celsius) or delicate hand washing to increase the life of the garment and reduce the environmental footprint from energy use, detergents and water wastage.  

Tumble dry on low heat or line dry in shade.  

Iron on reverse side of garment following fabric settings.

Do not use bleach or stain remover.

Dry cleaning using an eco-friendly service is also recommended.

CARE for linen and cotton/linen

For our linen and cotton linen garments/homewares, we also recommend gentle cycle machine wash cold water (up to 30 degrees celsius) or delicate hand washing to increase the life of the garment and reduce the environmental footprint from energy use, detergents and water wastage.  

Tumble dry on low heat or line dry in shade.  

Iron on reverse side of garment following fabric settings.

Do not use bleach or stain remover.