What You Wear Matters: How Fair Trade practices empower women

May 09, 2019

World fair trade day 2019 fair trade innovates

Does it really matter if you buy a product from a Fair Trade-certified manufacturer, instead of one who isn’t? In the bigger picture, does a single purchase really change the world?

Our answer at Mehera Shaw is an emphatic “YES!”

Let me give you just one example. The welfare of women is of prime importance to Mehera Shaw, a long-time member of the Fair Trade Federation. We know, indisputably,  that our adherence to Fair Trade employment policies improves the lives of women even beyond those who work directly for our company.

Our small manufacturing company in Jaipur, India, employs 35 artisans who create apparel and home goods featuring heritage block-printing techniques passed from generation to generation. We’ve followed Fair Trade employment practices from our beginnings, 10 years ago.

Over that decade, we’ve realized that we are giving financial freedom to women who have never been independent from their fathers or husbands. We are providing an example of a workplace under the leadership of a woman, where female employees are treated equitably. Perhaps most importantly, we’re having an impact on upcoming generations of women in India by encouraging and supporting their continuing education.

Here are some of the ways that Mehera Shaw—and other companies who follow Fair Trade policies—are changing the lives of women in developing countries:


  • Our non-profit Mehera Road Foundation teaches marketable skills in the textile industry, such as stitching, how to follow pattern directions, how to check for quality and the importance of consistency in production. We donate materials used to make up-cycled products, then buy those products—cash up front, on completion. Some of the women have confided that their earned incomes have given them new status in their families. Others have said they keep this income separate from other household funds, and spend it as they see fit, rather than ceding all decisions to their husbands or fathers.


  • Mehera Shaw hires women. Most have been in quality control roles, though we also have a female supervisor overseeing the skills program. Mixed female/male workplaces are somewhat unusual in India. We’ve created a safe working situation for women, in which they are treated with respect and acceptance by their male colleagues.


  • We encourage continuing education for daughters as well as sons—and we put our money where our mouth is. Every year, Mehera Shaw makes education loans to employees, which can be repaid through payroll deduction. The company also pays one-third of annual bonuses in the fall, when extra money is needed for tuition and school supplies.


I recently attended a family wedding of one of our employees. A daughter and a niece of  one of Mehera Shaw’s employee came up to tell me they recently accomplished a big goal: Graduation from high school. Our employee who heads an extended family of 25, now insists that girls in the family be as fully educated as boys. Another of our employees now pays tuition for both his son and daughter to attend English medium schools. It’s so gratifying to know that we’re having an impact of the future of India through the education of its women.

But it is not only Mehera Shaw’s philosophy toward education that has made this change in attitude possible. Equal credit must be given to the Fair Trade practices—full-time permanent jobs, fair pay, pension and insurance benefits, and loans for education as well as medical emergencies—create the stability and security needed for families to thrive.

When you support companies that adhere to Fair Trade policies, you are making a difference beyond even what you imagine in the lives of people you may never meet.

That’s why we say that “Fair Trade is more than a label—it’s a relationship.”

#FairTrade, #fairtradeinnovates, #WFTDay2019, #GuaranteedFairTrade, #CleanWater4Artisans, #BlockPrinting, #WFTO #FairPay #BlockPrinting #Artisan #LiveFair #handmade #FTF


Mehera Shaw Textiles is a certified fair-trade textile manufacturer, headquartered in Jaipur, Rajasthan—the heart of India’s craft industry. Our staff of 40 includes artisan printers and block makers, tailors, pattern makers and dye masters. All are full-time employees, paid year-round, including pension and insurance benefits. We know that stable jobs contribute to the health and prosperity of our artisan communities.

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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.


h4XS/ 36

h4S/ 38


h4L/ 42



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


h426 inches/ 66 cm

h428 inches/ 71 cm

h430 inches/ 76 cm

h432 inches/ 81 cm

h435 inches/ 89 cm


h4low waist

h428 inches/71 cm

h430 inches/76 cm

h432 inches/ 81 cm

h434 inches/ 86 cm

h437 inches/ 94 cm



h437 inches/ 94 cm

h439 inches/ 99 cm

h441 inches/ 104 cm

h443 inches/ 109 cm

h446 inches/ 1

h44cm extra from body


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.