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Women-led. Leadership at Mehera Shaw

March 07, 2021

Women-led.  Leadership at Mehera Shaw

 

As the co-owner and executive director of Mehera Shaw, I have often been asked what it’s like as a women, to run a fair trade, artisan manufacturing company based in India.  The deeper implication of the question is usually how I manage in a patriarchal society.  Yes, it is a challenge on many fronts. 

 

I had to learn on the ground.  I came from an academic background and had to learn about business, working in India and being a director all at the same time.  The very reason my husband and I started this business was to ensure fair trade labor standards would be at the core of our company.  As director, I had to learn what this really meant in daily practice and how to ensure those standards —equity, living wages, on time wages, safe working environment, to name a few— were maintained.  It was a steep learning curve and while it has gotten easier, it is always a process of learning, understanding, adjusting.

 

I am also a foreigner.  While I have a deep connection to India stretching back to my grandparents time and have been visiting, living in and studying India all my life, I continue to learn more on a daily basis, about India and working within the artisan context in India.  It is a balancing act.  Being a foreigner has been both an advantage and disadvantage. As an American, I feel I come from a background which has helped me be more assertive and set expectations. I’ve addressed gender equality within our company regularly, the need for it, the significance of it and how to maintain it in the workplace.  I discuss the need educate girl children and value women’s rights with our team.  It was very hard making these points in the early days of our company, but now I see many ways in which both men and women are changing their perspectives and putting values of equality into daily practice. 

 

In the early days of our company, I had expectations that didn’t match the circumstances of the work.  I’ve learned through experience to take the context into consideration at all times. I am always adjusting and deepening my understanding.  After a lifetime of learning about India and twenty plus years as a business owner in India, I find myself humbled on a daily basis by what our team accomplishes, their skills, their dedication.  I also see a change in both men and women in our company, toward upholding fair trade values themselves. 

 

At the core of my own leadership style as a woman, is showing respect—for the individuals, their skills, their families, the context of their lives and the culture.  I find leadership is more about understanding every situation from another person’s perspective than telling people what to do.  Putting people first isn’t just a nice tagline, it is a practice. It means I need to listen, understand what our team is facing, what the challenges are, what’s working, what’s not.  Solicit and listen to suggestions.  Convey my appreciation, my trust, my support.  Develop training programs, better protocols and approaches when issues arise.

 

We have grown up together as a company, and developed a set of standards for the work, the finished product, for teamwork.  To me, leadership is about supporting our team so that everyone is a valued member and instilling that sense of teamwork, pride in one’s work, self respect and dignity in each and every person.

--Shari Keller




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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.