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The re-wrap artists: Handmade Knot Wraps from Indian artisans

In 2001, Indian-born Janjri Trivedi was working for her family’s furnishings business when an earthquake devastated the West Indian region of Kutch. 20,000 people were killed in the magnitude seven earthquake, which also destroyed over 8,000 villages and made more than a million people homeless.

When Janjri travelled to the area to assist survivors working in the same trade, she met a group of artisans still resolutely creating beautiful crafts despite the devastation that had overwhelmed their community. Their incredible resilience inspired her to create a wider, more global market for traditional craftsmanship which could help preserve the artisans’ unique skills and also explore the benefits of fabric recycling and re-use.

In India, and much of the world, the traditional embroidery skills Janjri had seen were being increasingly replaced by mechanised production, as workers went in search of better conditions and fairer pay. As well as facilitating the survival of these trades, she saw the opportunity to give women, who were often sidelined as homemakers, the chance to learn a marketable skill.

Working initially with a reusable gift packaging co-operative in Mumbai, Janjri used her background in textiles to form a social enterprise named re-wrap. This self-funded venture reached out to co-operatives and offered fellow artisans the opportunity to practice traditional crafts with dignity and increased financial security.

woof knot wrap christmas

Recycling, reclaiming and reinventing

Nearly two decades later, re-wrap has set up enterprises in Mysore and Gumballi that now support 130 women. Not only a place for skilled workers, new starters are taught basic and then increasingly advanced sewing so they can learn a skill and find a reliable source of economic autonomy. The work-space is clean and safe, there is no forced overtime, and members have the chance to earn bonus and top up their income.

Using the principles of recycle, reclaim and reinvent, the units create a range of recyclable, reusable products for customers all over the world, including bags, aprons, gift packaging and kitchen accessories. Being conscious of environmental impact, they prefer to deliver by ship and, wherever possible, all fabric waste is recycled or incorporated into designs. The result is a high quality, resilient fabric, which is durable enough to make lasting aprons for Lush retail staff.

The enterprise is also planning for the future, by re-investing profit (after paying costs) in projects like a new workspace in Mysore in 2018, and in transforming the cotton supply chain. Buying directly from farmers and paying a premium gives farmers security, and helps them to manage costs through pre-financing (where previously farmers frequently fell into debt).  This gives the cotton farmers a better deal and hope for the future.

You can see the work of this inspirational enterprise up close by checking out our Fighting Animal Testing canvas bags and Knot Wraps such as Wild FlowersGorillas and Woof!  Whether you use them to hold gifts, your daily shopping or even your gym kit, you’ll be helping to keep these traditional fabric crafts alive in a rapidly modernising world. 

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