Questions about fashion

Here at Ethnic Supplies, ending poverty is about job creation in order that African women can achieve financial independence. To that end I promote and sell the work of women that produce fashion accessories , art and crafts. The products are all handmade from natural or recycled materials.

Gahaya Links basket

I have recently found myself in deep thought as to how much the public understand about some of the terms that are used in the fashion industry and the impact of this on what I am trying to do here at Ethnic Supplies

 

This post is therefore my way of seeking feedback from the public on some of these terms. So over to you folk.

WHAT IS YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE FOLLOWING TERMS AS APPLIED TO FASHION ACCESSORIES ?

  1. sustainable
  2. sustainability
  3. FairTrade
  4. fairly traded
  5. fair trade
  6. humane silk
  7. ethical
  8. ethically produced
  9. Eco
  10. Eco friendly
  11. handmade
  12. handcrafted
  13. fair wage
  14. organic
  15. green
  16. suitable for vegetarian
  17. environmentally friendly
  18. sweat shops
  19. value addition

I also wonder what influences your choice when shopping,

would the above terms influence your choice when shopping?

If so why?

Are you happy to pay a premium for  a product with any of the above labels? If  so why?

I will keep this short so that we can have a discussion.

100 Years of International Women’s Day- Eugenie’s story

Happy 100th International Women’s Day

This is the last in the series celebrating our superfine fine ladies. We were in Madagascar yesterday where we met the lovely Henriette and we remain there today to meet Eugenie.

Eugenie- photo courtesy of FEEDBACK MADAGASCAR

Eugenie is the co-ordinator of  Ny Tanintsika Silk project in Madagascar as recently featured on BBC2 in ATTENBOROUGH AND THE GIANT EGG.  The project is part of wider efforts to conserve the ancient forests of Madagascar and is  supported by the charity FEEDBACK MADAGASCAR

Ny Tanintsika’s project was set up to revitalize the silk industry in the Amoron’i Mania, south central region of Madagascar with the aim of increasing wild silk production while conserving the tapia forests. The projects benefits the poorest within the community especially the women who are involved in silk production

The village artisans are supported through all the stages of silk production and its transformation into different products, right through to marketing support and sales and a annual target to replant the tapia is set for each village.

I first came across these ladies 3 years ago and when I heard their story I reached one conclusion, I had to be involved!

Silk Scarf Weavers-photo from Feedback Madagascar

As we spoke it dawned on me that the survival of both this textile will depend on the conservation of the ancient  forests, unless the ancient forest of Madagascar are conserved it will not be possible to harvest the wild silk from those forest. We concluded if the community continue to earn an income from the silk they collect it will be in their interest to conserve these ancient forests our challenge therefore is to enable the community to bring their silk products to the market.

As you will see from the documentary, the women and sometimes children go out everyday to find the cocoons from which the silk thread is woven and it takes them several hours a day  to collect enough cocoons to produce just one scarf in fact Eugene told me that they women produce one scarf per month by hand and they rely on the forest to get the amazing dyes they use on the fabric.

Silk is very important in the Malagasy way of life and here at Ethnic Supplies  we bring you some of the accessories made from this silk.


TO SUPPORT OUR WORK AND THAT OF THE CHARITY FEEDBACK MADAGASCAR PLEASE BUYING ONE OF OUR SCARVES AND BAGS FROM THE SILK PROJECT

nivo-raw wild-silk basket

Raw Wild Silk scarf

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100 years of International Women’s day- Flotea’s Story

On Tuesday 8th March 2011 the world will mark 100 years of International Women Day and we are bringing you the personal stories of the women that make Ethnic Supplies tick! yesterday we heard about Sabina an internally displaced refugee from Northern Uganda

Today we are in Tanzania  to introduce you to Flotea Masawe>

Flotea is an amazing woman who left school at a very young age with no qualification to speak of this meant that she was excluded from formal employment and the only skills she had were embroidery skills.  she started out by making table linen and curtains for her own home, when her neighbours saw the quality of her work they asked if she could make home furnishings for them too and soon word had got out and she had a list of customers.

She soon outgrew the space in her two room house, and had to extend it, as well as widening her range to include African tote bags.

Flotea’s idea has grown beyond her imagination and today she employees 30 women from the slums of Dar es Salaam. She shares what skills she has with women less fortunate than she is through workshops on textile production and designFlotea ‘s view about poverty in Africa “I pity any African who believes that some external person/outsider will come and resolve our problems, because I tell you what they will be waiting for a long time”

Women that work with Flotea at her Dar es Salaam work shop

Flotea believes  that the government merely plays lip service to women’s issues and that in fact unless women work together to share skills and resources they are unlikely to succeed. She told me that there are large numbers of women in Tanzania involved in textile production however there is no institution where these women can go and learn about textile and design. They instead rely on skills sharing where those who know teach those that do not. In her mind this is the one thing that would change life for most women especially the slum dwellers.

Other challenges included

  • Lack of IT and communication skills
  • Access to markets the lack of information means  they don’t always know what market demands are

I spent the rest of the afternoon and the best part of the evening with Flotea and her team and I taught them how to use email and PICASA Google’s photographs programme. this would enable them to share photos of their products with folk all over the world. Flotea appreciated this and as I left her she told me this is what we need people to come in and share what they know with us!

Africa Tote Bag

Africa Tote Bag

TO SUPPORT FLOTEA’S EFFORT TO LIFT OTHER WOMEN OUT OF POVERTY PLEASE CONSIDER BUYING ONE OF HER AFRICA TOTES  AT ETHNIC SUPPLIES ONLINE SHOP