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The making of our Spring Summer capsule with Saheli Women

Updated: Feb 4, 2020

This capsule collection is very close to my heart. When I found out about Saheli Women I just knew we had to work with this incredible non-profit. We decided to create special pieces that will marry the center's work ethics with my designs.

First, I wanted to focus on one type of material and that was linen. Linen doesn't only feel amazing on your skin but it is also sustainable. It uses a fraction of the water that Cotton does and it doesn't require pesticides to grow. It is also one of the oldest textiles in the world, dating back to 30+ thousand years. And to keep this natural material intact, we used beautiful natural dyes that come from plants, minerals, flowers and spices like Turmeric and Saffron.

At the Saheli center, located in the rural village of Bhikamkor, near the city of Jodhpur in India, women are given the opportunity to start their lives as artisans, receive training, education and financial independence. We knew the training would take longer than expected, about 2 months before the development of samples begin, but we were prepared for it. We are following a 'Slow Fashion' model after all and we are not trying to chase after a fashion calendar, we are actually completely against it. We prioritize on the worker's well being and livelihood.

Above you can see Barthi, learning how to develop our signature hand crochet stitch technique. Barthi, who was recently employed by Saheli, didn't have any prior work experience as an artisan. Girls and women from rural villages in India are still expected to help at home, work in the fields and become stay at home mothers, while men get to go to school in order to have a job and earn a living to provide for their families.

Madhu (founding mother of Saheli Women and the non-profit organization IPHD) has given these women a reason to start a new chapter in their lives. They now receive health care, education, a living wage and become part a wonderful support group. Madhu and I normally communicate through Whatsapp, she is constantly sending me pictures of the process and sharing stories about the artisans. This is by far the best part of my job. To realize that your work is making an impact in someone else's life truly makes it worth every sweat and tear.

Here is an amazing video of Barthi learning how to read and write while at her job. After she joined the Saheli center she was inspired to complete her schooling and she is also really enjoying her new hand crochet skills ; )

Thank you for being here...

With love and gratitude,

Karenine Arraya

Designer and Founder

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