As the writer behind Sassy Mama Hong Kong’s Instant Goddess, I look at A LOT of fashion websites, (and yes, often shop like a woman possessed), so it was extremely refreshing and humbling to come across Desi Store recently. This not-for-profit company sells South Asian handicrafts made by local artisans from disadvantaged backgrounds, trying to improve their lot in life.
Desi Store stocks a range of handmade products including toys, bags and textiles. Buying any product from Desi Store helps contribute to the plight of these struggling artisans. Whether it’s a brightly coloured wooden toy handcrafted by disabled artisans in Sri Lanka; a handstitched kantha blanket made from vintage saris by girls in Dhaka who have escaped a life of sex trafficking; or an embroidered bag made by struggling women in rural Pakistan, whatever you choose it will help someone somewhere in some way.
It’s always interesting when a product has a story and as a mother, the kantha blankets certainly struck a chord. Made from six layers of vintage saris sewn together with kantha stitches, mothers in Dhaka teach their daughters the kantha stitch from an early age, and how their stitches should be small and straight. Daughters, in turn, become mothers and make kantha blankets for their children to keep them warm. In the words of Basha, the organisation that helps these artisans, “Mothers dream of a good life for their daughters. No mother dreams that her daughter will be sold into prostitution.” But many girls in Bangladesh are at high risk of this very fate. The small act of buying a kantha blanket or throw will help these women carve out a better life for themselves.