An integral part of our supply chain, we have chosen to work with “Changemakers” in the local markets that have worked directly with the artisans for many years.
All of these Changemakers have already contributed to significant social change for women and weaving in their local communities and work via social Impact organisations that ensure that the female artisans and producers receive the fiscal and structural benefits from the work that they do.
Christina Merker-Siesjö and Yalla Trappan
Christina Merker Siesjö is a Swedish social entrepreneur and the founder of and chairman of the work-integrating women's cooperative Yalla Trappan. She was named professional woman of the year 2017 and received the Fredrika Bremer Association's BRA award in 2019.
Yalla Trappan is a social enterprise located in the heart of Rosengård, an ethnically segregated part of Malmö, Sweden. Since the start in 2010, Yalla Trappans goal has been to provide work for immigrant women who would otherwise have severe difficulties entering the labor market. Organized as a women’s cooperative, Yalla Trappan is built on democratic values such as participation, co-determination and solidarity. The Trappan projects focused on women’s entrepreneurship, integration, empowerment, education and equality. Yalla Trappan now employs 40 women and has set up a mentorship and licensing scheme to spread the model across Sweden and beyond.
Kent Gregory has been a social activist for over 30 years, venturing deep into the jungle on the border of Thailand and Myanmar to work with the indigenious Pwo Karen people originally from Myanmar. He founded Sop Moei Arts with the ongoing aim to generate income for the Pwo Karen people who have long faced the problems of poverty and malnutrition. Kent has been doing community development work with Karen villagers in north-west Thailand since 1977, initially focusing on providing primary health care for children and in 1988, with funding from SIDA, he started an income-generation scheme based on local skills which were already highly developed within the Karen tribe: Textile and basket weaving.
Sop Moei Arts collaborates with local villagers to create unique, limited edition and one-of a-kind products, employing their expertise in weaving and basket making. This provides not only a sustainable source of income for the Pwo Karen but also helps keep alive their traditional craft skills, which are rapidly disappearing.
For over 18 years, Monica traveled to all corners of the country with Tibetan nomads, artisans, and businessmen and women. On horseback, foot, buses, and 4-WD Jeeps, she stayed in the nomad’s yak-wool tents and learned about their traditions and their way of life. Monica learned that the nomads' wealth is in their herds of goats, sheep, yaks, and horses, so one of the most effective ways to increase their incomes is to add value to their wool and cashmere. And the most expeditious ways to do this was to help them secure fair market prices and start their own businesses. As a result, Monica founded Noble Fibre, a social benefit corporation that invests in nomad communities and artisan enterprises, including a woman-owned business in Tibet.
The goal of Noble Fibre is to source fibre and other materials directly; improve fibre quality; increase incomes for nomads, weavers, local businesses, and workshops; and produce exceptional quality products for great value. Noble Fibre strives to achieve not just financial returns but social, cultural, and environmental returns.
Carol Cassidy has devoted her life to preserving textile culture and weaving traditions that are at risk of being lost- most specifically in Laos, but, she has worked with artisans around the world. She has been weaving since she was 17 years old. Having worked in virtually every continent from America to Africa, she arrived in Laos in 1989, as a textile expert with the United Nations Development Programme.
In 1990 she started Lao Textiles, among the first commercial weaving workshops in Laos. Carol blends her own artistry with ancient local techniques and traditions to create contemporary woven art. The team of predominantly female weavers use hybrid looms, which Carol designed herself, to produce intricate brocade, ikat and tapestry textiles. The hand-crafted pieces are labors of love. Wall hangings often take months to complete; on the most complex designs only two centimeters are woven per day.
Carol Cassidy is an institution in the world of weaving, and has received many accolades for her work- both her weaving and her work with supporting artisans. Aid to Artisans honored Carol with their first Preservation of Craft award in 2002 for her efforts in preserving silk weaving in Laos. Carol Continues to work directly with rural artisans and to advise the UN and other development agencies on income-generating activities for women.