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      About Colombian Mola Art

      Molas were shown at the Bogota Gold Museum's exhibition 'Molas: Layers of Wisdom' from September 2016 to July 2017 | © Clark M. Rodríguez - Gold Museum, Bank of the Republic

      Molas are a piece of artwork each one is a one of a kind. They are created in fabric in a technique commonly called appliqué.

      Molas originated from the indigenous community of the Gunadules (also known as Kuna people group), located around the border between Colombia and Panama. In this community, women are the ones in charge of the design and sewing of Molas, which they then wear as a fundamental piece of their garment. In fact their Mola is so important, that they are buried with their Molas.

      Molas are colorful, detailed and beautiful pieces of stitched artwork, but they also carry significant cultural meaning for indigenous communities in Colombia. 

      Interesting fact; You will not ever see molas available to tourists as clothing items as the Kuna people consider this to be sacred and they prefer to not have tourists wear the garments in the traditional ways. 

      A Colombian designer who now calls Australia home has created the best way to enjoy and wear this amazing art.

      The Mola Boot.....

       

       

      #ChooseToChallenge - 8th March International Woman's Day

      #ChooseToChallenge - 8th March International Woman's Day

      The global UN Women theme for International Women's Day (IWD) 2021 is “Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”.

      To be honest I found it hard, this year, to write about this theme. Because I want equality, but by merit, and women’s justice issues lead by both men and women, not numbers or ratios of men to women. Perhaps, I have the luxury to feel this way because I am surrounded by amazing men who treat  me as their equal.  So, I am not going to throw stats about the lack of representation because in my world men can represent and speak up for women too.

      BUT, we must recognise that this can only happen when men are raised well and are not misogynists. Therefore, we need to recognise the importance of raising self-assured boys and fierce girls who can become a voice to forge a gender equal world that accepts and encourages girls into leadership roles.

      Firstly, to do this we need to raise girls (and men) in a way that proves to them that they are equals. We must teach girls to  believe 'We can do anything that men can do.' But, we also need to teach our boys to say, 'We can do anything that women can do."

      Below are a few ways we can be leaders to facilitate this:

      • Celebrate and support women who are in male dominated fields, to create role models for the girls and lift the stereotyping.
      • Celebrate and support men who take on their fair share to care for children and at home duties.
      • Attend games and watch sports of both men and women. If there is to be fair pay in women’s sports the general public need to support it, and that is you and I.
      • Speaking up and encourage women to pursue their goals without bias or barriers. Such as raising the awareness of the importance of building a workplace that enables women to thrive. This is not about special treatment for women, but about the implementation of integrated gender diversity strategies. For example, we need educate our leaders of the future both men and women to speak up and say that a “‘masculine’ or ‘blokey’ culture that is non-inclusive and has a higher tolerance of behaviours that could be viewed as sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination” is NOT OK – EVER (Australian Human Rights Commission, Women in male dominated industries – a tool kit of strategies, 2013).
      • Equal pay for an equal day of work. Why is this so hard ????!!!!
      • When there is an obvious skew of lack of representation of women to men in a particular field or organisation it needs to be discouraged and seen as a business failure and this should be brought up for attention. And those who raise awareness  should be praised  as champions for equality.
      • Wear Fair Trade. By supporting Fair Trade you are supporting organisations that believe in gender equality and the empowerment of women. For example, at Global Mamas the women are encouraged to become business owners. To see how Fair Trade changes the life of these women go to the Global Mamas website

      One of my female heroes is Malala Yousafzai, an activist who at the age of 15 was shot because she stood up for her right to an education and despite almost losing her life  she still fights. She became this amazing leader because she had a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school.  He told her she can! Malala’s father highlights the need to tell our children they can be leaders to facilitate change to create a better, more inclusive world.

      Malala's courage to speak up has highlighted that one of the biggest challenges facing women into roles of leadership is educational inequality. Unfortunately, globally there is still a belief that women are not  worthy of the same educational opportunities afforded to men. Poverty, geography, and other factors contribute to huge disparities in education, but it is traditional patriarchy that justifies this denial of opportunity. Education is power and we need to ensure that both the enlightened men and women of the world stand up and voice to the patriarchal societies, that women have the right to education and that there needs to be policies to facilitate education at a governmental level. UNICEF is one organisation that is doing something about this issue, to find out more go to https://www.unicef.org/education/girls-education . 

      #choosetochallenge #IWD2021 #BeTheChangeYouWantToSee

       

      Global Mamas

      Image: source https://www.globalmamas.org/MeetTheMamasByTechnique

       

      Khadi, Natural Dyes & Block-printing are our passion - This is why :)

      Khadi, Natural Dyes & Block-printing are our passion - This is why :)

      All our designs for our inhouse label of clothing “Awear social re-design” are made by hand weavers. My taste runs to the more rustic woven cloths that have a subtle texture- the handwork involved is obvious in the subtle variations of the hand spun thread and the small changes in tension that happen as the weaver goes through the day.


      What can be the charm of khadi could also drive someone nuts, it does have little slubs and bumps in it sometimes, there can be subtle differences in tension of the weave from weaver to weaver. However, this is something I find absolutely charming as the fabric tells a story.


      What makes khadi production even more beautiful is that when done ethically, it produces much needed work in poor rural communities.


      Our label uses natural dyes because we want to protect waterways and protect producers and the community from toxic chemicals.


      “With landfill and plastics at the forefront of our minds, dyeing is often overlooked when it comes to fashion’s impact on the environment. But our desire for colour is quite literally toxic, and plays a key role in the argument for more sustainable style.” (https://www.vogue.com.au/fashion/news/5-ways-to-fix-fashions-biggest-pollution-problem-dye)

      Due  pollution caused by textile production, the river Noyyal in India is so contaminated it has been rendered useless for other purposes, in fact it is so bad that its not even suitable for irrigation. 

      Villages downstream from Tirupur on the Noyyal are the worst affected. Perfectly arable land has turned barren though there’s no shortage of water. In fact there is an abundance of it. Its just polluted. 

      Our philosophy is that clothes that do this kind of harm are ugly, no matter how aesthetically pleasing to the eye. 


      Our clothing is beautiful in every way that matters - visually and the way it feels on your skin, but most importantly  it is kind to the environment and those making it. Our clothing is special. And thus requires special and kind treatment, such as gentle washing in cold water and drying in the shade. Doing this you will get years of wear.


      Natural and non-toxic dyes will fade gracefully over time. Indigo will still rub for a wash or two and will slowly fade. We assure you though, that they will fade gracefully with age. We use AMA Herbal GOTS certified natural dyes for reliable quality.


      The block prints we use are water based, solvent free printing inks, they are permanent. All block printing is done by hand. Minimal water is needed to clean up after printing.


      Artisan made, environmentally kind clothing is a display of love that flows between the maker and the consumer. It creates employment, improves quality of life and preserves cultural skills that have been passed down for generations. It improves social design, and that’s what our label is all about.

      Lots of love,

      Yvie :)

      Owner, dreamer and doer @ Aware...the social design project

       

       

       

       

      Yes, we have our own label. This is our ethos...

      Yes, we have our own label. This is our ethos...

      ‘Awear… social re-design’ is our in- house label. This is our ethos…..

      • Small production = Less fashion waste.
      • Ethically made through a sustainable workshop (The Stitching Project), in Pushkar, India which gives fair pay to their crafts people.
      • We partner with The Stitching Project because they have the same ethos as us. Together our aim is to improve the lives of those who have made our goods while also minimalizing waste.
      • Our brand celebrates and stands as an advocate for eco and artisan production.
      • Every piece is hand spun and handloomed (khadi), in 100% cotton. With its open weave it ventilates beautifully and because we pay for quality master artisan made fabric, the items last for years.
      • The pieces are dyed with GOTS certified sustainable plant-based dyes. We do this because we want to protect waterways from pollution and ensure that our crafts people have uncontaminated drinking water.
      • Our label is a “Slow Fashion Movement” brand. This means that when you choose a garment that is precious, you will wear it with intention and cherish it for many years to come.

       

       

       

       

      A Social Design Product That is Tackling The Pandemics Hunger Crisis

      A Social Design Product That is Tackling The Pandemics Hunger Crisis

      At present there is a hunger crisis happening throughout the world caused by a multitude of factors linked to the coronavirus pandemic and the interruption of the economic order such as; the sudden loss in income for countless millions who were already living hand-to-mouth and the widespread shortages of hard currency from tourism drying up.

      At this time I am actively taking on products that are getting food into mouths for those most in need. Such as our new instore bags from Colaba and Co, an already amazing businesses that provides sustainable employment to those living in the slums of Dharavi (Mumbai) . The business is switching to philanthropy in this time of need. Colaba and Co’s producer Abdul, who is seeing the starvation first hand has made a commitment during this hunger crisis to put all his profits towards feeding the hungry.

      Experts around the world are saying that never before have we faced a hunger emergency like this. “In India, thousands of workers are lining up twice a day for bread and fried vegetables to keep hunger at bay.” (The New York Times)

      Almost all the people in the slums are daily wage earners and during the pandemic lockdowns for those not going to work for so long, it means they have absolutely no money and hence cannot buy food.  This is a quote from a Dharavi resident “The lockdown has been extended. For us the news is clear: more days without work and food. We want you to reach out to the people of Dharavi. Please help our families with at least basic food and supplies” (m.hindustantimes.com).

      Our philosophy here at Aware… the social design project is hand-up, not hand out, but sometimes, like in pandemic, a little bit of both is needed. And these beautiful handmade bags are a social design project that are making resources available at time when they are most needed.

      Hard Knock Impact Hit Caused by The Corona-virus Pandemic

      Hard Knock Impact Hit Caused by The Corona-virus Pandemic

      I am very sad to share the news that the little workshop I work with in India, Lucknow, AIF Pvt Ltd, will be closing down this month. Like so many tiny businesses, we have been knocked by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

      All the labels and designers who have worked with them are facing their own business difficulties. No matter how much they would wish things otherwise, most of them are in no position to make new orders and some have even been forced to cancel forward orders. Its a hard blow. But, by comparison we have been lucky, Every designer working with AIF ensured full payment for all the work done for them. That means the facility has been able to close in a more orderly manner, while the production team has had some time to look for work in other places.

      Our big concern is for the immediate employability of the talented and highly skilled tailors. They have families to support, so we can only hope that the skills they have built working with us will make them more competitive for the few jobs on offer. 

      The health crisis has hit India very badly, and India’s economy is suffering. The textiles industry has been seriously affected, as it has been everywhere. Jobs are scarce. I plan to keep in contact and do what I can to help them find a job. 

      Ironically, the women whose opportunities for employment and training were the purpose of our formation in 2007 are served a little better right now. The conservative culture in which they live means that their families rally round and support women in times like these. We are proud of the fact that some of our women workers, quite vulnerable in their particular family circumstances, have been empowered by the independence they have earned by working with us, and carry a higher level of respect even as they return to the relative safety of their family homes. In future, they have skills they will be able to bring to new jobs with the confidence they have gained from working with us.

      Australia should be proud that we have exceptionally amazing labels, all involved with the sustainable fashion movement, they even raised funds to support our workers during the 6 week long shutdown in March/April, when we were suddenly closed by the government and had no opportunity even to work from home. That fund-raising effort paid the salaries of the staff for the entire lockdown and enabled us to extend the amount of time we could employ our people by more than three months after the lockdown was over. To those who contributed to that campaign, THANKYOU. However, this situation can’t be strung out any longer. With the last orders nearing completion and not enough work foreshadowed for the coming months to pay rent or salaries, the production facility has had to admit defeat.

      I want to thank AIF, Penny Cantle and each designers and all the special people whom have valued us, the people who make it possible to create things that put the planet and people first , over profit. These people have been leaders in the sustainable and ethical textiles movement, committing their own funds and the futures of their businesses in their determination to prove that it is possible to make beautiful things without exploiting either the planet or its people. It is a wonderful thing to know that this approach to business continues to grow, even in these difficult times. Each of the partners working with AIF, including myself, has taken the time to find a new production unit that meets our ethical standards, so it is very good to know that these labels will continue into the future, supplying us with beautiful products that we can feel good about buying. Please do continue to support these brands, and mine, so we can continue to support fair and ethical employment of textile workers. They are listed below:

      Labels and businesses from which you can buy with confidence;

      Carlie Ballard

      Aware: the Social Design Project

      Coastal Street Party

      One Another Design

      Moonbird

      Buddhikas

      Alcana

      Pure Pod

      Free the Label

      Mamitas

      Above all I would like to personally thank the key person in all of this, who has worked with me from the beginning to create a safe, supportive and happy workplace as well as a viable business. As the onsite manager in Lucknow, Pragya Singh has implemented all our plans and dreams, and is now undertaking the heartbreaking task of pulling it all apart. Everyone who has worked with AIF, as employee, supplier and customer, owes her a huge debt of gratitude for the way she has done her multi-faceted job with both efficiency and heart.  

      There are more testing times ahead, especially for the poor. I dread them and feel powerless in the situation creating them, but I am confident that a larger number of people with the means to buy thoughtfully will do just that, now and into the future. More and more of us will ask the question, “Who made my clothes?” and shop only where we can receive an answer that gives us certainty that our purchase has done no harm.

      ****Words have been taken and revised to articulate my own sentiments with approval from Penny Cantle, my dear Fair Trade mentor, friend and founder of AIF****

      Photos such as these are now more treasured than ever... My heart pains to think of all the stress they are under during this time. I wish I was in a position to do more :(.