My grandma is Ethiopian. All of her clothes are handmade. The delicate cotton-woven pieces in her closet have been passed down for generations, but they still look gorgeous. She takes care of these pieces because someone made them. Someone made the garments she wears with their hands. Someone sewed them. Someone made the fabric. Someone spun the fabric. And so she preserves them and treats these pieces with respect, knowing that someone in her family once dedicated a small section of their life to the clothing she has the opportunity to wear on her body.
How many of us have that sort of relationship with our clothes or possessions?
I love fashion. I probably get that from my mom. She’s a beautiful and very put together person. Watching her get ready in the mornings as a kid, looking so chic, definitely had an influence on me. I was one of those kids who’d dress up in her mom’s jewellery, clothes, and heels. I developed an appreciation for style from a very early age. I loved the way a beautifully put together outfit could make me feel.
As an adult, my closet was starting to get a little out of hand. “Why do you need two jean white skirts?” asked my friend one a day a few years ago when I was trying to find something to wear. “What’s the point? They’re pretty much the same thing.” I, of course, was thinking: What is she talking about? They’re totally different. They have a different finish, etc… but they were actually just jean white skirts. Two of them.
It took me awhile to acknowledge this, but I was creating waste. I decided that I didn’t want to do that anymore. I started to empty out of my closet. What was I actually putting on my body? What was I purchasing, and why? $10 t-shirts are great, but a $10 t-shirt is a $10 t-shirt at a cost. Maybe not to you, but to somebody.
Why not buy clothes that are second hand, or locally or ethically made? I thought. I’d seen both my mother and grandmother draping their bodies in beautiful handmade fabrics. Unique. Clothing with a story. What would it feel like to have a more modest sized closet with pieces that were actually special to me?
My trip to India in 2009/2010 changed my perspective on all of this completely, and I became overwhelmed with a desire to share what I’d learned and what I’d found. You see… We can be beautiful inside and out by supporting people and causes that don’t negatively impact other people or the environment. I believe that it is possible to be both fashionable and ethical. I also believe that it’s important that we know where, who, and how the things we choose to have in our lives, came into our lives.
For the last two years, I have been travelling all over the world working with independent artisans. I’ve travelled by speed boat to secluded islands, gotten lost trying to navigate new cities using a ‘tourist map’, and heard the clapping of the looms in a small weaving village. It’s a very distinct sound. I wish you could hear it. It’s a sound I will never forget.
Everything offered through the Devi Arts Collective is handmade right from the beginning; all the products I’ve sourced out have been made under ethical and fair trade / sustainable practices. Every piece has a story.
Now, consider this: Your buying power is one of the strongest ways that you can influence the market, and by purchasing through the Collective, you are making the choice to know and be part of the story of the home décor, jewelry or handbag that you bring into your life. And that is a story worth sharing.
The artisans I’ve met around the world have inspired me. I owe so much to them for the way this collective has evolved. I didn’t realize I’d be working with people who make handmade journals, but I do. I didn’t think that I was going to work with fabric, but I do. I get inspired by people, and the handmade products that they create.
I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share their work with you now.
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