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Hand-Embroidery by Women Artisans of India

Sevya offers an extensive collection of hand-embroidered fair trade products, including fine cotton tunics, ladies shirts, cotton scarves, , silk shawls, bags and cushion covers.

Divya White Embroidered Tunic

Sevya works with thousands of women embroidery artisans in different regions of India, and each one is a member of an embroidery collective or non-profit organization. The women do the embroidery work in their homes, and this gives them the freedom to earn a sustainable livelihood through their craft whenever they have free time throughout the day. The women have learned embroidery from their mothers and grandmothers, and each region has a unique style of embroidery, ranging from the shadow-work known as "Chikankari" in Uttar Pradesh, to the running stitch known as "Kantha" in West Bengal, and the mirrorwork embroidery of Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Karnataka. Sevya's fair trade clothing showcases the fine Chikankari embroidery done by women in North India, and our women's silk scarves showcase the Kantha embroidery style of Eastern India.

Each woman artisan has a touching story to tell, both through her words and through the beautiful embroidery she does.

Vimla seems to have an inner strength that she says she derives from working at a local NGO doing embroidery and quilting.
She was married at fourteen and had her first child at sixteen. She must be thirty now, but she looks much older.
Her husband woks as a house painter but his work is uncertain so he doesn’t bring much money home.
She stays in a small room that is the bedroom, kitchen, and bathing room in one.
They go out on the road for the toilet.
Vimla does quilting and embroidery at the NGO for which she works from eleven to six. She takes work home too.
I asked her if she wants to go back to her village ever?
“There is nothing in the village,” she said, “no land no cattle and more than that they do not let girls study.”
“I want my girls to study and be smart and not foolish like I was. They should be able to make choices.”
She says “my deepest regret is I could not study so I did not understand many things.”
“My daughters will study and be intelligent and aware.”
She added, “I love my children but I love my daughters more. I want to make them strong.”
She says, “Everything is destiny but I am going to work as hard as possible.”

Raval Kalpana Purushottam-bhai

After getting married, I went to my husband’s household, and after having my daughter, I started having many fights with my husband and his family members. I got a divorce and went back to live at my mother’s house, taking my daughter with me. I then started working at the NGO doing embroidery and quilting. At the NGO, I worked with women in the field on health projects. I really enjoyed working with these women, but I became very physically tired. After this, the NGO coordinators sent me for a 1-year training to teach me how to train other women-artisans. Since then, I have moved on to lead the entire fabric processing unit. Now I feel physically relaxed.

Now I am no longer worried about my daughter’s education, and due to the rations we receive, I am not worried about household expenses any longer either. I am very happy after coming to this organization- and I feel like I am part of a family. I forget about all my past sadness and feel joy in openly interacting with everyone here.

I have two sons. One of them is eighteen years old but does not study or work. My hope clings on to the second son who is sincere in his studies & wishes to support the family financially. He is in his twelfth standard this year. He uses street light to study at night to save the use of electricity. Before working for the NGO, I wondered how I would manage to pay for his college fees.
When the NGO invited applicants for the Higher Education Loan, I applied and got the loan. I paid the fees for my son’s education. I do not fail to repay the loan amount to the NGO every month…because I know that money will help the NGO to fulfill another mother’s dream of educating her child.

Every purchase of a Sevya product directly benefits the artisans of India, and provides women like these with a life of dignity, self-respect, and renewed hope for the future of their children.