‘Scarves & Sustainability’ is the current Kickstarter project of Sancho’s Dress. Believing deeply in ethical fashion, the Sancho’s Dress team – based in South Devon – are now moving on to promote the huge benefits that trade has in developing countries, as opposed to simple aid.
They are now in the ten-day countdown so have added a new deal: if backers invite a friend to back the Kickstarter, too, the current backer will be entered into the draw for 1 of 5 scarves/t-shirts and 1 of 5 £50 vouchers to spend in the shop, just in time for Christmas. If this is something that interests you, don’t forget to tell your friend to share their name to!
By backing this Kickstarter and choosing from their list of exciting rewards, you can support this pioneering brand in their goal to bring sustainable employment opportunities to at least six women in the Debra Mark’os area of Ethiopia. Here, the team plans to set up a safe and comfortable workshop, where the women will work to create thickly-woven, beautiful scarves. Again, advocating trade over aid, Sancho’s Dress will support these women as they bring money into their community, flourishing independently.
The scarves themselves are gorgeously soft, and perfect for the upcoming warmer weather. The creative designers of Sancho’s Dress have ensured the scarves can be matched with anything, taken anywhere, and used in any weather. As well as this, they’re available in two different designs – the delicate Butu, or bold Amaru. However, the innovation behind the scarves lie in their creation process. Hand-looming technology is used by the hands and feet of hard-working individuals in Ethiopia, using hand-picked cotton. This ancient weaving method ensures the environment is well-protected – as are the workers, who will receive four times the national Ethiopian wage.
So, why trade over aid? While aid may bring temporary relief to a specific problem, trade creates a self-sustaining environment, empowering entire communities with employment opportunities.
“Kids [in Africa] grow up believing only Western influence can bring about development,” explains co-founder of Sancho’s Dress, Kalkidan, “and that the likelihood of it reaching them is really rare. They grow up thinking the only thing that can bring them any development is the help of an aid worker, but also knowing that no aid worker will focus solely on them throughout their life.
However, business isn’t about that. Transparent accounts and social enterprise is about showing people what they can achieve when they work hard, and then rewarding them for their hard work. It’s about boldly saying ‘I love what I am, and I will wear it on my sleeve until others see that it is beautiful too.'”
To oversee scarf production, Kalkidan, her partner Vidmantas, and filmmaker Haroun Al-Shaater have travelled to Debra Mark’os. There, they’ve found that weaving is a highly-paid trade in Ethiopia, but unfortunately, it is also an industry that women have limited access to, with approximately 80% of its workers being male. As well as this, many women are unlikely to finish their education due to familial pressures, meaning they are less skilled than their male community members. This puts them at a great disadvantage – and it is also why Sancho’s Dress has chosen to work with them, training them to become competitive, able workers, and eventually turning them into leaders of the industry.
Due to this gender imbalance in the weaving industry, one of the challenges the team has faced has been finding skilled women to operate the looms. As such, they have decided to change their approach, and now employ the town’s best shamani (‘weaver’ in the local dialect) to train the local women to produce the scarves.
Shamani named Bekabil in Debra Mark’os, making a traditional throw that Sancho’s Dress hopes to stock winter 2015.
How does a shamani work his loom? He takes a seat behind the loom, setting his feet on the pedals. He prepares the loom by stretching strings of cotton between two horizontal wooden poles. Then, he moves the shuttle through the material’s weft, pressing the pedals at the same time and moving the garment forward. Amazingly, a shamani can produce anything between one to fifty scarves in a day depending on style, material and size.
I just backed Scarves & Sustainability on Kickstarter!
By backing the ‘Scarves & Sustainability’ project, you can help Sancho’s Dress bring about invaluable empowerment to the Debra Mark’os men and women – all in return for a beautiful scarf and, depending on which reward you choose, much, much more!