Together, With You, the Artisans Will PrevailAugust 24, 2020 | By Pushpika Freitas, President of MarketPlace
In early April we faced such daunting obstacles that we were considering not even trying to produce a new collection and catalog. India was in total lockdown, mills and transport were at a standstill, and shops were closed. Even after things opened up a bit, quarantines could still shut down neighborhoods and businesses without warning.
However, the women artisans were not happy just receiving an emergency subsidy from MarketPlace. Our motto, "Dignity not Charity" is an ingrained value, and the women wanted to return to work. It was important to them to earn their own money, particularly as many of their family members had lost their jobs.
We had to rethink and restructure how we did things, but we were able to get it done! It meant Zoom meetings, arranging alternative transportation, and hunting for supplies in an ever-changing market environment. Sometimes artisans can walk to their workshops; but if COVID cases are reported, the area is locked down again.
Here in the U.S a stay at home order was in effect making model shoots impossible. But as things opened up, we were creative and able to accomplish all the steps required to produce the catalog all while maintaining social distancing.
We have also made some changes in how we are placing orders with the artisan groups and the timing of their delivery to the U.S. from India. Instead of arriving in large batches, the products are coming in a steadier stream, accommodating the struggles faced by the artisans. Wherever possible, the fabrics are being made in advance, since our special hand-dyed materials take so much time to produce. As we get orders and can determine demand, the artisans will cut and sew, keeping the wait time to a minimum.
Therefore, we are asking you to place your orders even if you see that it is back ordered. When we see what is selling, the artisans will make the items that you are ordering. We know that this is a lot to ask, to request you to wait for your product if it is not in stock. But if you can give us a little leeway, you can be sure that we will all be working very hard to fulfill your order and provide income for the artisans. Our products are unique and well-made and are worth the wait!
From the bottom of my heart I thank you for your patience, understanding and support. These are difficult times for all of us, and if we work together, we can make things better.
--Pushpika Freitas, President