Industry Views October 2018

Anchal: Making A Difference Through Artisan-Crafted Goods

 

A growing sector of home textiles is artisan-crafted goods. Anchal (sales@anchalproject.org, anchalproject.org) is a non-profit social enterprise that creates products and sustainable employment empowering exploited women. Currently, it provides careers to women in India and Louisville, KY. The eco-friendly products in contemporary designs are hand-stitched from vintage materials, certified organic cotton and low-impact dyes. The products are sold via its website and through retailers. Natalie Hugon Smith, marketing and public relations director for Anchal, shares insights.

Will the current consumer interest in hand-crafted goods continue to grow?
“As worldwide consciousness shifts attention to integrating more holistic and environmental actions into our daily lives, it is vital to recognize everyday systems that can become more sustainable. We believe there is a strong movement rising in socially and environmentally conscious products because the public is demanding a change. However, there is a long road ahead.
“Our programs are unique and the products created are held to the highest standard of quality. We dedicate time to perfect our crafts and do not compromise to demands of the market. Our customers believe in our mission and we have cultivated a community of brand loyalists. Once people discover our company and meet the team behind it, they are hooked.”

How large can an artisan-based company grow?
“Using design thinking to include our artisans in every step of production, we are able to insure that our designs and overall growth are scaled to meet the skill level and ability of the women we work with. There may be some limitations within a city. However, the need for sustainable female employment is great around the world. When we reach capacity in one place, our goal is to expand into other locations.”

What is the greatest challenge the company faces?
“If we had to pick one, it would be brand awareness. We are constantly trying to find new ways to reach a larger audience with our project and mission.”

Photos: Anchal was established in 2010 by Colleen Clines, co-founder and ceo, and three college classmates who learned about the extreme oppression some women in India faced. Colleen (shown top with artisans in India) was joined by sister Maggie Clines in 2012, who serves as Anchal’s creative director. (Above) Maya certified organic cotton bedding. (More on Anchal in “The Art Of Adaptation, pages 18 to 25.)