At the heart of being woman-centered
Sabith and I embarked on this journey led by the presence of the women in our lives. We continue to be inspired by our mothers’ persistence, dedication and commitment toward others as well as the admiration, love, and respect that we feel for them.
Women and girls all over the world are the bearers of unpaid labor and work. They are caretakers of children, partners, and other family members including middle-aged and elderly adults– women artisans are no different. Women artisans not only provide this care but are oftentimes responsible for the economic stability of their families too.
We founded tlali•pani, a women-centered brand, to honor the contributions that artisans make but especially those of women artisans. We have specifically and intentionally sought out artisan families with women in leading roles so that their creative work continues to be valued and they can continue this work with dignity– paying them fairly at the price that they believe their work is worth.
As a women-led, women-centered social enterprise, our celebrations are not limited to a single day or month but happen every day. Nevertheless, this is an occasion for us to pause, reflect and continue to express our gratitude to the centuries of women whose courage and determination paved (and continue to pave) the way for future generations. It's an opportunity for us to think critically about what we do and our role in taking on obstacles that stand in the way of the women we work with.
Those of you that know us personally, know that we are researchers and educators at our core. If you've been following along for a while, you know that since we've launched, we've been collecting stories from artisans (our own as well as others) to understand their experiences and perspectives in doing what fills their hearts.
On this International Women's Day, we'll leave you with a few quotes on how it feels to be a woman artisan:
— Doña Isabel, her family's creations can be found here.
"It's really motivating when people like our work. It pushes us to keep moving forward and continue producing pieces. There are lots of young people out there that are exhausted and uninspired because of poor practices from middlemen or people expecting close to nothing for our artisanal work. These young people say, 'it's just not worth it for what we receive. It's [physically and emotionally] tiring work that takes lots of time and effort and we just don't make enough.' We try to motivate them by saying that it's beautiful work and knowledge passed down from our ancestors that we cannot forget that. We just have to hope that we'll be paid fairly."
— Doña Macedonia's daughter, her family's creations can be found here.
"Being an artisan is emotional. Being an artisan at the moment that you are working on a piece is really about being in the right state of mind. Weaving makes us see how we are feeling at that moment and what we are going through– especially if you step on the wrong petal [on the loom], you start wasting threads and you cannot move forward. You really have to be calm so that the beauty of your work shines through."
— Doña Blandina's daughter, her family's creations can be found here, here, and here.