Basha Boutique is the name of the organization in Bangladesh where all of our beautiful products are made.
Yes, *all* of our products, every item of kantha we sell. This was... ill-advised by our banker. But, a personal working relationship, excellent partnership, and the literal best quality products have kept us together for nearly 9 years! dignify is yoked to Basha, and we have zero regrets.
If you've been around dignify for a while, you've heard plenty about Basha and likely have a good familiarity with how they (and we) operate. But, if not, here is a bit more context!
Basha is a business (a "social enterprise"), HQ'd in Dhaka, Bangladesh, with ties to the United States, as the founder is an American (but has lived in BD for 15+ years).
Basha produces goods and sells them to dignify (among others) at a wholesale rate. Retailers like dignify then prepare, market, and sell the artisans' products to customers like you!
Basha arose because there was an excellent training program at CUP which transitioned women from living on the street, or working in formal or floating sex work, into a caring, safe work environment with practical, artisanal skills... However, there was no ongoing opportunity for employment. Women needed the dignity and the sustainability of a job, not just "program" participation.
Robin had been living in Dhaka and working with CUP for many years, and saw this need. She launched what is now known as Basha Boutique, in the upper floor of the CUP building, to meet this gap. We are so thankful that she did!
This week, Basha celebrated a decade of this good work — the business of life-change, fresh starts, dignity, and (of course) blankets. Read these reflections, shared by Basha in their own words.
"Happy birthday to us! Ten years ago for the first time, 13 women made the journey upstairs to the three rooms where Basha started. The distance wasn’t far, but leaving the training programme where their lives had changed so much and stepping into an unknown job was frightening. There were tears.
The women’s lives had changed, but they were not easy to employ. We saw how many layers of need they had, and gradually added new ways to support them on their journey. We started providing education every day so women could practice their reading and writing, learn to budget and eat well, maneuver this world better, and express feelings through art, music and dance.
We expanded our daycare activities, adding education and daily meals, usually serving more children than we have women working for us. We started new production centres and currently have five in areas with particularly high trafficking.
Through our non profit initiative, Friends of Basha, we also started training and rehabilitation programs allowing us to expand to additional communities known for trafficking and prostitution. We took over the children's home from one of our partners. We opened a women's home for those who need a safe place to live while they get on their feet.
It’s been an amazing journey.
We are learning how to improve every day… both how to improve our products and how to improve the way we work so that the women and children can truly heal and flourish. Thanks for the ways you have journeyed with us in so many ways including buying Basha products, donating to our programmes, or by volunteering."
Robin herself has further shared, "If I'd known how all-consuming Basha would be, I might have run the other way!"
She goes on, sharing in a scrapbook of volunteers over the years,
If I'd known how all-consuming Basha would be, I perhaps would have run the other way ten years ago. But it cannot be disputed how powerful it is when vulnerable women and children have dignified work, safe space, education, and opportunities for their children.
Basha has always felt like stepping into something so much bigger than me. From volunteers to our leadership team to to advisors and donors, to each and everyone who works at Basha now and worked there in the past, God has pulled it all together into something beautiful.
I can't give enough thanks to those who appear in these pages and those who don't as well. Soli Deo Gloria.
Powerful, indeed. We celebrate the beauty & success of Basha's story, of which you are a part, even by reading these words! Cheers!
Some favorite summer recipes of mine, for you to try & (hopefully) enjoy. Let me know about your successes, or your own faves!
This is a motto I've been replaying lately in my mind.
For me, one of the *necessities* to sustain energy for this work is to embrace joy, celebration, & fun. But this year, those things have felt pretty elusive. The past 16 months have enriched the depth of my close friendships and have brought maturation & focus to my time; these have been invaluable gifts!
But... I feel like I need to learn all over again how to have fun!
Here are some of the ways I've been thinking about, or practicing, fun lately. I would also love to hear about how you find joy & energy to recharge for everything else that life brings at us!
I’ve written before about taking the time to think about our spending habits. We are in a particularly unique situation in this current moment; in March 2020, there was a dramatic interruption to our everyday spending and consumption habits!
Some patterns have remained interrupted over the year. Some rhythms are, or will be soon, returning to a closer resemblance to pre-covid. Regardless of our specific situation, interruptions make great opportunities to re-assess! Do my choices reflect my desires, my values, my priorities?