Given that I run dignify out of my home (and around my life of three kids), I always receive questions from friends, fans, & strangers about how exactly this whole thing works. Is dignify a franchise? Who sends the packages? Where do the pictures come from? Who gives them names? …and more.
I am fortunate to receive a lot of support in a number of ways from family & friends in our community, but dignify does indeed begin and end with me. Today, I will give a glimpse behind the scenes; specifically, into what happens when the kantha blankets arrive!
I receive the blankets directly from our producers, Basha, in Bangladesh. I am usually receiving 50+ cotton kantha throws as well as various spreads, silk blend throws, kantha minis, table runners, and other various kantha products. [Update in 2018: these numbers are now more like 200+ cotton kantha throws!]
They arrive in large boxes like this:
First stop: my living room. Regardless of what else I have to do in my day (get kids to school! Clean the bathroom! Buy groceries! and other similarly sexy activities) I pretty much drop everything and open the boxes immediately. Because the kantha blankets are made from repurposed sari cloth, each is unique, and I simply can’t wait to see what colours, patterns, and matches are in the boxes! It is like Christmas morning and I love it.
As I pull out the carefully folded throws, I look for any duplicates. Since saris are twice the size of our throws, usually the women can produce two throws from each match of saris. The twins aren’t identical, but close enough that one photo can represent both, so to save time & effort in the photography, I start by matching up any pairs.
Approximately 15 blankets in, I am utterly confused, certain that there are no matches, and that I will be taking one bazillion photos. Did I see this one before? Or was that last year? What does the back side of this one look like? Is this black & red one the same as the other black & red one?
The overwhelming beauty of the patterns has begun to melt my mind, and I typically end up staring blankly for some time.
Eventually, I sort it out and am ready to shoot them. I have some moderate experience in photography, so even though my gifted friends are much more skilled than I, I can muddle through it to produce some reasonable photos for the website.
But, what you don't see in the photos is what is going on around me! Generally, I have a chunk of time alone, I put on some loud music, and try to pummel through as many photos as I can in a short time. But, occasionally, because of time constraints or lack of childcare, I have to try and get it done with my pint-sized fan club.
Here is a photo I took of one of our kantha minis. I like to think that it looks peaceful and calm; like it's in a big empty gallery or studio of some kind:
Pan out a bit, and here is what's going on just outside of the frame.
Pan out even more and get a better idea of the whole picture! Fortunately, my daughter is very creative and is happy to play with what is essentially the packaging garbage. And, my son is a third child and, well, I just don't sweat the small stuff anymore ;)
This is the view if I turned to the other side of the room. Another 4-year-old make-busy project of laying out each of the new stockings.
With 50-100 throws to photograph at once, though, I have to be alone, or with a helper (of the adult variety). These photos are of the mid-way point of my last shoot; above, the blankets yet to shoot, below the completed pile:
Here is what you will see on the site:
This is what it looks like behind the scenes:
First, I try to get a photo of the kantha blanket bundled or folded in a way that will showcase as much as possible of both sides & all patterns. Then, I unfold the blanket to get wide shots & close-ups of the patterns on each side.
Occasionally, in spite of my best efforts, I don't quite finish before kids return. They usually try to sneak a teddy into the photos or play games dashing back & forth behind the blanket. I'm amused for about 8 seconds and then I kick them out. By this time, I am thoroughly exhausted: physically from bending, contorting, etc., and mentally, I am ready to move on.
But, who can stay mad at those faces...
I hope you enjoyed this glimpse!
We've listened to the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman countless times in my house (or, as my music app tells me: around 30), and the chorus of this song — "Never Enough" — keeps ringing through my head.
The song itself is about love (ie. without you, all the amazing things in the world will never be enough), but as we head into the busiest shopping season of the year, I feel like "Never Enough" is the battle cry of retail marketing.
“We don’t hire homies to bake bread, we bake bread to hire homies.”
I have often written about my love & admiration for Father Greg Boyle (Father G) and the work he has done with the gang population in Los Angeles with Homeboy Industries. It is not an easy thing to promote the dignity of people who have been involved in violent criminality, finding kinship in mutual love and respect.
This line — “We don’t hire homies to bake bread, we bake bread to hire homies.” — is a perfect description of the complex dynamic of running a business that is, at its core, motivated to employ a marginalized population.
For many of us — perhaps especially if you have kids in school, or an affinity for fall —, September is the perfect time for a fresh start. I wrote last week about my fresh exercise start after a summer of indulgence!
Whether it is the new calendar year, or a new school year, milestones offer a great chance for fresh starts. I think it is a fantastic time to dream about what will be different, what systems can change & improve, and how to begin well.
But here we are, mid-way through September, and I want to offer another thought:
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