A Kantha Blanket's Journey

March 13, 2020 3 min read


Where does my kantha blanket come from?


I’ve written plenty about Bangladesh and how our blankets are made, and also some behind-the-scenes from the arrival of our shipments.

But, today, let’s join the journey with one kantha blanket, to give you a glimpse of the travels it takes from creation to enjoyment in your living room!

If you are concerned about health and safety of our products, my hope is that this will alleviate any worries. Feel free to email me directly at sjones@dignify.ca with any additional questions! :)

 

Everything begins in Bangladesh


Our production partner, Basha, has 5 offices throughout Bangladesh. As the kantha products are completed by artisans in the various locations, they are shipped (in bulk) to the central office in Dhaka.



Here, every finished cotton product is washed & dried in commercial laundry machines on the ground floor of Dhaka’s production building (the original sari materials used to create the kantha were also washed initially, prior to sewing). Silk blend throws are commercially dry cleaned.

As they are cleaned, all the items are packaged in large plastic bags: 10 classic throws/bag, 20 kantha minis, or 5 large throws. Those bags are then packed into shipping boxes with many packets of silica beads — those little packets that say “Do Not Eat!” — to absorb moisture and protect the blankets from humidity during the journey.


In fact, these packaging bags & silica beads are the only true waste byproduct of our entire production process. For several months of operations, and many hundreds of blankets, the amount of unrecyclable garbage produced (both in Bangladesh and here) is less than fits in one street-side garbage bin. 

These boxes are large: something like 53”x53”x53” (4.5 feet, squared).

 

Ready to leave the country

When all of the boxes of our entire order are ready, there are two ways that they might make their journey to us:

 

 

By Air

In this case, the timeline is approximately 1-2 weeks from when the boxes leave Bangladesh before they are in our office. We used to ship by air only, as dignify was just growing & we were getting a handle on our needs. But, air shipping is (as you can imagine) very expensive to send many 4.5ft2 boxes! So, almost all of our blankets now take a different journey:

 

By Sea/Land

A logistics (shipping) company organizes the details for us: picking up the boxes from the Dhaka office, organizing to fit them into a shipping container, sending them over the clear blue ocean to a Pacific port, clearing customs, then travelling by truck to our doorstep.

 


Then what happens?

For the most part, we have a margin of supply to cover the unknown, so when a new shipment arrives, we are still launching & selling blankets from the current supply on our shelves (unpacked from previous shipments). Once blankets arrive into our office, it is most likely to be 1-3 months before they are on the website, or would begin journeying to your home.

When we receive the boxes, how we manage the blankets depends on the current stock and our shelf space. If we have room, we will unpack the bags and stack the plain blankets on our shelves, off the floor. If it is a very large shipment (like we would receive in October), then some boxes will remain as they are — packed & stacked in our office space — until there is more space on the shelves.


We photograph every blanket individually and then stack them again on our shelves, with little return-address-sized labels with each blanket's "name" written on it. When a throw or mini is purchased, we pull it from the shelf, wrap it in a cardboard box, and send it off to you! Most parcels spend 2 days to 1 week in the mailstream — USPS, Canada Post, or sometimes FedEx Ground.

 

The timeline of the whole journey

Here's a recap:

  • Handcrafted by an artisan washed & waiting for shipment in BD (1 week to several weeks)
  • Travel across the world (2 months)
  • In box or unpacked onto the shelf in my private residential office (1-3 months)
  • Packed by our hands into a shipping box then via USPS, Canada Post, or FedEx mailing systems (1 week)
  • Arrival!


With this very direct supply chain, it allows us to use minimal packaging waste while still maintaining close control over the blankets — from a health & safety standpoint, but also because of the one-of-a-kind nature of our kantha. Many kantha sellers send products that are "similar to" the pictured blanket. But with dignify, what you see of our kantha blankets is what you get!

I hope that this assuages any concerns about viral infections, pests, or any other fears about our imports of kantha from Bangladesh. Comment below or message me through our contact form with any outstanding questions!

 


Leave a comment


Also in Shop Good Blog

The Slow, Complex Work of Saving Children

September 18, 2020 3 min read 5 Comments

(Photo courtesy of Friends of Basha)

Reflections from my experience visiting a Brothel in Bangladesh

As impossible as it is for me to believe now, earlier in 2020 I flew around the world. The primary objective was to visit Bangladesh and see, in person, the life-changing work in which dignify has had the privilege to participate over these past 8 years.

Read More
Time Out on New Input!

July 30, 2020 3 min read 4 Comments

A friend recently asked on Facebook for “the most challenging and enlightening resource you have read/watched about the problem of racism in America”. This question received numerous responses within the day: half a dozen films, dozens of books, podcasts, courses, and other hubs of information resources (as well as the astute reply, “Conversation”, which is, of course, the most relational and human of “resources”).

I think that this experience was shared by most people in early June (as protests & concerns over racial injustice had reached a critical volume): so many resources, so much to learn.

But now, 2 months later… what have we done with the magnitude of worthy, fascinating, perspective-altering information & insights that have been brought to our attention? 

And this it only in the area racial injustice. In other interests & concerns: How much do we know? How much have we learned & read & listened to already?

Read More
How to Live Generously

July 24, 2020 4 min read 1 Comment


Approximately 25 years ago (in March 2020), we did a customer/reader survey. I asked what you like to read on the blog & one of the respondents suggested a post on "living generously". What a fabulous idea and perfect for this time in history!


[The title of this post implies some kind of authority or expertise — ha! Nope, no experts here... just some thoughts on generosity from a fellow human, trying to make my way!]

Read More