We sell premium quality, ethically made, fair trade kantha quilts. Call them whatever you want – kantha blankets, sari throws, “Indian blankets”, vintage sari kantha – all you need to know is:
I first heard about kantha blankets from Robin, a social worker by background, and her work in Dhaka, Bangladesh with women who were redeemed from sex trafficking (or removed from risk) and retrained to create blankets in the Bengali tradition of kantha.
I had browsed global handicrafts before without much interest; for me, most of them were interesting, but not what I would want in my own home.
But these kantha quilts were gorgeous! Unique enough to bring something new & different to my home, but not too unique, if you know what I mean…
I really wanted to buy one, but, living on a grad student income (read: savings) with our family of 4, I could not quite justify the indulgence. When my friend, Kathy, announced she was engaged, I knew it was the perfect excuse to buy one!
Kathy had been suddenly widowed several years before, while pregnant with her third child. Her upcoming marriage to an amazing man was a glimmer of redemption from the difficulty & sadness of the previous few years.
I loved the parallel. Here were two very different women – one Canadian fiancée, one Bangladeshi seamstress – living on opposite sides of the world, with two very different experiences. But, the heart of their story was the same: from hardship, adversity, and a lot of pain… to recovery, redemption and the beginning of hope.
What began as a desire to share a few of the sari blankets with other gals soon expanded to more and more and more of the very best quality, gorgeous kantha blankets!
Thousands of blankets later. . .
We are confident that our kantha quilts are the BEST quality of kantha blankets on the market, made in exceptional working conditions.
Our kantha throws are made with the highest standards of quality: the cloth is thick & supple, the hand-stitching is straight & consistent, the edges are finished & clean. In addition, the care & dignity paid to the artisan women is unmatched, exceeding fair trade standards.
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Tell me more. . .
Our kantha blankets are made exclusively by Basha Boutique in Bangladesh. Read all about Basha.
Child labour, human trafficking, child marriage, homelessness, and sexual exploitation are key risks for many women in Bangladesh. The women who hand-stitch our blankets have stories with one or more of these elements in her past, or was at risk of such in her future. But, there is hope…
After working through a training program with one of two NGO partners (or Basha's own, operating in a brothel district), each woman was hired by Basha where the work of healing, care, & healthy employment could continue.
Basha means “house” in Bangla. Asha means “hope”. Through dignified work, Basha is building a house of hope for women in Bangladesh. Women gain job skills and the opportunity to develop into leaders and entrepreneurs in a healthy, healing environment.
To be certified as fair trade, a business first has to qualify in its own country to the national fair trade network, then further by the international body. The application in Bangladesh was ~80 pages in length; each of these applications also carry a cost. As consumers, this is excellent news, as it means that not just any organization can be certified. But, on the business side, it poses a challenge for businesses like Basha who use all of their money to pay women's wages, and have few spare administrative hours.
At this point, Basha has been accepted into Bangladesh's local entity, Ecota Fair Trade Federation, and is working on their application for the WFTO. This includes attending training sessions and working on the application, all of which require time & money.
However, Basha has incorporated fair trade principles into their values from the very beginning. You can read here about the 10 fair trade principles and how Basha’s operations support each one.
dignify is a for-profit business, as is Basha. We are both trying to operate a sustainable model of business that has more than simple profit as a bottom line. But, as Robin, the founder & managing director of Basha, has said, "nobody's getting rich in fair trade textiles"! Especially when we value the full-life benefits that go above & beyond what is "necessary" as an employer.
The price of a Basha product pays for things like on-site day care, medical support, benefits such as an annual bonus & paid leave, ongoing education, as well as a fair wage to the woman to made it, based on local standards and cost of living. See a thorough list of what a Basha blanket pays for.