You can learn all about dignify's blankets, who makes them, and the kantha craft, but what is our own story? How did dignify originate?
It all began with a wedding gift.
A great story
I first heard about kantha blankets from Robin, a social worker by background. She had been working in Dhaka, Bangladesh for 5 years with an NGO serving women exiting prostitution.
The organization trained women to create blankets in the Bengali tradition of kantha, and they had great skill. But, Robin had identified a need not just for a program, but for ongoing, sustainable employment & support for the artisans. She was starting a social enterprise to meet this need: Basha. (You can read Basha's own origin story here...)
I had browsed global handicrafts before without much interest; for me, most of them were interesting or admirable, 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…
The perfect gift
I wanted to buy a kantha throw, but, living on a grad student income 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 (re)marriage to an amazing man was a glimmer of redemption from the difficulty & sadness of the previous few years.
A business is born
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 these sari blankets with other friends soon expanded to more, and more, and more (!!) of the very best quality, gorgeous kantha blankets!
Since our launch in 2012, we have sold tens of thousands of blankets, providing years of full-time, dignified employment to women in Bangladesh. Literally, hundreds of thousands of hours of good work!
We have heard countless extraordinary stories from customers about their own parallel experiences. Read some of those here.
Each week, our weekly dignify email gives a glimpse behind-the-scenes into our business, stories of the blankets, and conversation about shopping with intention and dignity. Join us!
Who am I?
24601. Kidding! I’m Shelley Jones. This is me ↑
I am 38 years old; I’m married to Wayne, and we have 3 kids in the middle years. I started dignify in 2012, during naptimes & late nights, with a background in marketing and a drive to create.
"Social justice" has never been my bent or driving force. What motivated me into dignify was the creating, building, the challenge, the business.
Over the years, I have softened and grown... my heart has expanded to hold more of both the beauty and the pain, the unbearable and the redemptive. I traveled to Bangladesh in January 2020 and saw the joy and need up close.
I believe that it's because of our focus on the business that dignify has been able to grow, and operate sustainably, over 10 years. We are still here, when many social enterprises, driven by charitable passion, have failed.
We humbly celebrate, and press on in this good work! (With coffee at hand ;)