Producers
    Information on Lotus Jayne's fair trade Producers

note: Lotus Jayne's Producer Information is included with each purchase but please feel free to print out any of this material.

Lotus Jayne honors brave Shirin Juwaley. Here is her story. Shirin Juwaley, acid burn survivor

"I am an acid attack survivor. In 1998, my ex-husband threw acid on my face as an answer to my request for a divorce. I have initiated an organisation called Palash Foundation (2011) that shall be addressing psycho-social rehabilitation and livelihoods for people with disfigurement. I have a Masters in Development & Human Rights (UK) and earned a distinction for my thesis “Does disfigurement lead to disability due to social exclusion?” For the past eight years I have extensively worked on projects involving children, youth and adults in the social sector where my core area of expertise have been life skill programme planning and implementation, capacity building and resource mobilisation.

RAJANA CRAFTS

Recycled Bombshell Jewelry from Cambodia

Lotus Jayne, LLC, has an exclusive agreement in the U.S.A. with Rajana Crafts.

    Bombshell used in Rajana jewelryPhnom Penh, Cambodia Chantha uses an acetylene torch to cut a series of concentric rings from the large "vase" of brass. The edges of the pieces will be polished smooth and intricate leaf motifs will be cut into the metal, following a familiar Khmer pattern found on Cambodia's greatest national treasure: the ancient temples of Angkor Wat. When they are finished they will be electroplated and shined to become beautiful bracelets sold both to tourists visitng Cambodia and for export worldwide.

    Making weapons into jewelry

    While the skills used to make them are certainly impressive, it is the unrevealed structure beneath that transforms the bracelets from mere jewelry into stories. In this case, the brass used for the bracelets was actually the outer jacket of a 155mm artillery shell, the remnants of war, unfortunately, that are as much a part of Cambodia's history as Angkor Wat.

    What has happened here has a kind of genius to its simple beauty. Etching the patterns of the ancient past alters the figurative patterns of Cambodia's more recent and tragic past into something positive: skills and incomes for victims of genocidal conflict.

    It is a kind of vertical integration of Cambodia's proudest and most tragic moments, resulting in something striking yet so infused with symbolism that its gravity should be palpable. Instead, it is flattering to the wearer and a small sign of resilience within a nation that suffered one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century.

    The Rajana Association, a local nonprofit group, was launched with this idea in mind. The United Kingdom's Southeast Asian Outreach organization provided the seed money and the initial training to create a program that would teach the poorest of Cambodia's poor, both rural and urban, some of the skills reflecting the beauty of their own culture. Today the organization is completely run by Cambodians.

    To many, the concept of preserving the culture seemed essential, since many Cambodian artisans were among the victims of the genocidal regime of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979. As many as two million people died, some murdered, others from the starvation and illness that resulted from the regime's policies. The genocide had more indirect consequences on cultural preservation as well.

Preserving Cambodian culture

    "Many people seemed to lose their faith after the genocide," says Rajana's Phnom Penh Project Manager, Kieng Sabay. "They didn't believe in Buddhism anymore or in some of the crafts and practices that are associated with the religion."

    Jewelry made from recycled bombshellsMany of these people are like Chantha, orphans full of promise but with almost no economic opportunities. "My mother died from illness when I was four years old," says Chantha, now 26. "My father died a few years later." With no family or money, the best he could have hoped for was to become a farmer in his village. But Rajana offered him the chance to learn how to become a silversmith when he was 17 years old. Nine years later, he manages the training and work of a team of silversmiths at Rajana's Phnom Penh location.

    This article (with a few edits made for space concerns) was written by Kevin Sites in 2006 for The Hot Zone Blog.


CAMBODIAN HAND-WOVEN SILK

    Cambodia is the only Asian country that still hand-weaves 100% of its silk.

    These delicate silks are based on highly complex methods and created on wooden looms set up underneath huts in rural villages, most along the Mekong River.

    Weavers use up to 2,800 threads in each yard of fabric and these remarkable scarves can take from one to three days to create.

    Head weaver in Prey Veang village where Lotus Jayne scarves are handmadeThe picture above is of the head weaver who manages the orders from Lotus Jayne and other retailers across the world. Fair trade has brought economic self-sufficiency to this village and the people now receive medical care nearby, education for their children, and regular orders which the entire village participates in producing. We watched the grandmas winding the skeins of silk thread onto spindles for the looms, talking and laughing as they worked. Child labor is strictly forbidden here yet the children look forward to training for a couple of hours a week when they become teenagers. They play near their mothers, secure and care-free, as all young children should be.

    Young adults still migrate into the city, but the difference is that with fair trade reviving village life, they can return with their families and make a stable life with dignity for themselves if they fall into hard times, rather than falling prey to sex traffickers or becoming beggars.

HANDCRAFTED SILVER JEWELRY FROM THE KAREN HILL TRIBE

    Deep in the Golden Triangle Region of mountainous Northen Thailand, the Karen Hill Tribe have been a nomadic people for centuries. Coming from China, tribal groups moved across Asia, practicing slash and burn agriculture. With the 20th century, the Karen were pushed into border camps, poor and exploited, forced into growing illegal cash crops like opium just to survive.

    Finally, through an effort by the Thai governnment and fair trade organiztions, the indigenous Karen began silver jewelry production again. The best silver and high-quality tools were brought to these Karen to lean how to make silver jewelry in their, the revival of their ancient traditions, long since lost. Training of these Karen tribes has been respectful and fair, with the result that the particluar fair trade Karen Hill Tribe Lotus Jayne works with sold its one millionth peice of jewelry in 2010 and has been granted the prestigious title of Master Silverworkers! This model of embracing well-made, unique handicrafts for today's homogenized world is a good one for many indigenous tribal communities seeking sustainability.

    .

    Fair trade partnering has also helped young Karen women want to stay in their village to learn a trade, thus protecting them form sex traffickers who prey on vulnerable, uneducated girls.

    The contentment and harmony with life, a far cry from past generations of Karen, is, we feel, evident in the subjects of their many silver pieces. Flowers, leaves, sea life, insects, and tribal symbols all seem to celebrtate a deep bond with nature. Although you may see Karen Hill tribe jewelry in shops across the USA, be sure that it has been produced in a fair trade workshop before you buy. Many non fair trade Karen groups are still underpaid and exploited for their skills. Your dollars to make a difference!

    TEXTILE WEAVING IN INDIA; KEEPING RICH TRADITIONS ALIVE

      Indian silk-spinnersIndia has a vibrant tradition of hand-woven textiles, based on a wide range of weaving techniques. Handspun cotton, wool, and silk threads give the fabric a rich and natural texture. Each region has a distinctive weaving style, with motifs and borders that reflect the culture and dressing style of the community. The weavers generally use pit looms, with 6-7 pedals below the ground level. The entire family is involved in different stages of production, from the reeling and spinning of the yarn to the dyeing and weaving. The looms are kept in their homes and both men and women do the weaving in between their other household and agricultural work.

      we carry a range of textiles from the following regions:

    • Uttar Pradesh - brocade weaving in silk with metallic thread
    • Kashmir - pashmina wool with hand embroidery
    • Himachal Pradesh - Kulu weaving in merino wool
    • Bihar - tasar, matka, and munga silk weaving
    • West Bengal - silk and cotton sheer weave
    • Orissa - ikat weave in cotton and silk
    • Gujarat - weaving with sheep wool