Bangladesh Artisans

It’s no secret that the commercial tanning process for leather is hazardous. Not only is leather tanned with compounds that are harmful to the environment, but this chemical process is also damaging to the health of the people working in the leather production industry.

Yellow purse

Many of our bags, purses and wallets are handcrafted using eco-leather by makers working with the Craft Resource Centre (CRC). CRC is a fair trade resource and marketing centre in India that tans their leather products without using harmful chemicals. In other words, instead of using azo dyes, formaldehyde and other harmful substances, eco-leather is tanned using environmentally-friendly materials derived from sustainable tea bark extracts and waxes.

Indro at Ten Thousand Villages store

Indro Dasgupta is the director of CRC and we were fortunate to spend time with him this past spring. During his visit with us, he outlined the eco-leather process. He explained that since the government in India has banned the use of cow in the production of leather, CRC eco-leather products are made with water buffalo. The water buffalo are first used for milk and meat, and then the skin, which would typically be considered waste, is sold to CRC for the production of leather. In other words, no animals are killed for the purpose of making leather. CRC is simply upcycling the waste produced by other industries.

Leather hide drying

Indro also explained that after the raw hide is collected, it is tanned with eco-friendly materials on a drumming machine and then it’s set out to dry. Once the leather is dry, it is then waxed, shined and sprayed. Finally, the leather is assembled into beautiful purses, wallets and bags.

Mallika

Mallika Manjari De is a quality checker and packer working with CRC. She is 28 years old and has been working with CRC for almost two years. When asked about how her life has changed since working with CRC, she said, “Life was difficult. I found it difficult to make ends meet. Now, I am able to buy necessities for my home.”

Brown purse

Eco-leather is more than a fashion choice; it’s a way to better the environment and improve the lives of people like Mallika. Browse our handcrafted eco-leather collection online.

Necklace and earrings

Thankfully, most Canadians have never experienced war. In Cambodia, however, people are still healing from the destruction of the past. Years after the Vietnam War and the Pol Pot genocide, Cambodia’s countryside is still littered with bomb and artillery shell casings. Reminders of war are everywhere, and healing is an ongoing process. As a way to heal from the past, the makers of Rajana Association use these reminders of tragedy and transform them into beautiful pieces of jewellery that are wearable symbols of hope, peace and strength.

Sovann

Van Sovann is one of the jewellery makers working at Rajana. He is 38 years old and has been working with Rajana for 20 years. When asked what he wants to share with Canadians, he said, “Thank you very much for your support. When you buy our products, it provides me with the ability to take care of my family.”

Van Sovann

Rajana Association

According to Sovann, it takes six people to craft one piece of jewellery and depending on how complicated the design is, three to four pieces of jewellery can be made in one day. First, the recycled brass casings are sourced and collected from a village nearby. Next, using an acetylene torch, the casings are cut and assembled into earrings, bracelets and necklaces. Then, symbols of hope and peace, such as doves, are engraved into the metal by hand. Finally, each piece is polished and shined. Sovann enjoys welding and assembling the pieces of jewellery.

Each piece of jewellery is a symbol of hope, peace and strength. By transforming symbols of war into symbols of beauty, Cambodians like Sovann are supporting their families, healing from the past and looking forward to the future.

Browse our handcrafted bombshell jewellery collection online and wear these symbols of strength wherever you go.

blog-top-imageFor more than 20 years, Pantone has surveyed New York Fashion Week and previewed the most important colour trends for the coming season. For Fall 2014, Pantone selected 10 colours that “Transcend Time and Place.”

Interestingly, the selections of colours are probably not the typical colours you are used to seeing for this time of year. The Executive Director of the Pantone Colour Institute explains: “This is a season of untypical colors — more reflective of the imagination and ingenuity, which makes for an artful collection of colors and combinations not bound by the usual hues for fall.”

I decided it would be fun to create a few looks based on this colour palette with some of my favourite accessories here at Ten Thousand Villages.