Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Support Rural Artisans in India By Shopping Tilonia

Ariel Clay in a handloomed 'wild silk scarf' from Tilonia 

This artisan-crafted, 'wild silk scarf' is made by the Avani cooperative and is available online as part of the Tilonia collection. I wore it to last night's festive Holiday Pop Up Shop and Party at the Gershwin Hotel in NYC.


Avani artisan weaving for the Tilonia collection

Tilonia is a mission-driven, social enterprise aimed at developing the entrepreneurial skills and business capacity of artisan enterprises managed and owned by artisans in rural India. This non-profit was named after the small village of Tilonia, which is home of the Barefoot College. Since 1972, the college has worked to improve the lives of the poorest of the poor by training them to become “Barefoot” professionals. These semi-literate women and men from rural communities become Barefoot solar and water engineers, architects, teachers, midwives and paramedics, thus creating their own solutions to meet basic needs for water, electricity, housing, health, education and income. Tilonia is replicating the “Barefoot” model by developing and working with cooperatives (such as Avani) to train Barefoot e-commerce managers who operate the web-based platform and online store, manage and sustain the enterprise, and enjoy the economic benefit of a successful business operation. 


Ariel visiting the Avani cooperative in rural India

I had the chance to visit Avani last October to spend some time with the local artisans. Avani is a voluntary organization based in the Kumaon region of the Himalayas in northern India, providing employment and educational opportunities to over 475 artisans in these remote mountain villages. The artisans use wild silk, Tibetan sheep wool, and natural dyes to produce elegant, handloomed textiles. Avani is one of only a few cooperatives that manages the whole process of textile production, from working with farmers that grow the silk worm, to dying and weaving the textiles, to then marketing and selling the final product. 



The Tilonia artisan collections feature more than just handloomed, silk scarves – they also offer luxurious block printed home textiles, colorful women’s accessories and gifts reflective of contemporary styles that are respectful of Indian craft traditions. We encourage you to bring the color and spice of India into your home by shopping Tilonia during the holidays. 

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