Mata Traders: Celebrating the Female Creative Power
We come in contact with clothing every day of our lives. From the pajamas we wear to bed, to the dresses and heels we wear when we go out on Friday night, our clothing is a way to express who we are. So wouldn’t it be great if there was a clothing company that not only cared about the end product but was also deeply connected and involved with the entire production process? An organization that would produce clothing pieces that you not only look amazing in but that you can feel amazing about wearing, because you know exactly who made them and where they came from? One company that does just that is Mata Traders.
What first started out as a round-the-world trip for three best friends soon evolved into the fair trade organization known as Mata Traders. When founder Maureen Dunn first visited India with her friends Michelle and Jonit, she was mesmerized by the intricate textile work of the artisans there. She first began importing everything from fabrics to leather shoes and soon realized that her buying habits had more power than she knew. It was then that she sought out fair trade producer groups to partner with, and from this desire to have conscientiously bought and crafted garments, Mata Traders was born. From having smaller workshops, to training their workers, to providing them with life skills, everything at Mata is intentional. Right down to their name which means “Mother” in Hindi and pays tribute to Shakti (the female creative power within all of us). At the very core of the company is the desire to be original, think globally, act compassionately, live consciously, and relish the adventure of life.
At the very core of the company is the desire to be original, think globally, act compassionately, live consciously, and relish the adventure of life.
Everything that is created at Mata Traders is intimately connected to the artisan that creates it and to the land and cultures of India. Unlike other textile factories where a person is just part of an assembly line, the styles at Mata are individually stitched by one seamstress until completion. And if the garment requires extra embroidery, that is often completed in the women’s own homes. Mata Traders wants every woman who comes into their co-ops to succeed--that is why they walk beside them every step of the way and ensure that they have the proper training. This training begins with hand sewing, then moves to simple machine patterns, and then eventually to mastering the sewing machine to create their garments.
However, it doesn’t end with the women simply learning how to sew. Through the cooperatives that Mata Traders is connected with in India and Nepal, the women who work with them are granted access to services similar to that of a social service agency. They have access to health care, paid maternity leave, retirement pensions, and daycare, all of which provide them with support and help to end the cycles of poverty for the workers and their families. The members also have access to literacy classes, computer training, and social workers who assist the artisans in more personal areas of their lives. The co-ops that these women are a part of when they become members with Mata Traders empower them to navigate their own lives and encourage them to become their own person.
The co-ops that these women are a part of when they become members with Mata Traders empower them to navigate their own lives and encourage them to become their own person.
The mission of Mata Traders is to “‘fashion a better world’ by creating designs that celebrate a woman’s originality and empower her to use her dollar for a change. We merge uncommonly vibrant style with fair trade practices to make an impact on global poverty – bringing fair wages to artisans in India and Nepal.” And you can be a part of this change, too! Every time you buy one of their products you are buying something that has been created from start to finish by an artisan who cares about what they are creating, and you are also helping to keep the centuries-old textile traditions of India and Nepal alive. Not only that, but you are also then contributing to fight gender inequality, empower women who live in slums and in poverty, as well as combat child labour. By choosing to partner with fair trade organizations in India, Mata Traders is able to ensure that no child labour is used in the creation of their products. And on top of that, by providing a stable income for the women in their programs they ensure that their children do not have to leave home to find work to try and support their family. There are radical changes happening in the clothing industry, and Mata Traders is leading the way in preserving local culture and empowering the powerless.
Shop Mata Traders below and check out this powerful video to find out more!
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About the Author
Katherina Toews sees the world mostly from between the ears of a horse, and wouldn’t want it any other way. She believes that there is nothing that can’t be fixed by sharing tea, chocolate chip cookies, and a good black and white movie with friends. Katherina is currently working outdoors helping people realize their full potential with the assistance of horses.