"Weaving a Future of Light" - A project to kickstart a social enterprise for a blind community
The Cara Brent Collection
This new line of elegant ladies' bags is the result of 8 months’ of collaboration with the D.F. Blind School, Kolkata, India. ACTSmarket team lived with the community for nearly 4 weeks, from design to prototype stage. Our team worked closely with the teachers and blind weavers.
The livelihood project was conceived to provide dignified employment to weavers who had difficulty finding work after finishing school. Driven by desperation, some were found begging at railway and bus stations.
Hand-knotted by Blind Artisans
Every Cara Brent bag is delicately hand-knotted by a visually impaired weaver from Kolkata, India. Knot by knot, they carry the hope of something bigger: a future of dignified employment. A chance to have a normal life.
Every day, they weave towards that future of light. The blind artisans weave Malai cords to form small knots, also called ‘flowers’. Each bag takes at least one thousand ‘flowers’ and twelve to fourteen hours. The result is a product of guidance, patience and hands of hope. You see, when they’re given an opportunity and a supportive community, they can accomplish what you and I can.
Guide them towards a future of light. So the path they walk will be bright.
All it takes is a simple act of kindness – shop.
D.F. BLIND SCHOOL
Since 1988, the school has done an amazing job to educate visually impaired children and adolescents in Kolkata, India. Most of their students come from an impoverished background and some were found abandoned on the streets in the past. The video shows that when visually handicapped persons are given an opportunity and a supportive community, they can accomplish what sighted people, like you and i, can.
At D.F. Blind School, about 165 students receive free braille education from grade 1-10 levels. Some live on campus, because their families live too far away or they are homeless. The older students are also taught vocational skills like weaving and craft-making.
When the ACTSmarket team visited them in 2017, they showed us about 20 designs of woven products. Only a few had international appeal.
The weavers do not have a properly equipped workshop or a production line. Orders were ad-hoc. The weavers only show up when there are orders. Our goal is to provide stable employment to these blind weavers, and to showcase their talent to the world.
The challenge is to train them to produce in a commercial way. The ways of commercial production and customer service are new to them. Training can be done in a day, but the mindset change and work habits take time to implement. For example, just getting them to produce every bag to follow the design drawings, can be a challenge. Quality control procedure has to be set up and rigidly implemented.