Social Startups

Creative Handicrafts : Fairtrade for Producers and Consumers

Creative Handicrafts is not your typical fair-trade company. Most fairtrade businesses seek to market quality, handmade goods at above-market rates in order to maximize profits which are passed on to communities in need. Creative Handicrafts recognizes that ‘Fair’ trade involves both the producer and the consumer. Their goods are very reasonably priced and are of a very high quality, which is what makes them so successful.

Creative Handicrafts was started by Sister Isabel, a Spanish nun, in 1984 in Mumbai, India. Her congregation consisted of women who were poor and had no livelihood and were frequently subjected to domestic violence. To improve this situation, Creative Handicrafts was setup. They first began operations by providing services that would allow women to work, such as a creche and sponsoring school fees for their kids. Once women had free time, they were able to learn sewing and started making soft toys, clothes and fabric bags.

Currently, the organization runs 12 women’s self-help centres that employ about 300 women full time, and provide jobs to another 400 seasonal workers. They also have a training school teaching women the skills they need to work and become self reliant. Those that cannot sew for instance, are employed to provide catering to thousands of office-goers in downtown Mumbai.

The quality of finished products is strictly controlled. Creative Handicrafts knows that people do not buy clothes for instance, in order to help charity. They understand that clothes are bought for their quality, appeal and price. And all these aspects are closely monitored during the production process.

Global product distribution

The products manufactured by the women of Creative Handicrafts are sold for reasonable rates in local shops in India, in fairtrade stores in Europe, as well as in large retail stores around the world such as Carrefour in France and Spain, and Martha Traders in the US.

Johny Joseph the Director of Creative Handicrafts describes it as a fair-trade movement which makes not a few millionaires but many breadwinners and happy customers. We kind of agree.

Visit the Creative Handicrafts store at Bandra Homeland Co-op Housing Society (near Cheap Jack), Hill Road, Bandra (W); tel. +91 (0) 22 5572 7015 or their website.