In India, our Darzis who make everything happen are often not paid nearly enough for their work. Their salaries are lower than 10,000inr ($134.50) a month which gets them a cot in a room with ten other people. A wage that is not livable at all. Likewise, conventional cotton production and synthetic dyes are incredibly toxic on many levels. Not only does conventional (BT) cotton need loads of fertilizer which poisons the land and the farmers who use it, the cotton also contributes to the farmers’ high suicide in rural India due to the debt they must take when using BT cotton seeds. Additionally, synthetic dyes poison our land and waterways, causing disease and death especially in rural communities.
Swiatlo is committed to working only with units that pay their labor a living wage so that they may have a dignified and happy life. They specifically seek out units which are run by women and employ women. For collaborations they only use natural dyes. They will also be working with organic (“desi”) and regenerative cotton farms for our textiles. Regenerative cotton farming is done in a way that works in harmony with other crops in order to revitalize the land. The way of growing is the indigenous method used before industrialization.
Switalo currently works with a woman-owned unit in Shahpur Jat, New Delhi which pays its workers well above an “average” salary for a stitching unit. Liz conducts weekly visits and loves the “family” vibe as the same darzis and handworkers have been employed there for years. The founder Vaishale is passionate about her employees having a good life, with a proper home and the ability to educate their children. She also works with small artisan tie-dyers in Delhi and Jaipur, supporting their natural dye businesses. Any work they do will only be with dyes that are safe to return to the earth- whether that is the excess dyes after the pieces are made or the pieces themselves years from now.
Empowering women workers
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