In honor of our launch of the limited edition backpack we created with The South Tribes, I thought I'd share the story of how I met the founder of The South Tribes, Jamila.
July, 2016 (before I even officially launched Go Dash Dot) I embarked on my first biz trip for Go Dash Dot. And what better way to set out on my first venture as an independent business women than with my Mom and Dad in tow. Have no fear, they were introduced as my sales manager and financial advisor.
Before I go into further detail of the biz trip, I’d like to take a second to talk about a different trip that truly inspired and encouraged me to keep going with this business venture- a family trip to India, Christmas 2015. Oddly enough, perhaps even by fate, our tour guide in Udaipur, located in the state of Rajasthan, was actually a fashion designer by trade and owned a clothing store in the town center. Our guide/fashion designer, and now friend, Suresh, introduced me to the idea of working with women cooperatives, which allow women to learn and perfect a skill, usually in the traditional craft of their region, build confidence, and earn a living for themselves. Partnering with women cooperatives seemed such a perfect compliment to my brand. So part two of my mission for Go Dash Dot became: find women cooperatives. Let me tell ya – google isn’t the answer here.
Thanks to a class I took at FIT, Collaborating with Artisans, (yes another fortuitous situation that a class such as this is offered, not to mention at the exact time I was looking to connect with artisans) I learned all about collaborating with artisans and the difficulties I may face while working with them. However, the amazing opportunities you bring these women and their communities are worth the time and effort.
So, back to my business trip – I found myself in Santa Fe, NM for the International Folk Art Market. Our first night in Santa Fe, it seemed the whole city was buzzing about how incredible this market is, and now, I can say first hand, I completely agree. I met so many strong, talented, and inspirational people from all over the world. One of them being, Jamila.
Jamila was born and raised in Kyrgyzstan, but came to the US for college. After graduating from Hunter college, she returned to her home country and started a women’s cooperative called “The South Tribes.” Her cooperative is comprised of over 30 women who make traditional Kuzak patchwork, embroidered hats and home decorations.
Included in the home accessories were beautiful tassels that are traditionally hung from ceilings, door knobs, and hooks in Kyrgyz private and official homes. Only two women in Jamila’s cooperative know how to make these tassels, which is a multi step process and takes about 20-40 minutes to make each one (depending on the size). These tassels immediately caught my eye and were tied around the handle of my bag before my financial advisor could remind me to ask about costing. The tassels add so much color and life to our bags, in addition to providing that handmade feel that is so often lost in the fast fashion market that has become the norm.
The cooperative was founded just two years ago and has been growing. It is my goal to continue to work with the women of The South Tribes cooperative to include their beautiful handiwork to our bags.
You can read more about the women and how tassels are made on our website!