Artisan Spotlight: An Interview With Sujata Chowdhury. Wife, Mother, Kantha Artisan
To celebrate Fashion Revolution week and the importance of knowing #whomademyclothes, I talk to Sujata, one of our Kantha artisans. I met Sujata back in February, during my trip to India, where I had the fantastic opportunity of meeting the artisans who make our wonderful scarves and necklaces. It was the perfect opportunity to hear how fair trade has impacted their lives and find out more about the artisans themselves.
Tell me about yourself.
I'm thirty-five years old, married and have one child.
How long have you worked for this cooperative of women and what do you enjoy most about your work?
I've worked here for 12 years and enjoy it very much. I work four hours a day and then I go home and look after the family. If I need to I'll work at home in the evening for example if I have to complete an order. It's flexible and allows me to take care of my family duties. The best thing is having the friendship of the women in the group.
How has your life improved by the wage you earn?
I can say that for the first time, I can now save. I can also help my family, pay fees for my child's education. I like to earn my own money, it gives me independence. The more orders we get, the more money we earn.
Do you feel empowered by working for this women's cooperative?
Yes. working in a group of all women means we can share our problems. We are all friends and part of the same village, so we know each other very well. We visit each other at home and feel we can help each other if times are hard. I don't feel right if I don't come to work, I enjoy the work and the friendships we have. It's very important to me.
How does the cooperative help you as artisans?
They train us to ensure that the quality of the work we do is at a high level for the western market. They help with healthcare costs and provide loans if we need them. They have a group savings club too, where we all put in money on monthly basis. Every six months we can take money out if we need it to cover costs, pay education fees and so on.
What do you think about people buying the scarves that you have hand stitched?
I feel proud that people in the West appreciate our work, it keeps the tradition alive.
Do you have any hobbies? What do you like to do in your spare time?
I don't really have any hobbies, but I love to watch old Hindi films. I don't like the new Bollywood movies that are out now. I like the old, classic movies!
Do you have a secret crush, if so who? I promise I won't tell anyone!
Yes, Amitabh Bachan. (Laughs shyly)! Yes he's a bit old, but so what!