The products made by Purkal Stree Shakti’s artisans are characterized by careful attention to detail and lots of bright colors. In PSS’s store, you’ll find beautiful clothes, table-runners decorated with ripe strawberries, sling bags dotted with pink cupcakes, and bed covers depicting space adventures. But the brightest thing the PSS makers are building through their patchwork products is their own futures. And we are thrilled to have them on board with us at Faire.
The Dehradun district in the state of Uttarakhand is a rural corner of India. With a population roughly the same as Idaho’s, the Dehradun district is a collection of small villages polka-dotted across a provincial landscape. As such, employment and industry are limited in Dehradun––especially for women. This is precisely the issue Purkal Stree Shakti Samiti was created to face.
Founded by Chinni Swamy, PSS was built to combat women’s unemployment and to empower women through job training and business literacy. And they are making headway. PSS wanted to help foster a community in Dehradun that provided women with more employment opportunities, where they had agency through self-sufficiency, and where there were life paths for women other than early marriage. But they knew they had a lot of work to do. So, first, they picked a craft to specialize in: patchwork.
PSS train their artisans to make vivid, brightly-colored quilts, pillow covers, and other goods that reflect the uncommonly rich culture of Dehradun. While these products give the women of Dehradun a trade through which they can support themselves, PSS knew early on that learning the skill alone wouldn’t be enough—they needed to provide these women with opportunities to succeed beyond the craftwork itself.
In addition to training, PSS also provides its makers with simple but crucial healthy environmental support: a work space, free meals, and free childcare for their children. And, importantly, all proceeds from the business go directly back to the women themselves.
Many of the artisans who work with PSS are from income-starved households, so money brought in from their craft makes a significant, life-altering difference. Thanks to their craft, these women can now afford to clothe their families, and ensure that their children get solid educations that would otherwise be unavailable.
PSS aims to empower women to make quality products that can lift them from their current conditions and alter the course of their lives, and the lives of their children. The business skills learned through PSS show young women that they have a choice: they don’t have to enter an early marriage, and they can learn the careful craft of patchwork and become masters of their own destinies.