Almost two years ago, I was researching on natural dyeing and my journey brought me to meet a wonderful family in the hilly Jlamprang village that has been growing and processing the Indigofera Tinctoria plants for more than five years. It tooks me months to be considered a 'relative' instead of a guest, and the initial distance slowly eased as I lived in their house and traced the Indigo back to the field where they grow it.
I noticed that this slow approach that is based on human connection rather than the traditional donor-recipient relationship in development work seems to work, as slowly they began to share their challenges as Indigo farmers. With a little accounting work and numerous trips to the field, we uncovered that apparently they have been selling their Indigo paste at a loss as they never calculated their actual costs. The father, the mother and the son works every day but they never thought that they should be paid a labor cost.
This was the birth of our first initiative. Wanting to implement an idea that's been brewing in my head, we decided to provide training for three women from the village as artisans. The idea is, with the family as the host and program coordinator, together they can create and sell fabrics so they can capture more of the value instead of just selling the Indigo paste.
Today, there are thirteen women who joined our initiative - and three of them just had babies! Previously unemployed or assisting the husband in subsistence farming, they can now pursue economic freedom as an artisan from home while caring for their children. Our family home - Saiful's - that hosts the women was completely updated with a new ceiling and walls painted a welcoming orange – we almost didn’t recognize the place when we visited last month.
Life is good in Jlamprang - and as more and more women knock on the door expressing interest to join our initiative, we decided to scale our impact in this community by building a bigger facility that will provide space for up to forty women, a space where they can come together and learn the skills to improve themselves and their village: Rumah SukkhaCitta. (Rumah means home in Indonesian, and SukkhaCitta, as you know, means happiness).
Believing again in the power of community, we decided to create a new collection with the same name to fund raise for the building of this community center. Taking inspiration from the materials that we'll use to build Rumah SukkhaCitta, the collection is a modern interpretation of the traditional way of building houses in Indonesia: using Wood, Earth and Bamboo and designed by Leonard Theosabrata after his visit to the village.
Today, it is with honor and pride that I present the Rumah SukkhaCitta collection, embodying yet again the essence of our purpose: to make these remarkable artisans visible and make them feel their work is valuable. Each is #MadeRight, as always, featuring hand-drawn Batik, natural dyeing from plants sourced in the village, and the intricately neat hand-roll stitched edges (that took us six months to train!).
Proceeds from this collection will go directly into funding the Rumah SukkhaCitta (which is a big investment for us) - and we invite you to be part of this journey to drive change for artisans in rural Indonesia, one fabric at a time. Know that your support will have a ripple effect beyond today.