Visiting the women of MarketPlace: Handwork of India

This is Liz from the the product development team here at the Serrv office in Madison. I have the wonderful privilege of working directly with our artisan partners in the development of our beautiful handcrafted products. Part of this process is going to visit different groups on occasion and work with them hands-on. Last spring I was in India and visited many of our partners. One group we met with was our long time partner, MarketPlace: Handwork of India. MarketPlace produces beautiful apparel and home textiles out of traditionally handmade Indian fabrics.

One very sweet lady at MarketPlace was Sema. She is one of the dedicated embroidery artists at MarketPlace. Each style they produce has unique embroidery on it and Sema is one of the few women who creates those designs and then teaches the other women how to do it. When we were visiting she came to the MarketPlace office, with her embroidery partner-in-crime, Meeta, to work with us on each Serrv style. Most days, however, she works from home and brings the clothing with her. She has a bag full of all kinds of beautiful colors of thread to work with that she totes along as well.

After working on the new Serrv styles with her, we went into the slum to visit some homes of the women at MarketPlace. They live in extremely close quarters compared to us, with much of their family, which makes for a very tight community. These women work together and practically live together. We visited the home of another MarketPlace woman named Nasrine and on the way we bumped into two other Marketplace women who also wanted us to come visit so we went around the corner to their homes next and ended up at Sema’s little home.

While there we met Sema’s lovely daughter who is in university now. Sema is very happy that she is able to help send her daughter to school, including higher education, because of her work with MarketPlace. She wants her daughter to have opportunities and choices that she did not. She has a son in university, too, whom she is also very proud of.

It’s always a privilege to be able to have personal experiences with the artisans and learn more about their lives. The women at MarketPlace were very hospitable and seemed very happy and proud of their work and the effects of that on their families. I can’t wait to go back and see how they are all doing.