Read Time: 3 min.
Once Upon a Time in India
Once upon a time in India, two young aspiring designers went to school to pursue their passion for fashion and Artisan traditions. Over the years, they developed a special bond over their mutual desire to use their talents and resources to create beauty that changes the world.
It sounds like the makings of a fairy tale, but it’s a true story – the story of Akash and Rabia, our Artisan design partners in India whose workshop creates many of our leather and block-printed bags and accessories.
Preserving India’s Ancient Artisan Traditions
After graduating from design school, Akash and Rabia’s friendship developed into a business partnership. Together, they established a workshop committed to preserving the ancient Artisan techniques of India’s legendary craftsmen. Their “core” line of products combines the time-honored Artisan traditions of handcrafted leather and hand-carved block printed designs with modern function and on-trend styles.
Preserving & Protecting Artisans
As these two young designers began their business adventure together, they both felt that the Artisans who made their designs deserved to be as treasured and protected as much as the Artisan traditions they had committed to help preserve.
Akash and Rabia also recognized some of the challenges the Artisans and their families were facing.
Many of them had little previous income or savings. Many needed skills training.
Most did not have the resources to travel long distances to work.
So, Akash and Rabia began to design a workshop that preserved and honored both Artisan traditions… and Artisans.
Countering Sweatshop Culture
Determined to counter the sweatshop culture that often takes advantage of Artisans in India, Akash and Rabia took great care to offer protections, benefits, and opportunities that would empower their Artisans to provide their families with a dignified standard of living.
Akash and Rabia began to design a workshop that preserved and honored both Artisan traditions… and Artisans.
“Our belief is, as designers, we can only imagine ideas.
The true heroes are the Artisans who convert our thoughts into reality.
They make it happen.” – Akash & Rabia
“The crux of the matter is they are an equal partner in our journey.
And that’s how we treat them as well.” – Akash & Rabia
A Fairy-Tale Ending
As they shared their love for their artisanal designs and their local community, the two business partners became inseparable. When Trades of Hope Founder, Elisabeth, and Head Designer, Roxana visited Akash and Rabia in early 2019 and saw the special bond between them, they began to wonder if they might one day become more than friends and business partners.
Later that year, Roxana received an invitation to Akash and Rabia’s December wedding. Although Roxana was unable to attend their beautiful ceremony in India, everyone from Trades of Hope home team was overjoyed for the couple with big dreams and even bigger hearts.