Shakuntula is a key leader at Mata Traders. 19 years ago a friend of hers told her about Mata Traders and she arrived at the studio widowed and desperate to work. At this point she had no idea that she had the skills to work and was very aware that she was now a single mother.
The studio was also struggling and needed Shakuntula to step into a management role and help the studio and team to grow. Nervously Shakuntula did this and with the help of the team and the support of Mata Traders, she has turned the studio around.
Shakuntula says “since becoming a manager, I am confident and I know that I have control of my life.”Her work helped make the center into a profitable co-op to provide fair salaries and a healthy work environment. Now, Shakuntula looks out for the newcomers, remembering her own fears at the beginning. Her eagerness to learn and grow allows the team to take on challenging new projects. Shakuntula focuses on her future, saying “I will educate my daughter well and make sure she has a happy life, because I can educate myself too.”
In a society rooted in culture and gender norms, the women of India take a large risk of bringing shame and humiliation to their families when they break the non-conforming ways of life. India statistically shows a high percentage of women in the workforce (70%), while more than 80% of the women are considered working in vulnerable jobs, lacking protection of labor laws and fair wage agreements.
Mata Traders is a thriving fair trade organization based in India and Nepal and has been a Thistle Farms Global partner since 2017. Giving opportunity for success to local Indian and Nepali artisans stricken by poverty, Mata Traders helps these women artisans gain economic sustainability and empowerment.
Mata Traders currently has a beautiful new spring 2018 collection sold through Thistle Farms Global, spotlighting their varying technique and materials the artisans use to create beautiful jewelry pieces.