Anchal Project

"The empowered woman is powerful beyond measure and beautiful beyond description"

- Steve Marabolia

Anchal Project is a nonprofit that uses design thinking to create employment opportunities, services and products that support empowerment and women. They work with commercial sex workers in India to create kantha-inspired home good and fashion pieces. The women are trained artisans and they are empowered through sustainable education workshops, health benefits and employment. Starting with only twelve, Anchal Project has now trained 153 artisans to date. With alternative careers in textiles available, over 110 women now have the opportunity to earn their wages and leave the sex trade for good.

"Anchal" [ON-CHAL] means shelter and it is the edge of the sari that provide love and comfort to loved ones.

Just like Lauren Conrad, Urban Outfitters and America Ferrera, I was also inspired to join the mission after learning what it's all about.

Launched on October 12th 2015, Anchal Project's Living in Color Collection includes duffles, pouches, scarves and quilts that were made by using a unique, hand over dyeing technique. Each piece have been transformed by adding a layer of dye to the saris used to produce a new color. The original traces of the original pattern are preserved below the color, maintaining its beauty. 

I had a chance to ask the Co-Founder and CEO Colleen Clines about Anchal Project and the new over-dye process in their newest collection.

The unique hand over dyeing technique was discovered in search of something new that "could create a contemporary edge while preserving the rich patterns and the environmentally consciousness," said Clines. 

Because they learned more about the colors of dye practices and rich traditions in India, they began to experiment. What also attracted me to this technique is that Anchal Project's main motivator was the desire for darker blacks, blue and grey palettes which is true to my aesthetic.

"Not only do the subtle patterns of the original print provide intrigue, but the story behind each piece becomes more complex, making it a treasure for the maker and customer," said Clines.

Indeed, the new over-dye technique makes the story behind each piece become more complex and the story of this over-dye Black Infinity Scarf that I am wearing is something I treasure. I'm happy I get to know the woman behind this one-of-a-kind piece and be able to put a face to the gorgeous creation thanks to Anchal Project.

Her name is Mamta and she is 26-years old. She has been a part of Anchal for five years now. She is determined to finish high school and set an example for her children. 

These women artisans inspire and motivate Colleen Clines every single day. She says she has "watched these abused and vulnerable women become confident leaders for their children."

I find it as a beautiful irony because the Anchal Project also inspires and motivates these women.

Basanti, an artisan said, “I was a very timid person, full of apprehensions about everything. I felt I was a weak woman and everyone was looking at me with an intention of attacking me. But, its different story now, I discovered what I could do. I realized I was a tigress and not a sheep."

Narayani, another artisan said, "My husband tries to tell me that I can’t go to work. But I make the money now. So I say no, it’s my money & it’s my future.”

If these words do not inspire you to also join the mission, I don't really know what will.

I'm happy to support and be part of Anchal Project's story.

In collaboration with Anchal Project

Wearing the Black Infinity Scarf from the Living In Color Collection.

Photography by Allyza Umali.