If you’re looking for a way to contribute to the poverty-alleviation possibilities of the sharing economy this festive season – and beyond – then the Sari for Change project offers an uplifting, beautiful and impactful way to get involved.
Founded by Rayana Edwards in 2014, this initiative has grown from an initial call for the donation of unused saris for up-cycling into new garments into a skills development and entrepreneurial project with the ability to scale as it lifts people out of poverty.
The impact of Sari for Change is visible in the steady income it has provided for the women who have been up-skilled to produce garments out of its dedicated workshop in Northriding in Johannesburg. It is also apparent in the recent initiation of a training hub in Dobsonville (Johannesburg) where six women are currently being trained to join Sari for Change’s fashion line production.
Sari for Change has also partnered with the Laudium Women’s Network in the collection of high-end saris and as a way of expanding the project’s sales and marketing network. Sari for Change is further building a network of independent garment makers who use their training to work out of their homes – and recently began collaborating with Khulekani Kenneth of Negus, a Durban designer who has started a men’s range from the saris sent to him.
“Although our garments are beautiful and highly covetable for their unique African, Arabic and Indian aesthetics, we are aspiring for more than simply an ethical, sustainable fashion product,” says Edwards. “Sari for Change is providing an important service through training women in business skills and needlecraft to enable them to create their own employment. These women either become entrepreneurs, sole proprietors, suppliers of skills or distributors in our value chain. In this way, Sari for Change is about selling consciousness, connectivity and continuity”.
Sari for Change comes against the background of a global shift against hyper-consumerism and the desire by an increasing number of individuals to do what they can to reduce income inequality. One way of doing this is through supporting the shared economy – one that is built on community connections, the facilitation of collaboration and sharing of resources.
As part of what Edwards also calls a “sacred economy”, women from all over the world – primarily in India – contribute their gently worn saris or family heirlooms to women in South Africa. The journey of the sari continues once they arrive at Sari for Change: the saris are firstly sorted and cleaned and then the sari fabric is identified to determine the specific new garment it will become.
Women participating in this product creation are taught pattern making and completion of a garment with strict quality controls in check. Through mentorship and help in participating in business skills development and entrepreneur programmes, these women are journeying to become self-sufficient by eventually moving out of the project and becoming suppliers to Sari for Change and business owners in their own right.
Already this community-centred approach is attracting more participants. In 2020, Sari for Change is aiming to accommodate 20 more women in its Dobsonville training facility.
“We will need extra sewing machines, saris, cotton and a basic training kit for all of the women who will be joining us next year and so are making an appeal for assistance with this,” explains Edwards.
Although its intention is to impact unemployment and the inequality that persists in South Africa, Sari for Change is also gaining a reputation in the world of fashion. The project is recognised as a creator of beautiful garments that are made in a genuinely transparent, sustainable and non-fast fashion environment – and which creates a circle of meaningful interaction between the women who contribute their saris, the women who turn them into garments wearable in all cultures and the world of fashion.
Sari for Change has already walked two international fashion weeks – one with acclaimed South African fashion designer Thula Sindi at Paris Fashion Week and the second with SACRED (Sweden) at Italy’s Torino Fashion Week. These amply demonstrate the project’s ability to move into new markets – and link South African to the rest of the world.
“We really are a fashion brand with a purpose that is bringing together women who are aligned to a common vision,” concludes Edwards. “We would be honoured to have others join our journey through donating their saris and other fabrics, buying our garments, helping fund our training centre or partnering with us in entrepreneur training and business workshops. Sari for Change is based on the power of collaboration and we welcome all those who want to play a role in our sacred economy.”
To find out how you can help: contact Iman Ganijee on 081 8903095
You can buy Sari for Change garments from: www.sariforchange.com or at The Linden Market at the Botanical Gardens in Emmarentia on the 30 November and 1 December
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About Sari for Change
Sari for Change is the brainchild of fashion designer and change agent, Rayana Edwards, who wanted to do more than just give birth to a new fashion line. With 28 years in the fashion industry and drawing on her travels in the Middle East and various African countries, Rayana realised that the secret to any new idea is to have a unique selling point. Rayana identified the Sari as a fabric resource and the opportunity to repurpose the six metres of fabric. Her initial call for saris was made through the Art of Living, a foundation by the Indian spiritualist Sri Sri Shanker. Members were asked to contribute their saris to this development initiative that could uplift others out of poverty in South Africa. From that beginning, Sari for Change has grown into a project that’s a unique fashion business as well as training and mentoring programme.
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