International Women’s Day is Thursday, March 8th, and what better time is there to feature one of our women-run brands whose major focus is employing and empowering women? Meet Mata Traders, a Chicago-based apparel company that engages in fair trade practices to make an impact on global poverty, specifically in India and Nepal. Though not all of the artisans who work on Mata products are women, Mata does focus on employing mostly women so that they are better able to care for themselves and their families.
Mata Traders (Mata means mother in Hindi) was born in 2003, when the founder, Maureen, and two partners were traveling the world. During their trip, they spent 4 months exploring India where they developed a strong passion for the country and its people. Since then, the company has grown significantly and works with 6 organizations in India and Nepal who employ women in marginalized communities. Every woman who makes Mata apparel has a voice, whether they are a beginner sewer or production manager.
Not only is Mata empowering women and fighting gender inequality, they are also helping preserve traditional art forms. All products are handmade using techniques such as hand embroidery, block printing, jewelry making, and screen printing. Of course, creating handmade products produces unique and special articles, but it also celebrates tradition and craftsmanship.
When factory-made textiles became prevalent many years ago, printers and weavers in India and Nepal were forced to turn to more menial forms of work to support their families, leaving artisan skills that were passed down for generations to be lost.
Fashion doesn’t necessarily change the world, but it can make a huge difference in someone’s life. When you purchase an item made by a company like Mata Traders, you are supporting a brand that doesn’t just produce clothing and jewelry. The simple act of buying a dress or set of earrings by Mata Traders means you are helping: preserve an art form, fight gender inequality, empower women in India and Nepal, and combat child labor…just to name a few.
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