philanthropy is hugely important to us at MIRTH. in the trifecta of ideas that first formed this business (a life of travel and slowing down + creating something lasting and beautiful + giving back), we wanted to focus on creating our product, but never wanted to loose sight of this key component that's crucial to doing anything with our time: we must give back. why? to keep us grounded, and to always remain a company that spends energy on doing something that matters and affects lives in a positive way. this is what keeps us going. it is the core of what spurs creativity and honest hard work. we think this is a better goal and end sight than the bottom line.
social entrepeneurism or conscious consumerism has been around for a while now and companies like us are joining the movement every day. i saw lauren bush lauren speak at sxsw a few years ago. during her talk, i felt like the floor was taken out from under me. it had such an impact and struck an inner chord so deep that i left with the clarity to see this had to be part of my path. she was a pioneer in this movement. hearing her speak from the heart about how she started FEED gave me the inner push to know i wanted to-- and would, darn it-- attempt to follow in her footsteps.
fast forward to bagru, india, outside of jaipur. this small village is a major hand block printing hub of india, and is also known for natural dyes and indigo dying. the word "hand" is key-- block printing is done on a more commercial level elsewhere, but here, the entire process happens in the same way it has for generations.
deepak chhipa (of the chhipa printing caste that makes up the majority of the town) is our guy. his family has been block printing for four generations. after seeing fellow printers in his co-op begin to gain international clients, and hence develop more business for the entire community, he decided to do the same with his family's workshop. these printers have begun to share their incredible work online and attempt to market their talents to the world-- straight from the source. they educate those who find them about the artistry involved in their work, ensure ethical standards, and help the community wherever they can along the way.
last year when we made the trek to bagru to source for our first collection, we were lost on a dirt road in a mustard field trying to find deepak's workshop. turned out it was his mustard field, luckily. we see deepak running-- more like sprinting-- down a path, waving his arms to flag us down and direct us to his shop. we were enamored with deepak from first sight.
our initial conversations with him about working together evolved to him mentioning his efforts with education in bagru. he started a school open to children of all castes in the community with the goal of providing a fun place where kids wanted to go on their own accord. the school runs for a few hours each day, and serves as supplemental education or some, and the only education of the day for others. there are many schools in bagru, but one major issue is that many parents don't require children to attend-- so they don't. by proving a school with a meal, indoor plumbing and a safe & positive environment, the goal is to for children to come because they want to. and it is working.
this opportunity to give back directly to the community we work with on many of our fabrics fell into our laps. just like we hoped it would. it found us.
supporting this effort was an easy decision.
the naam dev school has grown already-- it was first run by deepak's sisters but now employs professional teachers. but it is outgrowing it's walls, which are currently a room within deepak's workshop. the next project is to build a permanent building on land that deepak has donated. this is where our donation of 5% of profits from the sale of each caftan goes.
we won't pretend to be leaders in attempting to eradicate poverty or improve lives in this area. many others have spent more time in bagru and have deeper understanding of some of the problems there-- healthcare, hygiene and safe water sources, to name a few. others have done incredible work on all of these fronts and continue to do so. but we are doing something we feel makes a small impact from afar. we are contributing in a way we know how-- with knowledge and resources we can share. our goal is to expand this effort, and ensure our financial and professional support is effective and impactful, however that takes shape the more we work with and visit the people of bagru.