We're often asked how we find the products we stock, and the honest answer is we've always just bought the things we like. We hope that our customers like them too and trust our taste and the way it evolves over time.
This also means we have a long list of products we like but either haven't got round to buying or are waiting until it feels like the right time to offer something new to our customers.
Maison Bengal have been on our list for well over a year, if I scoured through our archive of new stock (the screenshots file on my phone) it's probably a lot longer.
And then we read this on their Instagram...
"In order to minimise financial losses a number of western clothing brands have cancelled or suspended £2.4 billion in orders with Bangladeshi garment factories, leaving thousands of vulnerable women with no income. In contrast, as a fair trade company our bottom line is our commitment to our producers. We are looking to the future, designing new products together."
If ever it felt like the right time to add a new brand to our collection it was now and at the same time spend our money where it really helped make a difference on a wider scale.
Maison Bengal is a fair trade and ethical company set up in 2004 to help fight poverty in Bangladesh, working particularly with mothers and young women.
Director Sheenagh Day returned from living in Dhaka in Bangladesh, after a number of years working in the aid industry. Impressed by the traditional artisanal skills of weaving and basket making she came across in the poorest areas of Bangladesh, she decided to create a fair trade company in order to provide a market for marginalised communities. Using only locally grown natural materials she developed a comprehensive and stylish range of products with close collaboration from local fair trade organisations.
"We work very closely with three fair trade organisations in the country, each one best placed to identify the most marginalised communities in their area and provide training in handicraft production."
Maison Bengal works with each group separately to utilise their locally grown natural materials and develop their renowned traditional skills. This combined with contemporary designs has allowed them to produce a comprehensive range of handwoven products.
Maison Bengal now works with over five thousand women throughout Bangladesh, happily able to work in their home environment. Enabling them to care for as well as financially support their families.
The Mothers and young women Maison Bengal work with have been happily working from home since 2004. They've got their #wfhstyle down and are making it work for them and their families. Maybe they could give us a few pointers?
Here are just some of the stories Maison Bengal, with the support of their customers are proud to have helped shape over the years.Education In all the communities Maison Bengal work with, producers are now able to send all their children to school. Parents now have enough money to pay for books, pens, shoes and uniforms. All the mothers they work with are particularly keen to make sure their daughters have the best education possible, giving them greater life choices.
Rita Odhikary is a young woman from a remote village in Southern Bangladesh whose mother Pashful has been weaving baskets for Maison Bengal for many years. As a teenager, Rita helped her mother by producing the jute plait which Pashful then skillfully sews together into the desired shape. The money she earned doing this, she spent on additional tuition. Rita graduated from college and is now studying political science at Dhaka University. She hopes to become a teacher.
Small out patient clinic Since 2007, Maison Bengal has funded the running costs of a small rural out patient clinic. Providing vital basic medical care to a remote rural community, who previously had to travel over twenty miles to the nearest health facility.
As well as all that and much more importantly, they make amazing bags.
Check out our new range of Maison Bengal Jute Macramé Bags in the NEW ARRIVALS section in the menu at the top of this page.