A Letter from the Founder of Mata Traders

  • Maureen Dunn
  • 01 Oct, 2015
India is the kind of place where a Mercedes Benz will pull up next to an ox cart at a stop light, and a man in an impeccable suit will lean out to ask directions from the ox cart driver, who’s not wearing shoes. The suit will cost more than the ox cart driver makes in a year, but the two men, for one tiny moment, will chat with ease about directions before slipping back into their separate worlds.
Our journey with ‘Mother India’ began in 2003, when Michelle, Jonit, and I, best friends since college, spent 4 months traveling the subcontinent on a round-the-world trip. Some people discover yoga in India - I found my zen shopping the markets. I decided to make yearly buying trips, importing everything from antique wall hangings to leather shoes. As my business blossomed, so did my understanding of the poverty that exists for much of the population. I realized that my buying power could make a difference, and began seeking out producer groups that pay their workers fairly and practice the principles of fair trade.

Within a couple years, Michelle and Jonit joined Mata Traders as partners. We now work with 6 organizations in India and Nepal that educate, employ, and empower women in marginalized communities. Spending time with these groups has helped us realize that even the most traditional women, when given the opportunity, thrive in a sphere of meaningful work. We’ve seen that equality in the workplace is possible in a country as socially stratified as India - whether a beginner sewer or production manager, all the women that make our clothing and accessories have a voice. We are so proud to be a part of that voice by bringing their quality handiwork to the socially conscious, stylishly adventurous woman.

founder, Mata Traders

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