Over the past 12 months Ive been working with Shannon from The Dharma Door, a small fair trade company based in Bangalow NSW. Together we have developed a range of Cloth storage sacks in collaboration with a group of artisans from Bangladesh. I was interviewed by Karen McCartney about the collaboration and this is some of what I said –
‘I met Shannon at a trade fair in Sydney a couple of years ago. We had adjoining booths. I loved her paper products, storage bags and her personality. All three things were natural fresh and lovely. She and her products and her ethics all seemed to go together well. Authentic, trustworthy, real. I am drawn to people like this – and I have really enjoyed developing the working relationship with Shannon and her partner, Mick over this past 12 months.
‘I’ve always wanted to develop a fair trade product, but didn’t really want to do it on my own. I produce all my own textiles locally – for 20 years I’ve been working with small scale manufacturers here in NSW so I have not developed contacts with producers oversees. Over the years I’ve understood how it is good to partner with people who share your passion but have different skills and experiences – true team work that has good potential for longevity works best for everyone I think. I believe if you focus on the things you love and are good at them and work with others who do the same, things fall into place. And they did, the Dharmas have been great to work with. Their focus over the last 10 years has been to source and work with artisans who produce high quality products in small batches from impoverished communities in Bangladesh. Shannon travels at least twice a year to be amongst the makers and has seen the communities flourish, in particular she has been around long enough to see the younger girls staying at school finishing their education, marrying later, delaying having children, having more power in their lives. The Dharmas have built up a trust and a great working relationship with their makers and it showed in the products. So for me getting involved with Shannon from a design perspective is working at my best. Along with every one else working at their best we together produce the results we want easily.
This first range is a ‘best of Cloth’ – a group of our best loved geometric designs chosen because they work well on the Dharma door products. They describe the Australian landscape in the form of symbols and motifs that themselves were drawings taken from my sketchbooks. Each design has a story attached to it too. Boardwalk ( the striped one) is about the erosion of the coast line – specifically the sand dunes and how we should always be mindful to walk on the boardwalks when we are at the beach. Wollemi ( the diamond shaped one) is a close up of the cone of a Wollemi pine, the most ancient living tree in the world ( which just so happens to live in my ‘ hood up in the blue mountains). And Thatch is based on a weave and texture of bunch of sunroom chairs and I found on the streets and have now in my home. Each design has its own story and each story is rooted into the Australian landscape and my own experience in one way or another.’
These three sacks are my favourites. They are big and roomy and versatile. They can hide a mountain of clothes that won’t make it back into the wardrobe or fabric samples that defy sorting. They have become my favourite way of ‘putting things away’. For the full Cloth & Dharma Door collaboration click on Dharma Door website . And for the next week we are having a special promotion about the collaboration with Temple and Webster. Click here – Temple and Webster Cloth Dharma promotion to see more.