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Celebrating the Life of Asha Bharat Kamble

This past Sunday we lost a dear friend and artisan partner, Asha Bharat Kamble. She lived in Miraj, India and worked alongside friends and family in a weaving group in a Hansen's (formerly known as leprosy) colony. She did sewing, pressing, and organizational work despite suffering from internal damage caused by Hansen's Disease. (Her heart was not strong enough to do the cardiovascular work of weaving.) She was also an expert in making sure everyone was served delicious chai in beautiful teacups which kept us going through the day. It's especially hard to lose someone who is still so young and full...

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Visit to a Refugee Montessori School in Jordan

(Trigger warning:  Children who have experienced violence) Sitting among beautiful slabs of olive-wood in a Jordanian workshop, our design team finalized details for serving trays and other home goods for our sourcing partners. We only had a little time before we had to part ways and head for the airport. Work had slowed down a bit because everyone was tired. Two of the artisans suggested we take a quick break to get some coffee and walk across the street to visit their children’s Montessori school where they’ve attended since 2012 when they fled their home in Syria and came to...

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Whiskey Neat and Pretzels Please

It’s 4am in Minnesota, and I would be sleeping if not for the buzzing of this tireless mosquito. Since the light on my phone isn’t doing much to lure the little buzzer in, I text Rachel. Rachel’s in China where it’s 5pm. She’s finishing up her third straight workday with Eli’s team of sewers and technical designers. They’re making remarkable progress. I want to see the samples via Skype or Facetime, but communication is still limited, so we text. I get a reply from Rachel immediately. "I heard you should use a match to draw the mosquito into the flame....

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Pretty Colors Will Save the World

We’re standing at the workroom table going over a Meridian Lee bag design. My focus is on clean lines and function. You know, important things like how many 3 oz TSA approved bottles does it take to hold a bottle of wine. Hmmm.   Hanna, one of our bag makers, is leafing through a book of swatches. Her hands come to rest on a kinda loud, metallic blue pattern. I’m not reeeeally feeling it. But she probably knows something I don’t know. So I force myself to pause and consider it. Isn’t collaboration about respect?  Isn’t it about the ability...

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