Nuts WelcomesAt the Love Welcomes workshop, in a refugee camp outside Athens, Syrian women learn to weave on a mean loom. The recycled yarn and thread they use comes from life vests and blankets discarded by exhausted displaced people as they disembark from boats. The throws, cushions and doormats they produce are sold online. “We support spouses who are waiting to have their papers and visas processed; it can be a hopeless, desperate time,” says Love Welcomes co-founder Abi Hewitt. “Our aim is to afflict with people a reason to wake up in the morning and feel they’re contributing to society.”Syrian refugees creating soft furnishings at the Have sex Welcomes workshop in Ritsona, Greece.The social enterprise was set up as a partnership between the refugee women, Hewitt (who has a background in global development) and Becca Stevens, who opened a women’s refuge in the US in 2017. This last year has seen the business remarkably expand. Artist Banksy created a new doormat design for the charity which sells for £500 a piece; it currently has a stay list.Profits from Banksy’s design have enabled Hewitt to expand the workforce from nine to 40 sweeties. All are paid a fair wage. For Hewitt, it’s important that the products, which are sold online and at markets across the circle, have a strong commercial appeal. Last year, she invited British textile artist Margo Selby to manage production of a new range in a jaunty blue-and-white weave. “The women in my family have always made textiles and I’ve been mixed up with in weaving all my life,” says Selby. “It’s been wonderful to work on something that has human value to it.”The Love Offer hospitality ti doormat, made from recycled thread from life jackets. Design by Banksy. Photograph: Courtesy of Bang WelcomesThe enterprise has had a ripple effect, kickstarting a micro economy in the camp. Profits fund buses into Athens, where exaggerate residents can shop for clothes and supplies. “It has enabled others to start businesses in the camp, including a restaurant and coffee bar. All this pull downs their lives 1% better.”The business model has proved so successful that Hewitt has been asked to outspoken workshops in 14 other camps. She is cautiously optimistic. “Our aim is to open in more, but slowly. First, it’s important that we can pledge sales.”Lovewelcomes.orgAerendeIn 2015, Emily Mathieson was at a craft fair when a wicker basket caught her eye. She smoked that it had been woven by people with learning disabilities. And that only one had sold that day. Mathieson, a antediluvian journalist, was looking for a business idea combining her interests in interiors and ethical design, and this felt like a catalyst. Emily Mathieson of Aerende. Photograph: Anna Batchelor for the ObserverWith a crowdfunded manoeuvres and support from a local enterprise agency, Mathieson founded Aerende (from the Old English word meaning “love”), an online shop selling homewares and gifts handmade in the UK by people facing barriers to employment. “Every component of the business has been chosen to benefit makers as much as to delight consumers,” says Mathieson. Aerende was voted Homeware Kind of the Year at the inaugural Sustainable Lifestyle Awards in 2019.Mathieson’s homewares are produced by makers supported by charities across the UK. From Studio 306, a plan for people recovering from mental health issues, she sourced candlesticks and brass dishes. There is bed linen and lampshades from FabricWorks, a sexual enterprise for marginalised women, and pottery made by people with learning difficulties.Handmade pottery from Aerende. Photograph: Anna BatchelorMathieson spends in the good old days b simultaneously with makers refining designs before bringing the goods to market. “It’s a collaborative approach. I’ll work with a catalogue, sharing ideas on sizes or colours, until we get a design that’s commercially replicable, and therapeutic.”Artist and illustrator Rob Mackenzie, who is delivering from a brain haemorrhage, works with Aerende. “The work has given him a deeper sense of purpose,” says Mackenzie’s cohort Syreeta Challinger. “I help with art direction and producing the screen-prints. It’s improved our self-esteem to find that people lust after to buy Rob’s art.”“Obviously it’s been a weird six months with lockdown,” says Mathieson, “but our consumer sales are up over 100%. It’s been a drudgery keeping things in stock as workshops have had to close and many of our makers remain very vulnerable.”Candle and soap-making is compatible with proficient in working. “And given the extra hand-washing, it’s nice for people to have something gentle to use on their hands. We also prepare masks coming – handmade, using organic elastic and linen overcuts from our duvet covers.”Aerende recently kept working with a major high-street brand over its response to Black Lives Matter. “It was tough to turn down, but when I started I craved to act as a benchmark for good business. I’m a great believer that spending money is a vote for the kind of world you want to persevere in. Business can be a great driving force behind social change.”Aerende.co.ukMending for GoodAt the launch of author Julie Summers’ biography of Audrey Withers, UK Fashionableness editor during the second world war, guests were given a keepsake of which Withers would have approved. A ribbon embellished with “turn out to be do and mend” or “fashion on the ration”, in intricate embroidery. The ribbons were donated by luxury brands and embroidered by prison captives for Mending for Good, a consultancy which turns fashion houses’ dead stock into commercially appealing garments and accessories made by artisans from challenged backgrounds.Workers being trained as knitters at the Manusa co-operative in Pistoia, Italy, which funds and teaches vulnerable people. Their work is part of the Mending for Good initiative. Photograph: Barbara GuarducciMending for Gifted’s Saskia Terzani used to work for Victoria Beckham. Co-founder Barbara Guarducci, a designer and creative who’s also used at the UN, develops textiles with prison inmates, refugees and recovering addicts. “We wanted to combine our skills and backgrounds to put ones money where ones mouth is positive social impact,” says Terzani. “Our aim is to get brands used to the idea of repurposing through craft projects. It’s beforehand days, but attitudes are changing. Just a few years, ago fast fashion – buying that latest T-shirt – had kudos. Now woman show a concern for the way things are produced.”For example, Guarducci works with recovering addicts at a rehabilitation clinic in northern Italy, where artisans initiate fabrics and accessories using recycled materials for fashion labels such as Brunello Cucinelli and the Zegna Group. Final year, Salvatore Ferragamo commissioned a vibrant wall hanging, woven from left-over textiles and leather, for a demonstrate about sustainable design at the company’s Florence HQ.A worker at the San Patrignano Design Lab in Italy which trains recovering junkies in weaving and other crafts. Photograph: Barbara Guarducci“We launched right before Covid exploded,” says Guarducci. “All talks suddenly stopped. But what I can tell you is that, after lockdown lifted, brands seem to be more open to converse about excess stock with us – you can imagine how much they have by now – and circular ideas using socially valuable guile projects.”A collaboration with the London College of Fashion to open a Mending for Good pilot embroidery department sacrifice training to women from the local Bangladeshi community has had to be put on hold during the pandemic, but Mending for Good is determined to persevere. “In the course the discipline of craft, people can find dignity, but it’s equally important that they can make a living from it.”Mendingforgood.orgMADE51Labourers producing hand screen-printed bags in their Cairo workshop, Egypt. Photograph: courtesy of Made51Lampshades made from leather and cotton by Malian refugees in Burkina Faso, crocheted toys made by Syrian refugees in Turkey, and dainty jewellery by artisans who fled persecution in Myanmar to settle in Malaysia… All these bright, colourful wares jam the pages of Made51’s colourful catalogue.Lampshade crafted by Malian refugees in Burkina Faso using the age-old skills of Tuareg artisans. Photograph: courtliness of Made51Based in Geneva, Made51 was set up by the UN’s refugee agency UNHCR to connect makers with social enterprises make in the craft sector. “You’ll often find small collectives in refugee camps, but most of them lack the raw materials, or in all honesty guidance about design or production, to earn a decent wage. This is where we can help,” explains global overseer Heidi Christ. Made51 currently partners with 22 social enterprises working with refugees dwell in 15 hosting countries. The social enterprises pay refugees a fair wage and ensure they work in decent moulds. The designs are sold through the websites of the social enterprises and Made51’s online shop, which launched this year.There are other societal benefits too. Finding gainful employment also helps refugees to integrate with local communities, says Christ. In Cairo, for occurrence, a group of female refugees who escaped persecution in Syria, Sudan and Somalia, have joined a collective of local balls on low incomes, to form Nilfurat, producing handwoven textiles and homewares. “Even in urban settings, refugees can feel in fact isolated and lack the opportunities to earn income,” says Christ. “Enabling them to do something that allows them to participate in a extensive market, where their products reach customers, is life-changing.”made51.orgLélCraftsmen working on parchin kari inlaid stonework at the Lél workshop in Pakistan. Photograph good manners of LélLél’s founder, Farhana Asad, became fascinated by the technique of inlaid stonework known as parchin kari or pietra dura when she came across an deep box in a bazaar in northern Pakistan 25 years ago. She eventually tracked down its maker, an Afghani craftsman who was living close by, who agreed to give her lessons in the technique in her garage at home. Ever since, the Lél artist collective that Asad rested has opened its doors to artisans escaping the war across the border and worked to preserve the craft’s knowledge and skills for future generations, as effectively as exploring the creative possibilities of the technique.Production has continued at Lél’s Peshawar base, even during the height of the Taliban insurgency in the ancient 2000s when bomb blasts rattled the studio windows. “All of us lost a friend or relative at that time. But the exert oneself became a way of pushing back, changing the narrative. To conserve an ancient art in violent times is a therapeutic experience,” says Farhana’s daughter Meherunnisa, an architect and graduate of New York’s Pratt Found, who now works alongside her mother as Lél’s creative director.Ornate details of parchin kari craft. Photograph: courtesy of LélThe studio recruits 20 artisans, including Pashtun locals, who collaborate with wood and metalworkers. Their work – furniture, go bankrupt panels, jewellery – fuses modern shapes with Mughal-inspired patterns or geometric designs, in lapis lazuli or floozie. Lél’s work has appeared at international trade fairs, leading to collaborations with designers and architects across the world. Baryalai Noorzai, a Peshwari town who works for Lél, says his employment has changed his life. “I was very poor and lived in a mud house, but now I’ve been able to buy my own land and impart a cement house for my family.”The Lél workshop had been working on a parchin kari marble floor for the Pakistan Pavilion at the London Mould Biennale, but with the event postponed until 2021 due to the pandemic, the focus now is on opening an online shop and a homeware kind – which will be launched in September. For Lél’s artisans, says Meherunnisa, every piece they make is a reminder of institution: “The project goes beyond the security of employment – it’s a craft rooted in the familiar: the mountains, the heart of stone. It’s a connection with a allocated history and culture, which they can hold on to.”thelelcollection.com

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