Justin Beiber Fan and Karate Kid- Rupa!

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I recently gave my tenth grade exams and I have a long summer vacation ahead of me. I’ve been keeping myself busy with the summer workshops at MarketPlace. So far I’ve participated in an art competition, a craft making session and I also got to watch The Karate Kid! The Armaan Club arranged the film screening for those of us who have been learning karate for the last few months. I love that I have been able to learn a useful skill and it makes me proud to tell my friends that I have such an interesting hobby. All girls should learn karate for self defense! My friends and I no longer feel scared walking on the streets because our reflexes are pretty well trained now.

In a few months I will be in junior college studying science. I am passionate about computers and learning new software programs like Microsoft office. So my natural choice for further studies was computer science. I hope to become a software engineer soon and follow my dreams! My family has been very supportive about this and they always advise me to get more information about my career choices and speak to experts in the field.

One of the things I hope to accomplish before school opens is learning guitar. I love everything to do with dance and music. Justib Beiber is my idol and absolutely adore the way he sings!

 

 

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Authentic Kalamkari Worth the Work

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Sometimes it isn’t about efficiency. Sometimes it’s about taking the time and trouble to create something truly special. The ancient Kalamkari process is very complex and time-consuming, involving up to 17 steps of hand block printing and dyeing with colors and mordants derived from local plants and minerals. Once prized by sultans and Europeans alike, Kalamkari fabrics suffered from the introduction of machine-printed textiles in the 1700′s.  But the secrets of the technique and the dye recipes were retained by the families in South India for whom this was their traditional livelihood.  Today there is a new appreciation for things that are natural and hand-crafted. Our authentic Kalamkari fabrics have a mellow and enduring beauty that can come only from taking the time to do it the right way.

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Meet Artisan Priyanka Medhe!

Priyanka Medhe, 33. Sahara Cooperative

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I gave birth to a child almost 10 years after I got married. This is a big issue in our society and I was subjected to taunts and insults for years because I hadn’t produced a child. Neighbors and relatives would advise my husband to leave me and marry someone else. This was obviously very traumatizing but I was lucky to have a good husband who supported me and in laws who were considerate. I now have a 5 year old girl and I have great dreams for her.

I was only able to go to school till the 7th grade. When I was 10 I started working part time at a small toy factory. Our family was very large so we had to work to support the household. I would go to school for a few hours and then skip the rest of the classes to work. This went on for a couple of years and I finally dropped out of school. I remember someone had offered to put me through nursing school if I finished 10th grade. But I was a silly girl and at the time I didn’t see any value in studying further.

My husband does not have a permanent job- he does odd jobs in the transportation industry sometimes or works as a cook for big events and parties. So his income has never been very regular. I used to work in small tailoring shops in the nearby slums and would earn a little to supplement our income. But since I came to MarketPlace my income has become stable and I am now responsible for our household expenses.

In the last 4 years, since joining MarketPlace, my self confidence has increased remarkably. I used to be very shy and couldn’t even get myself to speak to people. In the beginning I would be very scared of performing in plays with the artisans. But I find myself less and less scared each month and now I volunteer to take part in plays and other activities. I hope someday in the future I can start a tailoring workshop, employ women like me and make a difference in their lives.

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Shraddha’s Plans for the Summer and Beyond

(Shraddha Gupta, 15, years old, daughter of artisan Malati Gupta, WARE. )
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I just gave my 10th grade exams and am on vacation for the next 4 months till we start junior college (11th grade). I am going to study Commerce for 2 years before I start college. I have a pretty clear plan for what I will do in the next few years. I want to study Business Management in college with a few internships thrown in.

I think the real world experience will serve me well when I look for a job. I want to intern with a big name like Procter & Gamble because there are so many people who are unemployed, and I want to give employers a reason to hire me. Eventually I want to start my own business in something that has a lot of scope in the market.

I think the only challenge for the next few months will be to overcome the boredom of the long summer days. It’s usually too hot to go outside and play so we spend our days indoors. At night we play football in the field next to the house with other kids from the Armaan Club and some of the neighbors’ kids.

Recently some boy passed an annoying comment when he saw me playing football. He told me that I was a grown up girl and shouldn’t be playing with kids all day. I asked him if there was a book in which there were rules for what girls can or cannot do. A lot of people have an opinion on things I do, but my parents are very open-minded and I just ignore the rest.

The Armaan Club also has some exciting things planned for us this summer. There are a lot of courses on offer for us to pick from- crafts, beautician etc. I have chosen a 4 month long beautician course and I’m looking forward to the experience.

I really really wanted to learn how to play guitar this summer, but learning any musical instrument is very expensive. A few kids I know want to learn the guitar as well, and we’re still looking for a cheaper option.

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A Sneak Peek at MarketPlace’s Spring Collection!

Check out our new line featuring vibrant colors, authentic block prints and, of course, versatile, flattering, and breezy fits perfect for warmer weather! Keep an eye out for our new line on March 8th at  www.marketplaceindia.com and express yourself this Spring with MarketPlace products!

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Rock a Tunic from MarketPlace!

MarketPlace tunics have the style and comfort you need for any occasion!  Be creative and bold by rocking our Mandya Tunic with leggings, jeans, or silk pants or our Misha Tunic with its beautiful chindi button detail paired with  salwars or tights. You’ll love the way you look in MarketPlace’s versatile and unique fabrics that make our tunics easy to wear and a distinctive item in your wardrobe. Different silhouettes include A-line, straight, sleeveless, three quarter sleeves, and long sleeves. MarketPlace has the style and comfort you need for any occasion!  And for limited time only, enter promotion code 47D10 at checkout to receive 10% off your order.

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13 Events to Remember in 2013!

2013 has been a very eventful year for all of us at MarketPlace. Here are some of our most memorable events: 

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1. MarketPlace in Mumbai inaugurated a training cell as many women are approaching us for jobs. Although a number of community development organizations in the slums conduct sewing classes for women, they are not teaching the women how to sew efficiently and earn a good living. In contrast, this training cell is giving them the skills to become self-sufficient. 8 women were trained in 2013 and are now working with different cooperatives.
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2. In September we held a two day meeting bringing together the fabric suppliers and the artisan groups. Normally the groups that make the fabric come to Mumbai twice a year to discuss design, colors, production and delivery. Fabric supply is always a challenge. At this meeting, we had the opportunity to hold brainstorming sessions to discuss various problems and work out solutions for them.

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3. Our Armaan Club kids reached the semi-finals of a city-wide soccer tournament! The Armaan Club, consisting of daughters and sons of the artisans, played games every Saturday under a program conducted by Magic Bus, a non-profit organization working with children to inculcate values, discipline and confidence.

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4. The young girls and boys of the Armaan Club started Karate Classes every Saturday morning. Because there is so much violence in the city, particularly against women, we felt that this was an important lesson.

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5. The Armaan Club kids went on a one-day picnic to an amusement park and had the time of their lives!!  They do not normally have the opportunity to visit such places and it was so wonderful to see them take advantage of almost every ride.

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6. The Pushpanjali Collective decided to celebrate Navratri, a nine-day Hindu holiday, together. The women artisans see their cooperative as their family and have many group events such as  going for picnics, celebrating festivals, etc. For their Navratri celebration, the Pushpanjali artisans decided to chose a color for each day. Green was the color of the day here.

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7. Artisans’ Day is so popular it is now celebrated twice a year! Preparations go on for weeks and the entire event is organized by the women themselves. On the big day(s), each group enacts a skit, sings a song or does a dance.

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8. In March, 2013, Indira Johnson, a renowned artist from Chicago, worked with the women on a project entitled “I can’t; Yes, I can!” She and the women explored and discussed things that women in India have been told from childhood that they cannot do and then talked about things they were doing despite tradition. After the discussion they made flags representing overcoming these obstacles and marched through the streets.

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9. The artisans took part in a city-wide social action protesting the corrupt ration system. Rationing was established in Mumbai in 1968 with the purpose of providing essential commodities to needy residents at reduced rates. Unfortunately, the system has become very corrupt and the Ration Shop owners are instead selling the wheat to profit-making companies like liquor breweries, an act which is not only selfish but illegal.

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10. The MarketPlace and SHARE staff and managers of the cooperatives were treated to a one-day picnic at a water park. Water parks have become big recreation destinations in Mumbai but are a bit expensive. The package included breakfast, lunch and snacks all day.It was such a great bonding experience and everyone stayed until the very last minute – until the park closed down!

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11. Kirit Dave visited the United States. Kirit is a well known designer who has worked with MarketPlace since the beginning. He visited the New York NOW trade show, SERRV International, and also met with customers and the member of theMarketPlace Board.

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12. Kala Darji, the Merchandizing Manager in Mumbai, came to Boston to visit her brother and his new baby. We took this opportunity to invite her to Chicago. Unfortunately it was November and when all of us were saying the weather was so nice at 45 degrees, she was freezing to death!

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13. In May, Pushpika Freitas represented MarketPlace at The World Fair Trade Conference in Brazil. This is a bi-annual event and an opportunity for producer groups and marketing organization to discuss the challenges of Fair Trade and express visions for the future.

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