Take a tour of the Indian country fair from your living room. Experience the splendor of handmade crafts, meet the skilled artists themselves, see the exquisite textures of the intricately woven fabrics, and all the while support talented Indian artisans.
Named for the Hindi word for country fair, MyMela recreates a virtual shopping experience of the Indian festival and does it with class.
Sonali Mehta-Rao, the company’s president, who co-founded the company with her father and CEO Navroze Mehta, described her vision to The Epoch Times in an interview over lunch.
“Traditional crafts are being lost,” Mehta-Rao said. “Without access to steady demand and international markets, many master craftsmen have been forced out of their craft and
into menial jobs, just to survive.”
It was Mehta-Rao’s ultimate goal to create a website that would provide a sustainable model affording Indian artisans the opportunity to showcase their wares on the global market. It also provides them long-term viability through interest-free loans.
These loans enable MyMela artisans to purchase materials, make capital improvements, or train other workers. Meanwhile, the lenders earn back their loans within three months to be used as MyMela store credit with an added bonus of a 10 percent discount.
Mehta-Rao gained a unique perspective through her travels to West Africa and South America, as well as through internships with social ventures in India and the U.S. These experiences helped her formulate her vision for MyMela.
Mehta-Rao learned that there were profitable ways to help struggling artisans without resorting to handouts, which would only reduce their chances of gaining an economic foothold.
“My personal goal is to use every opportunity available to me to create opportunities for others who may not have been born into privilege but are no less worthy of the chance to succeed, to prosper, and to become the next global leaders,” she shares on the website (www.mymela.com).
MyMela teamed up with several nonprofit groups working to promote fair trade and fair-trade practices. Together they curate the merchandise from their many partner organizations, with a sharp eye for skilled artisans who produce a wide range of high-quality, handmade products.
Take for example the unique story of Chanda Shroff, a philanthropist from Mumbai whose interest in preserving classical embroidery techniques used by the women of Kutch, a district in Gujarat, led to the financial emancipation of many of the women in her employment.
Called Shrujan, the group now works with 16 different styles of embroidery done by 3,500 women across 100 villages in and around the Kutch Desert.
MyMela gives these gifted artisans continuity in their craft as well as opening a door to the global marketplace—something that they would not be able to do on their own.
These stories also form a vision of viable, sustainable, fair-trade shopping opportunities on a global scale.For those who wish to see the gorgeous items in person, MyMela will be holding a trunk show at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City June 22–24. It is a unique opportunity to actually take the live tour of the “mela.”
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