A very Special Story
Pelagona’s founder Liz first met the “Crochet Women of Bangalore” while visiting a school of a charitable trust on her trip to India in 2019. Chitra and Anitha, two amazing women with crochet expertise, had started a group to teach women crochet. Three times a week, the group met to work on crochet products at the facilities of the trust in a slum of Bangalore. Most of the women are the mothers of the children attending the school of the trust located in a slum of Bangalore. As many of them do not have jobs, the families depend on the trust for education and food for their children.
Liz was visiting the school and the group happened to have one of their sessions. Chitra and Anitha teach the women in person how to crochet. These in-person sessions are so important because the women cannot read or write, or sometimes even count. Hence, it is not only about learning crochet but also about acquiring these basic skills and guiding them through the crochet process. Through these sessions, the women not only acquire a valuabe skill but also have an additional stream of income for their families through the sales of the products. Furthermore, meeting in person for the sessions also allows the women to discuss current issues and challenges and help each other out.
Meeting the crochet group was more than just an accidental encounter and Liz immediately saw the fit for a collaboration between Pelagona and the crochet group. Pelagona started to partner with the Crochet Women of Bangalore at the beginning of 2020, right before the start of the pandemic. As the group is mostly made of mothers, Liz decided to focus on children’s products. Several products, ideas and designs were tested out.
Unfortunately, nobody could anticipate what 2020 had planned for us and the crochet project was heavily impacted by the pandemic. Like many countries, India went into lockdown in March 2020 which meant that the group could not meet anymore. Many families lost the income of their sole breadwinner as companies across India let their employees go. In a slum with limited space, social distancing is almost impossible.
Knowing that in such difficult times a sustainable income is even more crucial, Chitra and Liz tried to work on a solution. The first challenge was getting the supplies. In India itself, the yarn markets were closed due to Covid and the selection online was very limited and expensive. Sending wool from Europe was not only financially unfeasible but also logistically – all over the world mail providers either suspended their international services or only offered limited services. The mail between India and Austria was suspended, then private companies such as DHL, Fedex or UPS made international shipments possible and reliable (but also more expensive). Hence, sending yarn from abroad was out. After thorough research, we managed to find a supplier of wool which came up to our high quality expectations.
As the women could not meet, we had to resort to online teaching. Which is, in the case of crochet, not an easy task. As we work with women in a slum, a good video internet connection and devices had to be guaranteed as well. Chitra went out of her way to teach the designs and make this first collection happen. It took a lot of time and effort from her side and also the women. But the challenges were not yet all overcome. Sending the products out of India was as challenging as getting supplies in for the longest time. But in the end, we managed to do it and we could not be happier to have this very first collection of baby blankets and toys on our shop.
Purchasing these products not only makes good presents but is so much more, especially in times like these. The women depend on additional sources of income to feed their families. What had been a challenge before Covid has now become even worse. Your purchase contributes to a sustainable income for the women, their families and their communities.
Pelagona was started because Liz wanted to make an impact and help change the livelihoods for artisans around the world. Since the pandemic, the necessity of projects with such an approach has become even more apparent and we thank you for your support of our project in Bangalore.
For Mothers by Mothers
Your purchase empowers female artisans and contributes to a sustainable income for the women, their families and communities. The members of the "Crochet Women of Bangalore" are all mothers – made by mothers for mothers.
Ethical and Sustainable
Pelagona partners with family businesses and artisan collectives and prioritises organisations which empower women. We ensure safe environments in which their knowledge and skills are not only preserved but also taken to the next level.
Handmade in Small Quantities
Instead of mass products Pelagona focuses on selected, hand-picked items. We order in small batches to ensure quality and tracing of materials of our handmade products and to celebrate their uniqueness as well as the traditions which inspired them.
We use the highest quality materials for these cute children's items - 100% merino wool, 100% organic cotton or 100% baby cotton for the exterior and 100% organic cotton fill (interior).
All items are handmade.