Involve tailoring training and business development meeting international standards
whilst providing a sustainable livelihood for marginalised communities.
The Jacobs Well journey began in Mumbai in 1994, as an NGO-led exploration into meaningful employment opportunities for women living in slums and those vulnerable to different forms of discrimination, abuse, violence and exploitation. From tailoring to embroidery, pattern making, cutting and machining, the Jacobs Well project quickly grew, creating an in-house brand of products and setting up a further training and production unit in Bangalore. An intensive three-year training programme was established to improve quality and production skills; this met the needs of high-end brands within the global market, including Levi Strauss with whom we partnered for several years. The trainees began on simple projects including greetings cards, home accessories and bags until they developed the skills to work on more demanding products such as couture wedding dresses and home furnishing.
Jacobs Well grew from strength to strength and ultimately registered as an independent Indian company in 2012. The production house is based in Bangalore, south India, where we, FWH Creations continue to support the training of vulnerable young people from low socio-economic backgrounds. The team works confidently with independent designers and larger companies in both local and overseas markets. As the ethical fashion movement gains momentum worldwide, we have had the pleasure of working with brands from countries as diverse as Hong Kong, Ireland, Australia, Switzerland, the UK, USA and the Netherlands. As Jacobs Well continues to grow, new training and production initiatives are being explored and our hope is to set up partner organisations with the same high standards in further communities across India and Nepal.
Fair Trade; Having been pioneers in the ethical fashion movement more than 20 years ago, we are proud to continue playing an active part as more brands and consumer voices celebrate a fashion industry that prizes fairness at all stages of the production chain.With sustainable principles at the heart of our endeavors, our membership to the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) in 2009 gave Jacobs Well the recognised credibility to highlight our good practice. Jacobswell subscribes to the 10 Principles of Fair Trade and is a Guaranteed WFTO member. In addition to WFTO membership, Jacobs Well is registered with the Ethical Fashion Forum and they regularly take part in both virtual and in-person conferences and panel discussions as an established voice on production in India.
Most recently, Jacobswell have added our voice to the much-needed Fashion Revolution, an international campaign founded to commemorate the Rana Plaza factory disaster of April 2013 and push for a radically reformed garment sector that truly values its artisans. The annual Fashion Revolution Day encourages consumers to ask the question “who made my clothes?” and provides an opportunity for brands and producers alike to share more about the talented people who contribute to the making of each piece of their clothing. Do have a look through all the Fashion Revolution Day posts on our blog – we were thrilled to collaborate with several clients and shine a spotlight on our skilled tailors.
Currently FWH Creations is working remotely due to Covid-19 but we are continuing our work with tailoring training and business development by consulting over zoom calls.
Training Project In Nepal - Lilly's Leaves
FWH Creations is currently working with a project in Nepal based in Kathmandu called Lily’s Leaves. We established a relationship with Philip and Beverley Holmes in 2018 through a charity called ChoraChori. Philip and Beverley Holmes have worked for many years in Nepal and recently set up a UK based charity, Pipal Tree, of which Lily Leaves is a part. Read about them here.
The girls and women have some tailoring skills and Pipal Tree wants us to facilitate advanced tailoring training to develop their skills to a higher level thus enabling them to trade on the international market. We are using the success of the FWH Creations training to inspire and motivate their work.
FWH Creations is providing consultancy support to Lily’s Leaves in their product design for the tailoring production centre. Trainees may be in their late teens or young women who come from their target categories of abuse survivors (including trafficking victims) and those from “untouchable”.
This project and product development will be overseen by FWH Creations team Brenda and Molly, working through Beverley Holmes. The aim is to support the development of the products available for purchase through their online shop. This product development was planned to start April 2020 on the ground in Kathmandu but working with the challenges and restrictions of Covid-19 has meant this work is being done remotely until restrictions are lifted. We have regular zoom calls and continue to work, consult and guide production and design to develop their tailoring techniques.
Nepal has a wonderful collection of handwoven fabrics that can be adapted and explored for overseas clients, creating employment opportunities for the women and girls. We are looking to build even more connections in Nepal and support charities such as this.
Looms of Ladakh
FWH Creations is currently involved in an exciting project in Ladakh, Kashmir. The local women harvest the raw wool and spin it into a fine yarn which is then woven on hand looms to create a luxurious wool fabric. Ladakh is surrounded by mountains and because of the severe cold weather conditions for three months of the year, the weather makes it hard for the women to survive financially. FWH Creations was approached to support and facilitate tailoring training for the women so they can utilise their skills and produce high quality garments with their local material. This will achieve a circular and independent, sustainable production cycle. The women will be able to complete the production cycle using raw materials, sourced from their own region. This is good for nature, culture and their economy.
Currently we are providing consultancy at the first stages of the project; advising them on use of equipment and management of how to budget.
Using the experience of working in Bengaluru, with Jacobswell, we are excited to be able to develop and inspire local artisans to find longevity of their skills and create sustainable incomes, independence and long-term employment.
Check out there Instagram here.
FWH Creations has funded the training to Jacobswell since 2012. It has supported the work of Brenda Sheil our chief consultant, to train and develop Jacobswell through education in the field. Currently we are working with the team to create an exciting new collection of fashion apparel for the charity’s on line shop, assisting and adapting the patterns to accommodate our designs and for the international market.
In creating the collection, this project involves regular meetings on the sampling development, design, sourcing sustainable fabrics and trims, recycled packaging, designing graphic for labels and hand tags, understanding our target market and overseeing the consignments. All these skills involve excellent communication between the Fair Trade partners, factories and local artisans.
We also bring this experience to all our potential clients and projects. The sales of this collection is an additional way to support our charity and our ongoing work. FWH Creations also supports the school fees and medical bills for some of the employees. FWH Creations is currently the sole funder for all the tailoring training, computer and English lessons in Jacobswell.
We have established a working relationship with a project in Nepal, and Jacobswell is instrumental in developing the sample for their design idea. Jacobswell business structure is an excellent example that can be shared with other developing tailoring projects and Business initiatives. FWH Creations provides support, advice and direction for like-minded projects hoping to develop sustainable opportunities for marginalised communities and local artisans.
FWH Creations donated the funding for Jacobswell to apply to become an established member of the World Fair Trade Organisation. Jacobswell can now invite clients to apply for their Fairtrade label thus expanding the vision and ethos of FWH Creations vision to provide dignified and sustainable employment.
Jacobswell is an example of a happy, safe and caring environment providing many opportunities for those being trained to acquire new skills, build on their education and influence their family and the wider community.
After 20 years’ experience of working in India the plan is to support and advise existing charities and projects. We are excited to be able to develop and inspire other local artisans to find longevity of their skills and create sustainable incomes, independent skills and long-term employment. We plan to build further connections in Nepal with NGOs, charities and local artisans to enhance their existing skills so that they can trade on the international market. An important part of our plan is to encourage local artists to use their natural resources.