I was excited to head back to Bangladesh in May 2020, to introduce my nearly one year-old twin daughters to their Bangladeshi family members, and translate my social enterprise vision into reality.
Then COVID-19 happened…and like the rest of the world, my plans had to change.
I knew I had to start testing the market as soon as possible. The last thing I wanted to do was raise expectations among the mothers I’m partnering with that I wouldn’t be able to meet if Khushi Kantha can’t find any customers!
So I created a first collection of blankets with support from an incredible group of volunteer stitchers. They received the seal of approval from local kantha expert Surjeet Hussain and we conducted safety testing before selling them through an online auction. The funds generating enabled me to keep going and start figuring out how to establish production in Bangladesh.
By April 2021, we were finally ready to get started!
We launched a rewards-based crowdfunding campaign on International Mother Earth Day, raising over £10,000 from 217 supporters (117 of whom pre-ordered a blanket) to create our first collection of Happy Blankets.
Proudly made in Bangladesh
Launching a social enterprise operating between the UK and Bangladesh during a global pandemic has been a challenge, to say the least!
But I am so proud that we have successfully completed our first collection of Happy Blankets, which has involved:
Creating over 1,300 hours of work for the mothers we partner with;
Supporting another struggling rural artisan community, by commissioning hundreds of yards of 100% cotton yarn to be hand-dyed to match our colour palette (named after the mothers who stitch our blankets and their children) and hand-woven into traditional handloom fabric by our lovely fabric supplier;
Breathing new life into over 1,000 yards of donated ‘deadstock’ cotton fabric from the Bangladeshi garments industry, by upcycling as the inside layers of our blankets;
Producing handmade design templates for each of our four embroidery designs, which we print onto the fabric using natural indigo dye, to guide our stitchers;
Hand-stitching more than 200 re-usable cotton bags, crafted from upcycled vintage saris, which our Happy Blankets come packaged in;
Designing and printing the labels we hand-sew into our blankets, which feature the geo co-ordinates of the village where our blankets are made, along with a unique blanket number and the hand-embroidered name of the mother who stitched the blanket;
Creating packaging inserts featuring the individual photos and stories of the mothers who make each Happy Blanket; and
Figuring out the complicated (and very expensive!) international shipping process!
I’ve been overwhelmed by the lovely feedback we’ve received.
Check out our brand-new online shop to see what we have in stock right now.
You can also order a bespoke blanket – our bespoke options include personalised blankets and Khushi Kanthas for grown ups!