There’s a different kind of influencer wielding her power in the Himalayan mountains of rural India. Contrary to the kind of influencer the modern world is used to, she doesn’t need social media to share her story and connect with her crowd. Her followers grow organically and are genuine fans, listening to every single word of advice as if their life depended on it.
And it would. For these ‘influencers’ are first generation women weavers of the Himalayas who have proven that when the going gets tough, learning a new skill can be life-changing.
The women we are talking about never questioned the only identity they had – to be the wife of her husband. But that changed in June 2013 when flash floods devastated the Himalayan region of Uttarakhand, washing away villages and with that, its men. Some women lost their husbands, the sole earning member of the families.
But there was no time to cry or challenge fate. Many of the women saw opportunity in the art of weaving – a craft that would feed their families and keep them employed. These farmers quickly learnt how to spin and weave and with every passing year, they grew more skilled and empowered. From weaving for local markets, they expanded to working with brands like ours.
As we step into the New Year, we are grateful for the funds raised for our first ever Artisan Empowerment Programme. Standing next to these strong women who will be part of the empowerment programme, we listen as they share their story of loss and love for the job that gave them a new status in society.
Over the next few months, our Empowerment Programme will shape and challenge our artisan teams to make next steps in their communities. And with that, explore the power of its truest influencers.
Text: Kanak Hirani Nautiyal
Photo: Marloes van Doorn