The Bengal, India-based artist collective known as SHE, or Self Help Enterprise, currently includes approximately 800 embroiderers, all of whom are joined together to make and sell centuries-old kantha garments. This ancient technique involves sewing layers of old fabric together with a running stitch, making each piece not only truly unique, but also earth-friendly.
While working, groups of women often sit and sew together, as they have for generations. This communal atmosphere fosters the exchange of creative ideas, and provides an opportunity for artists to share skills or offer help. SHE reinvigorated the art of kantha with contemporary colors and geometric patterns while drawing from classic designs of village vignettes and images of gods and goddesses for inspiration.
Products offered by the members of SHE include scarves, shawls, and garments—fabulous wearable items as unique as the artisans who made them. Other items produced include home goods like bedspreads, cushion covers, and table linens. Thanks to SHE, the collective’s members are able to support not only themselves, but also their families—and, in turn, their communities. Clean water projects are only one example of SHE’s reinvesting profits in artisan villages.