The Little Market is proud to work with talented artisans at Kara Weaves in India, Luchometik, in Mexico, and Lula Mena, in El Salvador. At Kara Weaves in India, artisans take ancient local fabrics, which are made using traditional wooden looms, and turn them into beautiful goods such as handmade towels, napkins and aprons. Pure cotton is used to make these products, and co-operatives source cotton from the yarn bank, the Indian government’s centralized cotton procurement system. Two textiles are used, and they are the thorthu and mendu fabrics of Kerala; people in Kerala relied on and wore these textiles for hundreds of years.
To make the table linens, aprons and towels from Kara Weaves that we offer at The Little Market, the artisans first prepare the yarn by sourcing, washing, dyeing, softening, bleaching, drying the yarn, and also applying any specific treatments as needed. Next are the pre-looming processes, which include spinning the yarn and setting up the loom. Then the skilled artisans start the weaving process. After that is the quality check, which happens in-house, and the stitching into products. The production process will vary based on how much fabric is required, customizations that may be involved, and techniques, such as motifs and prints, that are used. The artisans at Kara Weaves are members of local weaving co-operatives created by the Indian government in the 1960s in order to help support and promote local forms of art. At Kara Weaves, artisans design products using traditional techniques and market them on a global basis. Promoting the work helps to bring awareness and much-needed payment and income for the disappearing craft. After the co-operatives started to work with Kara Weaves, the wages increased by as much as 127 percent, and the number of weavers has tripled. One of the partner co-ops has also received a government grant from the Indian government, and this grant has allowed the co-op to purchase sewing equipment and train weavers with new types of skills.
Artisans at Lula Mena, a microenterprise located in El Salvador, create beautiful handmade pieces while following fair trade and eco-friendly practices. Lula Mena, the designer, and a team of approximately 75 artisans work together to develop sustainable and ethical products. The technique is passed down from generation to generation, and it’s very labor intensive. It has traditionally been a male-dominated technique, and men and women at Lula Mena work together to preserve the technique and create the handmade pieces. Don Ciro, the master artisan, has been working with Lula Mena for many years. They place a significance on using quality, natural, and repurposed materials to create goods such as pillows, hammocks, and throws that you can find here at The Little Market. The process begins with Lula designing a product, and then the necessary materials, such as cotton and polyester threads for throws and pillows, natural seeds, and copper threads, are gathered, a prototype is created, Lula approves, and production begins. These products are made on a traditional foot loom and on a traditional shuttle loom, and the first step of the weaving process is to warp the threads. The threads are folded and wrapped, weaved and warped, and glued and united in the loom. The mind and hands coordinate with the movement of the feet to create these pieces on the looms. On average, three artisans work together in a group to create each hammock, and two artisans partner up to create each pillow. The technique originated from the Spanish. Each product made by artisans at Lula Mena supports the artisans, their families, and their communities, while empowering them and their livelihood.
Artisans at Collective Humanity are committed to environmentally conscious practices. In a completely sustainable process, each throw is natural dyed with ingredients including coconuts, seeds, and leaves, which are harvested from the land surrounding the studio. Botanical dyes are often used in the process. Rice husks (that would otherwise be thrown away) are burned to heat the kiln; the rest is spread across the yard as a fertilizer.
Once the cotton is dyed, artisans begin to string the looms in preparation for weaving, a rare art form with a rich history in Cambodia. These beautiful, labor-intensive techniques have been preserved over decades and passed down across generations.
Artisans at Bloom & Give practice dyeing, weaving, and embroidery techniques using natural materials. This collection is hand-loomed from 100 percent sustainably grown cotton, which is essential to the agricultural economy of India. It is known for its rich texture, high absorption capacity, and tendency to get softer with every wash.
These napkins, towels, and pillows are handmade in Kannur, one of the three leading handloom communities within Kerala. The entire production process requires no electricity consumption; the yarn is hand-spun, hand-dyed, and line-dried and then woven on a handloom. This weaving heritage dates back at least 500 years and now faces competition from mechanized processes.
This throw is handmade in Panipat, the 3,000-year-old historic city also known as “the city of weavers.” Textiles from Panipat are created through a labor-intensive, often multi-step, process and are finished with hand-knotting and embroidery.
Using 100 percent cotton, indigenous artisans and artisans with disabilities in India weave cotton linens and pillows by hand. Artisans working with Sustainable Threads begin the production cycle by using frame looms to create cotton threads, which becomes the actual fabric. The rough cotton is spun while using looms to form thread. The cotton threads are vertically dyed using eco-friendly, AZO-free dyes. After dying, the threads are woven into segments of cotton fabric, varying in intricacy according to the design. Executing with a high level of precision, the artisans weave segments of cotton that are very specific in dimension, which limits waste.
Women weavers at MANAVA create a variety of homeware and handbags through a time-intensive rattan weaving process, an ancient Cambodian tradition dating back more than 1,000 years. They draw inspiration from Cambodian Kbach symbols, which are traditionally used in temple carvings and pottery.
MANAVA places an emphasis on eco-conscious practices and sustainable harvests, limiting what is reaped to promote future growth. Rattan is harvested from local lakes and rivers, rather than in forests and mountains, and is flexible and thinner, growing back year after year. The raw materials are organic and pesticide- and herbicide-free.
The artisans use a rattan palm material called pdau that forms the base of each product and a willow grass called la paek that provides stability. Both the rattan and willow grass are fast-growing and located throughout Cambodia. After the harvest, rattan and willow grass materials are set in the sun to dry. The women then clean each fiber, carefully peeling the outside layer. The willow is later dyed with non-toxic powder dyes made from plants and flowers, and the grasses are woven together. MANAVA’s team carefully tests and inspects each piece to ensure it is of the highest quality before sharing it with a larger marketplace.
Artisan collaborators at TENSIRA preserve a time-honored indigo dyeing technique to create this collection. The textiles are hand-spun and hand-woven on traditional looms using 100 percent cotton. For all tie dye patterns, each stitch is sewn individually with a needle and thread. Nearly 3,600 ties are needed to create one meter of fabric.