The Makers | Basket making in Bangladesh
Maison Bengal Ltd was set up in 2004 after its Director Sheenagh Day returned from living in Dhaka in Bangladesh.
After a number of years spent working in the aid industry, Sheenagh was constantly impressed by the traditional artisanal skills of weaving and basket making she came across in the poorest areas of Bangladesh. In a direct response, she decided to create a fair trade company on her return to the UK, thereby providing a market for some of these very marginalised communities. Using only locally grown natural materials such as jute and hogla (local sea-grass) she started to develop design ideas for a range of different baskets and bags and over a period of time, with close collaboration from her local fair trade partner organisations, built up a collection of different products for sale internationally.
"We work very closely with three fair trade organisations in the country, each one best placed to identify the most marginalised communities in their area and provide training in handicraft production. Maison Bengal works with each group separately to utilise their locally grown natural materials and develop their renowned traditional skills. This combined with our contemporary designs has allowed us to produce a comprehensive range of hand woven products. This process has taken many years of commitment and is a rewarding and constant work in progress."
Maison Bengal now works with over two thousand women throughout Bangladesh, each one in their home environment, enabling them to care for as well as financially support their families.
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