Sustainable Beauty

Proud Mary is a US-based sustainable textiles and crafts organisation, sourcing their products from all corners of the globe, to create income for the artisans themselves and their families and to preserve traditional practices in cultures. We Try This At Home approached the director and founder of Proud Mary, Harper Poe, to talk more in depth about Proud Mary. Poe not only talks about how Proud Mary functions, but also touches on the  importance of sustainable consumer practices. If as consumers, we choose to purchase sustainably and carefully, we have the ability to positively impact other humans whilst also reducing the considerably long and negative chain reaction effects of mass production and consumerism.

A Guatemalan artisan in practice.

By Harper Poe

It’s common knowledge that handouts are not effective.  The most they can do is make the person giving the handout feel a little better about themselves.  Proud Mary was built on the premise that a hand-up is a million times more effective than a handout.  Through our work with global artisans we can do our part to spur economic growth for our artisan partners and their families by providing a fair wage and market access for their textile goods.

We start by seeking out artisan groups that have inherent skill, are open to learning new things, and produce beautiful goods.  To us the most important of the three is “producing beautiful goods”.  Beauty can get a bad reputation as being something frivolous but it is acknowledged and expressed in every culture in the world. Whether it’s represented through clothing, accessories, jewellery, being thin, or voluptuous, beauty is a common thread connecting everyone on the planet.  Instead of selling our products as a charity case: “this poor woman in Peru makes this humble product – please support her”,   it’s much more sustainable to sell the message “this amazing woman, creates the most beautiful naturally dyed wool fabric and we can’t wait to share this with you”.  At the end of the day charity can only go so far.  Consumers choose to purchase things that work for them aesthetically, products they deem as beautiful.  The bonus is that the products that Proud Mary distributes are handmade, fair trade, and preserve an ancient craft.

Our passion lies in indigenous textiles. We are completely enamoured by the process, the tradition, and the people that create them. When we were starting Proud Mary we knew that we wanted to create a social venture combining modern design elements with traditional methods of textile production.   Textiles do an amazing job of visually telling the story of a culture.  The challenge, and therefore the most exciting part, is to collaborate with our artisan groups to maintain the integrity of the process while tweaking colors and combining unlikely materials to create something unique, something that will appeal to the modern consumer.

Our goal moving forward is to provide a global exploration of textiles, touching on major textile traditions all over the world.  We hope you can follow along as we share this beautiful craft while supporting global artisans and their families!

To learn more about Proud Mary visit:

www.proudmary.org

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