fair trade

Where am I and What am I doing?

Hello world!!! It has been FAR too long since I've written something. I figured I would start by answering the questions "Where am I?" and "What am I doing?" 

Shifra Whiteman, struttin' around in one of her textile designs.

Shifra Whiteman, struttin' around in one of her textile designs.

First of all, I am still in the great city of Chicago. However, I am now a graduate student! I am currently in the middle of my first semester in the Business and Entrepreneurship program at Columbia College Chicago (not to be confused with Columbia University in NYC). I am hoping to gain as much during these next 2 years so that I may be able to focus on establishing my own creative and fair trade business. So far, I have been taking courses in accounting, economics, marketing and fundraising. Yes, it's true, the majority of my classes have to do with numbers! I will still be designing while I'm in school, so stay tuned because I have so many goodies that I will be sharing oh so soon.

Della

Around a year and a half ago, I got a new laptop and that meant a new laptop case! I realized that in this world of buying "stuff" there was an opportunity to help people as well. Since then, I have been trying to make a conscious effort to purchase less. However what I do buy, I try and support a fair trade, ethical and/or sustainable company.  

Della - Soaring II Macbook case

Della - Soaring II Macbook case

I learned about this wonderful company called Della. At Della, Ghana women create beautiful laptop cases and get paid a fair wage. I immediately purchased one. They use traditional African dutch wax batik fabrics, which are filled with bright bold colors and really makes a statement. This is just one example of how a small purchase can make a huge difference in the lives of people all over the world. 

I feel so proud to me designing for companies that share the same mission and ideals as this company. Please think of fair trade organizations and companies when looking over your gift list and consider supporting them. 

Below is a video that shows the women of Della and how happy they are working for such a great company.

Global Girlfriend

I have been reading the book "Global Girlfriends" by Stacey Edgar, the founder of the website Global Girlfriend, and have been totally inspired. I highly recommend it! I could not have started reading this book at a better time - while constantly hearing about the over 800 dead because of a factory collapse in Bangladesh to unfairly treated workers, and my recent trip of the "Tour de Grad Schools", I have really been thinking about what I want to accomplish in life, and how to do it. 

Paper Crane Tie Shoulder top. Textile Design by Shifra Whiteman. Created by Mata Traders. Sold on Global Girlfriend.

Paper Crane Tie Shoulder top. Textile Design by Shifra Whiteman. Created by Mata Traders. Sold on Global Girlfriend.

Feeling inspired, I decided to comb through the Global Girlfriend site and got to a page where I recognized a custom order that Mata Traders did for Global Girlfriend - the Paper Crane Tie Shoulder Top!   I feel honored to have somehow made it onto the Global Girlfriend site and hope to continue my work in textile design for fair trade!!!

1st round of Spring 13 designs for Mata Traders!

One of the main companies I freelance for is Mata Traders, a fair trade fashion company based in Chicago, IL. Everything is designed in Chicago and then produced and manufactured through women's cooperatives in India and Nepal. The garments are made using mostly traditional techniques through screen printing, block printing and hand weaving. I have designed a good chunk their textiles for their Spring 2013 collection.  This week is especially exciting because a handful of my designs are now available for retail purchase on their website!  These are only the dresses that have come in but there are shirts, skirts and more dresses coming soon!!!!

Textile design by Shifra Whiteman. Dresses available through Mata Traders.

Textile design by Shifra Whiteman. Dresses available through Mata Traders.