We have the privilege of working with an ethical factory in India and Kamlesh is one of the their lead embroiderer’s! Having worked at this factory for the last fifteen years, she is a familiar face to everyone around her and a sage to the other women there.
By commercializing her traditional craft, Kamlesh has been able to provide for her family. She has two children, one who is currently studying to be an accountant. She beamed with pride as she told us this part. She assured us that her wages are fair, telling us that she is paid via check and not cash each month so that everything is tracked by the company for reporting purposes. As one can assume, it’s easier to lose track of hours or exploit someone when cash is involved without documentation. She also confided in us that she works both in the office and if desired, can take work home with her for extra pay.
As the lead embroiderer, she learns the designs first and then teaches the other 45 - 50 women who also work for the factory on how to implement it. She diligently worked on a garment as we interviewed her, glancing up and down in between smiles as she effortlessly pulls the thread back and forth through the fabric.
We ask her how many days she’s been working on the garment in her hands and she laughs and with exaggeration says, “Three!” Even though we don’t speak Hindi, we all laugh before our liaison can even translate the number. I think we felt at ease with her cheerful and transparent demeanor. After all, the head of the factory is standing alongside us as we interview and she seems perfectly content being exactly herself.