This week, I’m beyond thrilled to introduce you to an ethical Australian brand called Baby Peppers. I first started working with the company’s founder, Gaayathri Periasami, in October 2017. I was initially intrigued by the unique products for babies since I had a number of friend and family members expecting children around the time. I loved the fact that the products seems steeped in the ancient traditions of block printing, carving, and weaving – yet the aesthetic and totally modern. The more I looked into the products, the more I became intrigued and captivated by the story of Gaayathri. Her story as a mother of two, ethical entrepreneur, and all-around strong and motivated #ladyboss really spoke to me. The philosophy behind her work has personally motivated me to continue on with my efforts behind my blog, even when I’ve felt disheartened and overwhelmed.
As you know, whenever possible, I love having the women behind the brands tell their own stories in their own voices. I find Gaayathri’s story so compelling that I invited her to do just that. Below in italics, she tells us more about these cute woven baskets. The photos of Gaayathri and her products are from Baby Peppers and the images of the weavers are from Baladarshan, all of which have been reprinted here with permission.
Baby Peppers, Baladarshan, and A Better Life
In my active quest to work with women from all walks of life, regardless of race, creed or religion, a little fair trade organisation by the name of Baladarshan piqued my interest. When I dug a little deeper and found that it was headed by French philanthropist, Mr. Philip Malet living along the cultural streets of Pondicherry, India, I knew right there and then that my business would have a lifetime partnership with this amazing organisation.
I got in touch with Philip and was blown away by his expertise of India and his patience in explaining each sector that Baladarshan was aiding and how the profits and proceeds were being distributed to their micro-partners. The one sector that really had me in awe was an initiative to assist women living in the slums of Chennai, India who had suffered and survived the perils of domestic violence, the stigma of being a widow in India and/or being a female with intellectual or physical disability. These women were given access to educational classes to weave baskets made out of recycled plastics. In a world where 60 million metric tonnes of plastics end up landfills and another 8 million tonnes ending up in our oceans, here was this little organisation doing their bit in their journey towards a sustainable future and zero waste. The weaving process is intense and laborious with each basket taking approximately 10-12 hours to be completed. But these women showed up everyday with dignity and pride much to the surprise of the organisation. The women travelled from their slums to these classes and once they had completed the training, they showed up to work with their kids and weaved continuously day after day. Today, these baskets have won multiple awards at fair trade events and are being stocked at some of the most exquisite artisan stores in the world, mainly in Europe.
Having two very young children, it was hard for me make the travel myself all the way from Melbourne, Australia to Chennai so when I asked my parents to visit the premises and give me a word for word account of what they say, I could vicariously live through their visuals when they recounted their experiences.
Baladarshan had gone to great lengths to create a little mud brick house as a production studio. The house is partitioned into three neat rooms (one for the office, one for the women to gather and weave the baskets and another to store the recycled plastics which were categorised neatly according to colours and lengths. The working room is spacious enough for kids to spend the day with their mums.
If my business could help women in one of the poorest nations in the world still steeped in a meaningless patriarchal society that treats women like objects rather than decent human beings, then I had to manifest my vision into reality. The chance for me to provide these women not just a physical tangible benefit of money but also the hope and will to live and continue with life. To continue with normality instead of being objectified as hopeless victims. Anyone who invests in these handwoven baskets invests in a whole community – by providing financial independence to single mothers, and basic educational and sanitation essentials to their kids and families in the slums. The funds raised through the sales of these baskets will be used to roll in more stocks and if we could get a continuous cycle going with sales, these women will be guaranteed their financial independence.
When I see these women, I don’t look at them as victims of society. I see them as powerhouse women determined to rise from the ashes. I don’t look at them as pitiful beings needing my empathy. I look at them as role models that I could personally benefit from when mindless frustrations and anger weigh me down. I look at them as my mastermind sisters who can cultivate in me an abundance mindset – one that looks forward to the abundance of wealth I am going to create one day instead of the limits and walls I build around myself to wallow in my self-doubts.
Thanks to our followers’ wonderful support, we have completely sold out the Multicolour Sivankan totes but the other range is still available to be purchased here.
Baby Peppers for Everyday
Are you as moved by Gaayathri’s story as I am? I find her work to be incredibly compelling because it helps to empower women who had previously been seen as “victims.” They can now control their own lives and futures given the opportunities they have through Baladarshan. I also admire the fact that Baby Peppers’ products fill a need for quality and ethical children’s products. Finally, I love Gaayathri’s story as a momtrepreneur who is transforming her own life as a powerful and ethical businesswoman who is setting an amazing example for her children and forging a bright path forward for other entrepreneurial women. She is a living example of the fact that women business owners can “have it all” and define what that means for themselves.
I purchased a few of the products from the Baby Peppers’ site, including this lovely baby quilt, elephant plushy, and the Sivankan storage basket set. I loved each and every item I purchased and gifted the quilt and plushy set to my newest niece. She and her parents are already loving it. I can’t wait to show you how I use the storage baskets, but here’s a sneak peak from one of my previous blog posts. Until then, please write in and let me know what some of your favorite ways to use storage baskets are.