Episode 6: Introduction To Traditional Women Artisans And Their Empowerment
Don't have time to listen to our podcast? No worries, here is a brief summary of the discussion with Aditi Dubey Lee
Introduction to Traditional Women Artisans and their Empowerment
In this episode, we talk with Aditi Dubey Lee, the founder, and CEO of Ruas, a high-end fashion brand that empowers rural handicraft artisans that links traditional art and contemporary design. She is an expert in co-designing with rural artisans for global markets and is working with communities Rabari, Souf, Ahir that are hand styled in Kutch, Toda embroidery from Ooty, and Chikankari from Uttar Pradesh. She has a background in creative writing as well - a total package when it comes to art and creativity.
Aditi explains how Ruas’ vision has always been to empower women artisans through sustainable livelihoods and co-design. Her childhood played a huge role in forming Ruas since she came from a family of three and witnessed much bias and discrimination towards families. She formed Ruas keeping these aspects in mind and also used her writing skills to connect with people and create stories.
When Aditi was looking at launching her first product at Ruas, she looked at her camera strap and felt that it was too plain and needed a change. This is when she felt like she could team up with the artisans and create something functional and unique and it also helped her feed into her passion for empowering women.
She also shares with us the various experiences and challenges that she faced during her encounter with these artisans. She further goes on and shares how even though the idea of making a unique camera strap came into her mind, she had no idea how to go about making this and she took quite a bit of time trying to figure that out. This was probably one of her biggest challenges. Another challenge she faced was building relationships on the ground since she experienced clashes in cultures and there were quite a few barriers otherwise as well. She talks about her experience with these women artisans who were tired of being treated like labourers and not valued for their capability of creative thinking. She believed that the systems around can be quite damaging to one's self-esteem and that everyone is always doing the best they can and there is always an opportunity to do better.
She tells us how women from these regions lack the encouragement they need to create something out of their imagination and put their artistic skills to use and when it comes to their families, not all of them are supportive because of their traditional beliefs.
She explains the various struggles she had to encounter concerning civil rights and the number one challenge was breaking the barrier about the caste system. For her, it was quite a struggle since being in the city, everyone is mostly out of touch with these systems. Aditi takes pride in the fact that her brand is a women-led organisation, however, men and women can both shop at Ruas. She believes in gender equality and hence, at Ruas, products are curated and designed for diversity. She believes that no matter where you stand in your culture, educational background, or work experiences, everyone needs to be treated equally and that respect and honour go a long way.
Follow the Ruas journey, visit: www.ruas.in