Our hand-stitched cushions are best sellers, and it's not difficult to see why. Not only are they handmade using traditional skills, but they have modern designs that are really desirable and right on trend. Our Klimt, Miro and Kandinsy cushions are particularly popular. Each cushion cover is a work of art individually produced under fair trade conditions, overseen by an inspiring ethical family business.
All of our hand-stitched cushions are made in Indian controlled Kashmir, the north-western most state of India. Set in the majestic mountains of the Himalayas, Kashmir is one of the most beautiful places on earth. On visiting the Valley of Kashmir, Jehangir, one of the Mughal emperors, is said to have exclaimed: "If there is paradise anywhere on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here."
Kashmir is famous for many crafts but its cushions and rugs seem to be the most popular here in the UK. Kashmir's many crafts reflect the state's history, landscape and traditional way of life and provide a valuable source of income for the people in this remote part of the world. The craftspeople in Kashmir produce the finest quality chainstitch needlework in the world.
To view our entire range of hand-stitched cushions CLICK HERE
Eastern tradtional methods combined with western contemporary design
Our hand-stitched cushions and rugs are individually produced. The design is imprinted onto a cotton fabric using a traditional method. The woollen threads used to make the cushions covers are dyed using natural dyes wherever possible. These threads are stitched in chainstitch by hand onto the cotton fabric and a cotton backing is then applied. The best quality wool and cotton are used and the natural dyes are fast. That's why they are all machine washable.
The designs are created by the team that set up the fair trade initiative from which we buy our cushions. This fair trade business is run by a british woman called Maria who met and married a Kashmiri man called Isaq in the mountains of Kashmir in 1996. They built up their business by bringing to London the most beautifully crafted items - cushions, rugs, pashminas and much much more. They delighted their customers with quality and designs not experienced elsewhere.
Now back in their beloved Kashmir they continue their commitment to quality and community. They now provide over 700 chainstitch workers, dyers and finishers with their main source of income. In winter they provide a secondary source of income to an additional approximately 1,500 artisans. What was a dying craft in the 1990’s is now a sustainable and thriving income generating business for the region.
Our supplier works only with members of the “Chainstitch Workers Association” in Kashmir. This body, organised by the workers themselves, sets the standard and rates of pay for all chainstitch workers in Kashmir. The workers receive 10% on top of the Association's set rate and our supplier pays 50% in advance for new orders and the balance on completion. They also provide interest free loans, paid back over extended periods, as required for marriages, building, and other large one-off spends. As most of the workers are based in farming villages no production is expected during planting and harvesting seasons.
The chainstitch workforce is mostly men but many women have recently been trained and are paid the same rate as their male counterparts. At no stage in production are children involved.
Over the past 3 years our supplier has started an education programme where they pay for private education, uniforms, books and transport for rural children. They started in 2009 with 8 children, 2 more in 2010 and today they pay and monitor the education of 15 children from nursery to eighth grade, providing additional tuition and homework assistance after school daily.
They have also paid for a computer, the first in one of the villages, which has helped one birght young man generate his own income by printing out forms, photographs and sending emails for villagers.