Friend and Supporter completes the NY City Marathon and raises funds for Secret Projects.

 13th Jan 2020 |  Contribute |  Fritha Mason


Guest Blog by Cinnamon Stapleton

Photo shows women from Secret Projects Maker Group, Nature, Andhra Pradesh with Secret Projects CEO and lifelong friend of Cinnamon, Fritha Mason (nee Vincent)

On 4th November 2018, I ran the New York City Marathon to honour the life of my mother, Ingeborg Coe, and to raise money for Secret Projects.

Inge was a formidable woman who was the definition of empowerment. She left Austria at 19, raised her children as a single mother, travelled to India where she trained to become a professional yoga instructor. Incredibly creative, stylish, wise, outspoken and unique – a force to be reckoned with! Countless people have told me what an inspiration Inge was to their lives, it is clear that her intellect and spiritual awareness touched many people.

I decided to raise money for a cause that truly represents everything that we are celebrating about Inge. As it so happens, Secret Projects embodies it all and it’s founder and CEO is my lifelong friend, Fritha Vincent. Inge loved Fritha and always commended us on our friendship, which began in 1987.

Established in 2014, Secret Projects operates as a social business connecting to women, through Indian NGO’s, who need help finding income generating opportunities. Secret Projects trains the women to make its fabric products and then sells their products internationally. Revenues generated are used to drive towards self-sufficiency, and are spent on further training and product development/sale. Through this process the vision of Secret Projects is realised: a world where women have the confidence and resources to make their own choices for themselves and their children. Secret Projects products are far more than just a product on a shelf, each tells a unique story and is a powerful vehicle of empowerment.

I contacted all my friends and family and ask them to help me raise money to support a specific group of women in Andhra Pradesh, a southern state that has been in drought for years. There are 18 members; between them they have 40 children. Drought means that there is little crop growth and the women’s main focus is finding water and storing it safely for drinking.

The only viable employment opportunities are in factories under diabolical conditions, which have devastating effects on the physical and mental well being of the women. Secret Projects is already working with these women to start a journey of empowerment for them through its 4-stage programme. Through Secret Projects these women will realize their dream of enabling their children to have the best education and chance in life, so that they do not face the same challenges.

I was blown away by the response, where together we raised over £6,600.

I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who sponsored me and joined me in honouring the life of my incredible mother, Inge. I am truly touched by everyone’s support and with every step that I ran, I thought of my supporters, Inge, and the Makers in India.

Thank you all so much.

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A new Maker Group and production of face masks for our Secret Face Masks for India Appeal has begun

A new Maker Group and production of face masks for our Secret Face Masks for India Appeal has begun

Partly situated in West Bengal on the Bangladesh border, the group is based in the Sundarbans, an outstandingly beautiful and remote region of . . . mangrove forest. Being such an isolated part of the world, the area is a key target for gangs of human traffickers and income generating opportunities, especially for women are scarce. A little more about the women... We met the NGO supporting the women when on a Customer Trip to West Bengal before lockdown gripped the world and were immediately impressed with their work and mission and how their values aligned so closely with Secret Projects. They work with groups of marginalized women who are at risk of being trafficked and help them to enhance their sewing skills by providing tailoring and stitching training and then go on to earn income by using these skills. We were very keen to work together, but obviously the global pandemic meant that plans had to be placed on hold. We launched our Sponsor Secret Face Masks for India appeal in May '21 to not only help slow down the spread of the virus in the country, but to provide our Makers with a chance to earn money to support themselves and their families and children by producing the masks. We decided that we wanted to distribute the masks in and around Bengaluru, where many of our Makers live as well as in the regions of Andhra Pradesh and the Sundarbans. How we are working together We contacted the NGO and had a very productive meeting via Zoom and agreed that the group would make 1000 sponsored face masks for Secret Projects and distribute them to communities most in need in the area. Lissy, our Quality Controller and Maker provided virtual training about how to make Secret Face Masks to our specifications and the production process has now begun! The group has started by making a small number of masks that have been returned to Lissy for a quality control check before full production begins. She has been very impressed with the standard and is currently feeding back to the group about a few small adjustments that need making and following this the stitching of the 1000 face masks will commence. We look forward to sharing further details about the making of the masks and their distribution soon. We are excited to be working with this new group of Makers at what is an incredibly difficult time for India and look forward to growing and developing our relationship to empower women through training and the making and selling of clothing and homeware. If you would like to sponsor a pack/s of Secret Face Masks, please click here for more information. Photo: The women from the Sundarbans Maker Group with team members of the NGO that supports them.
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We are over the moon to be part of 'Beyond Beautiful' -  a collection of artisanal products curated by the World Fair Trade Organization

We are over the moon to be part of 'Beyond Beautiful' - a collection of artisanal products curated by the World Fair Trade Organization

As provisional members of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), we are absolutely delighted to have been chosen to be featured in one of their . . . latest programmes, 'Beyond Beautiful' Beyond Beautiful... ‘Beyond Beautiful’ is a curated collection of artisanal products from verified Fair Trade Enterprises around the world. How does it help our mission to empower women in India? It promotes the work and stories of global craftspeople providing a new sourcing opportunity for retailers and importers wishing to expand their fair trade offer. So, in a nutshell, being part of Beyond Beautiful showcases Secret Products to new markets and buyers keen to purchase from ethical producers and Fair Trade product lines. A great opportunity for us! It is one of our major goals to increase our profile amongst retailers, importers and wholesalers, giving the opportunity for Secret Products to be sold more widely all over the world. Being part of Beyond Beautiful is a wonderful step for us towards achieving this goal and we are proud and excited to have been chosen by WFTO as one of their featured producers. If you have any contacts within the retail/wholesale world who are keen to expand their range of fair trade products, please pass on their details to our CEO, Fritha Mason: fritha@secretprojects.org Photo: Kantha Blankets made for Secret Projects as featured in Beyond Beautiful
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The first AGM of Secret Projects Community Benefit Society - a review

The first AGM of Secret Projects Community Benefit Society - a review

The first ever AGM of Secret Projects Community Benefit Society (SPCBS) was held on Wednesday 30th June 2021 via Zoom. We were delighted to have 25 . . . Shareholders attending the meeting in person, with a further 23 Shareholders represented via proxy. Opened and chaired by Secret Projects CEO, Fritha Mason, presentations were given by:   Banke Ajayi, Financial Director of SPCBS Fritha Mason, CEO of SPCBS Sumathi Thyagarajan, Acting Director of Social Power India (SPI) Shin Rumani, Marketing Manager of SPI Margaret Ring, Communications Manager of SPCBS   The main theme of the meeting naturally revolved around the affects that COVID-19 has had on the business and Banke Ajayi was able to provide a positive report about how the Society has fared financially over the last year. She stated that we had survived the global pandemic, which is a good base from which to grow over the next few years. As this was our first AGM, the team were excited to present and engage with Shareholders and were delighted with how the meeting progressed and the positive comments received from people. We would like to express gratitude to our Shareholders for their continued support and positive involvement in Secret Projects Community Benefit Society and we look forward to our second year as a Community Benefit Society and empowering women in India through the training and the making and selling of clothing and homeware.  
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