Meet our Maker Community

One of the aims of Secret Projects is to inspire our Makers to start their own micro-businesses / micro-enterprises. To be successful in such a venture an understanding of branding is essential. From the very beginning of our Training For Empowerment Programme we introduce this concept. We ask each of our Maker Networks to come up with a name for themselves and ask them to describe their hopes and dreams for themselves and their business activity. We are delighted to introduce you to our Maker Networks.

The women that join our Maker Community begin their journey with Secret Projects via our relationships with reputable and established Indian NGO's. Through these partnerships, we are able to meet groups of women with amazing stitching skills who go on to join our Maker Community and become part of our 4 stage Empowerment Programme. One of our main aims is for women who show leadership qualities and wish to enhance these skills, be given the opportunity to work towards forming their own micro-enterprises and go on to become business women in their own right. We are passionate about our Makers development and support each women in the way that she needs. Each women is an individual and our Empowerment Programme assists each one of them to realise their unique hopes and ambitions.

BANASHAKARI

Banashakari means goddess of the forest. This group named themselves after the patron of their families that live in a cluster in Kyasanahalli in Bengaluru. The women were trained by an NGO but getting regular orders for sewing was an issue meaning it was likely they would make a reliable income. The women in this group do not have any say in the family affairs. Vesting purchasing power with women is not within the norms of their families, however the secret project gives them the ability to empower themselves. The group is remote from city and do not have job opportunities within their reach. Educating the children and looking after their needs is taken care with the income earned through the Secret Project. Banashankari group have been part of the network over a year and have been able to have a sewing machine, mend old ones and impart quality education to their children.

SWEETY

Sweety group intends to have a sweet life for themselves through mutual support and help and thus named the group so. The group is based near Bypanahalli in Bengaluru. The women work as domestic help in house-holds and any unskilled jobs that they get. Getting orders once they are trained in sewing is a challenge. Women with young girls and infants are insecure to leave their homes for work owing to fear of abuse and safety of their children. Secret projects orders enable them to earn an income through which most of them clear debts that they have (money lending at high interest is pertinent in the area) while paying up for school fees and health issues.

SAHARA

Sahara means mutual support. As indicated by the name, this group is a set of Muslim women trained by an NGO for sewing that support one another knowing the challenges faced by themselves owing to cultural norms subjecting them to limited mobility and freedom. The women are highly skilled and yearn to make a livelihood that would enable them to have a better future for their children while addressing health concerns that they shy away from expressing at home. The group is based in urban settlement Bengaluru. Most of the women in the group worked in garment factories with poor conditions and benefits that has made them redundant in the job market. Secret Projects orders are said to be a great asset to them as they are able to stitch products within your households and paid without hassle.

DIVINE

This is our Maker Group called Divine. The name Divine is derived from the fact that the maker group are a mix of Christians and Hindus, with a strong belief in divine grace. They are from the suburbs of Bengaluru, near a stone quarry called Kannur. Bengaluru has a population of over 10 million making it a mega city and the third most populate city in India. The women have a limited option for work but were trained by the government in a skill development program. Post training, they did not have orders for sewing and any support to utilise their sewing skills. Most of the women have limited financial independence and are very happy to sew for Secret Projects. The money that they earn enables them to support their personal needs, which they couldn't otherwise do. They are also able to support their children and parents when they meet them.

BLOSSOM

Blossom Maker Network live in Kozhikode, a coastal city in the state of Kerala in Southern India. The Maker Group meet in a community centre located 4 to 5 kilometres away from where most of the women live, which gives them an accessible area to sew and train as a group. They only pay rent on the building when they use it which makes the project more economical for them. The group has other income-generating activities such as making umbrellas, jewellery, and ornaments. They want to work towards having a more focused sales strategy so that they are not left in a vulnerable position in terms of earning money. When we ask them about the challenges faced by women in their area they say that there is an increasing number of family breakdowns exacerbated by the issue of alcoholism, leaving many women and children abandoned. Single mothers live with the pressure of earning a living and providing for their children. They are working towards their Maker Network becoming a reputable company and helping others, especially those within their community For instance, by giving a percentage of their earnings to older couple who have no family to support them.

SHINING STARS

Shining Stars Maker Network live in the state of Kerala in Southern India. There are 15 members. Between them they have 30 children. Each maker has a child with profound learning difficulties and they managed to get them into a school which caters for their needs. The women travel a long distance to take their children to school and initially they found themselves waiting around the school for their children to finish their classes. They decided to rent a room at the school and set up a sewing unit. Through unity and coming together every day to sew, talk and sing they have found great strength. They operate as a proper sew unit and orders for Secret Projects are their one international order. The makers were initially trained through the women’s empowerment project run by Ammachilabs and funded by the United Nations Democracy Fund. They dream of happy lives for their children and continued success of their sewing unit.

PEACE VALLEY

Shining Stars Maker Network live in the state of Kerala in Southern India. There are 15 members. Between them they have 30 children. Each maker has a child with profound learning difficulties and they managed to get them into a school which caters for their needs. The women travel a long distance to take their children to school and initially they found themselves waiting around the school for their children to finish their classes. They decided to rent a room at the school and set up a sewing unit. Through unity and coming together every day to sew, talk and sing they have found great strength. They operate as a proper sew unit and orders for Secret Projects are their one international order. The makers were initially trained through the women’s empowerment project run by Ammachilabs and funded by the United Nations Democracy Fund. They dream of happy lives for their children and continued success of their sewing unit.

BLOOM

Bloom Maker Network live in the state of Tamil Nadu in Southern India. There are 9 members. They are all from the Irula Tribe and descend from the same family. Between them they have 19 children. The area in which they live is a famous tiger reserve and elephant corridor called Mudumalai Nature Reserve. They first trained to make Secret Pillows in December 2015 and they make our Camouflage range, some of which are sold locally by stockists in the Nilgiris, an area visited by tourists who flock to see the elephants and the beautiful scenery of the UNESCO world heritage site. Apart from Secret Pillow making, the only income-generating opportunities for the women is working for a daily wage in agricultural activities such as picking coffee beans and, when it is available, they are offered 6-week contracts to work on the roads filling pot holes after the monsoon. Both types of work are physically demanding and require them to walk long distances, spend time away from the home from early morning to late at night. The women are paid a maximum of 220 rupees a day (approximately £2.40) and they earn less then men doing the same job. They dream that, as a community, they can become excellent at making the different products sold by Secret Projects and they all dream of a better life for themselves and their children.

NATURE

Nature Maker Network live in the state of Andhra Pradesh. There are 18 members. The makers live in villages near a Catholic Brotherhood who provide basic vocational training. Between them they have 40 children. The area where they live has been affected by drought for a number of years. The land is cheap and to attract businesses the government gives the land away. As a result 15 international garment factories have set up there. Work in the factories is available to women who do not have young children. The work is hard, hourly production is monitored, the hours are long (8.30am to 6.30pm, plus a walk to and from home) and the treatment of the workers is unsatisfactory, as is the pay they receive. There are no holidays and they are only entitled to Sundays off. The mental and physical impact of years of work in these factories is devastating and many are left unable to work again. The only income-generating activities aside from the factory work is incense making, sari blouse making and seasonal agriculture jobs. Drought means that there is little crop growth and the women’s main focus is finding water and storing it safely for drinking. The makers have one goal and one dream: to work as hard as they can to enable their children to have the best education and chance in life, so that they do not face the same challenges that they have.