Categorized | Social Entrepreneur

Eve Blossom “Designs” More than a Plan to Combat Human Trafficking

Eve Blossom was trained as an architect/designer but always had an astute eye for design. In 1995, she studied aboard in Vietnam for two years, restoring French Villas. During this time, she discovered a passion for the hand-woven textiles of Southeast Asia. Throughout the region, she met master weavers, learned their stories and was moved by their remarkable talents and spirit. At the same time, she also saw poverty-stricken villages and impoverished communities. In Hanoi, she was witness to firsthand human trafficking. Eve was horrified and tried to intervene, but ended up risking her life. She also couldn’t do anything to change the devastating outcome for the girl. This event changed Eve’s life and her career.

From that day forward, Eve decided to merge her passion for design with her desire and need to help others. Eve would do whatever it took to stop forced labor, bonded labor or forced prostitution around the world. She spent hours researching human trafficking and found it was a marketplace, where, unfortunately, the commodity is a person. She found that artisan communities were severely at risk since they are without economic stability.

During her years of research, Eve built relationships with artisans, cooperatives and decided to design a business model that aligned with the artisans needs and created economic options for these communities.

Lulan ArtisiansEve founded Lulan Artisians, a for-profit social venture that designs, produces and markets contemporary modern textiles. The artisans Lulan hired, expertly used centuries-old techniques to create intricate hand-woven textiles. The weavers not only took pride in their art, but many became invested fully in the whole creative process-from producing the organic materials, to dyeing, spinning and warping the loom. Interesting enough, the artisans do not see them self as poor, but rich in their craft.

By using the artisians, Eve has created a viable economic engine that celebrates the enthusiasm, talents and traditions – giving them a stable foundation for their future.

Eve’s years of in-depth work with Lulan’s weaving partners has shown that true sustainability has four critical components-economic, cultural, environmental and social. She hires both men and women artisans, pays ample wages and opens new markets to go further, discerning the specific needs of individual communities and offering tailored benefits, such as education and housing allowances. She believes beauty is intricately interwoven with sustainability.

Lulan’s holistic approach also respects regional nuance in selecting fabrics and materials and takes every measure to be environmentally sensitive. Lulan Artisians use natural or low-impact dyes and source fibers to protect the artisians health and the health of their communities at large. For every one artisan employed, Lulan Artisians believe it has impacted on average 6 other people in the family and then another 5-7 indirectly in the community. But, numbers are always hard to be exact.

Today Lulan Artisians is still a company that integrates Eve’s design sensibilities with her commitment to create social change. Eve sells yardage, finished home furnishing products as well as accessories. Five years ago, she launched in the interior design industry, selling through designer showrooms and at lulan.com. She also sells products wholesale through specialty retailers.

Eve has successfully established relationships with more than 800 weavers, dyers, spinners and finishers in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and India. She pays sustainable wages, creating economic stability, growing local economies and assisting with other social benefits – such as education, housing.

In addition to being a strong voice for talented artisians, Eve is the first designer to hold a worldwide competition using a creative crowdsourcing site called crowdSPRING to produce designs for Lulan Artisans 2010 textile collection. crowdSPRING, which is an online marketplace for buyers and sellers of creative services. crowdSPRING offers logo design, web design, other types of graphic design, industrial design and writing services (such as company names) at an affordable price. Buyers post their creative projects and name their own price and, in turn, creatives submit their ideas and the buyer chooses the one they like best.

Eve hosted the competition under a new Creative Commons license that extends the use of creative works beyond a single design competition. This new license allows her for the first time in history to populate a database of designs that weaving cooperatives around the world can use to increase their ability to make a sustainable living and be less at risk of poverty. Prior to this free license, designs were only a one-time use.

Eve received more than 1,400 entries to the competition and is currently working with a star line-up of judges to select the final patterns. From there, she will work with weavers to develop a color blanket and eventually a new collection.

Lulan Artisans’ future goal is to use artisan skills and design to make a more impactful systemic social change. Eve would like to add more weaving centers to increase the number of artisans, expanding production and reach.

Lulan is not just creating a set of designed textiles or only a sustainable model for artisan products, but something even larger: an ecosystem design solution that works at the product, service and community levels. We create value by honoring values. We create purpose, meaning and vitality in the larger cultural context.

For more information about Lulan Artisians, visit www.Lulan.com or log on to browse and shop their fall collection of sustainable silk fabrics and weavings.

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