women's cooperatives

Who Made My... Mata

Mata Traders’ items are recognizable by their bright prints and colours found on some of our dresses, skirts and shirts, and they are also the source of much of our jewelry.  Behind every lovely printed garment or glimmering piece of jewelry is the story of a women who was given the chance to empower herself and aid in the sustainability of her community. By purchasing something from Mata, you are connecting yourself to the positive change in many women’s lives who were involved in the process of creating that item, whether it’s a necklace to match your dress for a wedding or a skirt to wear whe n you travel for the summer.

"Our mission is to work with organizations that educate, employ, and empower women. Spending time with these groups has helped us realize that even the most traditional women, when given the opportunity, thrive in a sphere of meaningful work that is outside their homes and families. We have also learned that equality in the workplace is possible in a country as socially stratified as India."- Maureen Dunn, Founder of Mata Traders

Mata cares about delivering a final product that is not only stylish and modern but also brings in traditional methods, like block stamping and embroidery, into the production. By using these methods, Mata can encourage local artisans in India to continue their traditions while introducing them to the modern day market of retail fashion.

The vision for Mata Traders was created by Maureen Dunn after she traveled around India with 2 friends; Michelle and Joni, on a round the world trip. She began importing various products from suppliers in India to build a business based around the beauties of Indian fashion and art.This eventually led to Mata Traders only working with suppliers that practice the principles of fair trade such as; paying their workers fairly and having safe working conditions.

With the aid of the women’s co-operatives that Mata works with, they are able to give many working women the income they need to send their children to schools, and in a particular 17 year old named Harshali’s case, her siblings. Harshali started working at a co-operative partnered with Mata at the age of 17 in order to earn enough money to send her 3 younger siblings to school as well attend post-secondary herself. Both of her parents died earlier in her life, leaving Harshali’s grandmother to raise the 4 siblings. By moving to the city, her grandmother hoped to find work to take care of them all.

After Harshali finishes work at the co-operative every day, she returns home to aid her grandmother and sister in selling fish on the side of the road until around 9 pm. Through her hard work and dedication, Harshali was able to send her 3 siblings to school as well as begin a college economics course.

Mata Traders and the women’s co-operatives were able to make this happen by giving the support and work that many women, like Harshali, need to raise and take care of their families. However, none of it would be possible without the help of the customers who decide to shop fair trade.

Beth, owner of Grey Rock Clothing Co., visiting with two of Mata Trader's founders at their head office in Chicago. 

Beth, owner of Grey Rock Clothing Co., visiting with two of Mata Trader's founders at their head office in Chicago. 

Photos of their employees and processes have been provided by Mata Traders. If you would like more information on Mata, leave us a comment and we’d be happy to answer your questions or find out the answer for you!