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A Trip with Nest to India

The Little Market’s Lindsay Abrams, joined Nest last fall on a trip to India to visit three of our cherished Nest Guild Members. Lindsey is a Nest enthusiast, having visited Peru with our organization in 2018. She’s even joining our Junior Board! Read on for highlights from Lindsey’s interview featured on The Little Market’s Cultural Exchange.

The Little Market: What was your favorite part of your visit to India?

Lindsay: It’s hard to pick just one part of the trip! Despite the fact that it was a very smoggy day in Agra when we went to see the Taj Mahal, it was magical and a once-in-a-lifetime visit that I will never forget. I also loved so much, Jaipur, the Pink City, as it is famously called. 

The Little Market: Tell us about the additional artisan groups you visited during your time in India. 

Lindsay: We visited three groups with Nest — Aavaran, Freeset, and Loom to Luxury. At Aavaran, our first stop in Udaipur, we learned how this women-led group uses natural indigo dye and Dabu block printing to create beautiful clothing and products for the home.

Aavaran artisan in Udaipur. Photo Courtesy of Rose Aschebrock @wonderfullyrose

It was so interesting to learn about how Aavaran is working to preserve these traditional craft techniques while providing opportunities for both male and female craftspeople in the community. 

Aavaran artisan in Udaipur. Photo Courtesy of Rose Aschebrock @wonderfullyrose

 

Our next stop with Nest was to visit Freeset in Kolkata. Freeset is unique in that they are an artisan enterprise working with survivors of trafficking in Sonagachi, one of Asia’s largest red light districts. While we were not permitted to take photos during this visit, we were able to tour their facilities, where the women sew and screen-print T-shirts, canvas bags, and a variety of other items. We were also taken on a walk of the red light district with women in the community who work at Freeset. They were proud to show off their neighborhood and for us to see and better understand it.

Lastly, we visited Nest’s artisan partner Loom to Luxury for the opening of their Varanasi weaving center. This was such a joyous day for both those that work for Loom to Luxury and for the Nest Team, who partnered with Loom to Luxury to build this facility over the course of the past seven years. We participated in a traditional ceremony to bless the new building, planted trees on the property, learned how the artisan women use the looms to create gorgeous silk clothing, scarves, shoes, and other products, and then enjoyed a celebratory lunch with the founder, Jitendra Kumar, and his family. Our visit to Loom to Luxury was emotional, inspiring, and a fantastic way to end our trip.

The Little Market: We heard you were able to experience some of the Diwali celebrations during your time in India. Tell us about the holiday! 

Lindsay: Being in Varanasi for Diwali was like nothing I have ever experienced before. The Ganges was flooded with hundreds of thousands of people who had come from far and wide to be at the river on this day. The steps of the Ganges were lit up with candles. We sailed away on a boat down the river watching those on land dance and celebrate the festival of lights.

Diwali Celebration. Photo Courtesy of Rose Aschebrock @wonderfullyrose

We even lit our own candles and put them in the river, saying prayers for those no longer with us. It was fabulous in every single way and a gift to be at this special spot on the night of Diwali.

Diwali Celebration. Photo Courtesy of Rose Aschebrock, @wonderfullyrose

The Little Market: Do you have any exciting trips coming up that you can share with us? 

Lindsay: At the moment, I do not have any exciting trips outside the country planned, but I do hope to go with Nest on another trip at some point this year or in early 2021. We briefly spoke about traveling with the same group to Rwanda, so I am crossing my fingers that that is my next adventure.