Off to our left are a high row of hills and behind us are other hills bordering Tamil Nadu and Kerala in S. India. Those hillsides are loaded with cardamom plantations and as we drove in we could also smell black pepper from the same hills. We are in the lovely red brick and tiled workshop of Blue Mango Trust in Tamil Nadu conducting a workshop for five groups helping them to prepare brochures about their products, visiting cards, logos and stitch-in labels. This is the fourth of a series of workshops which should equip the weakest groups with tools to show prospective buyers as they try and increase their local domestic sales.
The first two workshops looked at techniques to meet customers, how to approach them, what to say and where to look for new business. During those first workshops we noticed that some groups had nothing to carry with them to introduce themselves or their products. These last two workshops are solving those problems and where better to do it than in Blue Mango which is such a fine example of how to get design, production and marketing done really very well.
This morning we had a walk around and were shown the banks of sorted beads stacked by colour and design. Shelves of neatly folded and brightly coloured fabric are labeled and stored methodically and there are blackboards everywhere covered in English or curly Tamil script listing what orders are in progress, what sizes things are and even on what date each month the electricity bill must be paid. The weavers from Bethany Rehab Unit and tailors from Jone Pryadarshini Mahila Mandal are amazed by the order and a little envious of the fact that Blue Mango ladies have work around the year.
As I type Kim, a design student intern from Australia, and Syam. MESH’s designer, are designing logos with Jone Pryadarshini Mahila Mandal and Bethany Rehab Unit participants. Mathew, an Australian photographer has been teaching the CRAFT Cuddalore team how to take good product pictures and now Tamar from Blue Mango is showing them how to use MailChimp to give their products high publicity.
IM Soir is funding this workshop, Blue Mango is hosting us and IM Soir and The Leprosy Mission will help meet the costs of the first round of printing for the artisan groups. Exciting!