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Stories in a Bag

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Tony Moon heads our work in Delhi. He and his small team together handle the manufacturing end of JOYN's leather and suede products. Tony is passionate about his work and believes strongly in all values that our company stands for. He writes about all the people involved in making JOYN bags including YOU, the buyer. 

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Sometimes I have to go back to the beginning and remember why I am working for JOYN. What makes this company different? Why are we so passionate about our products? Ordinarily I wouldn't be passionate about a handbag or a purse – it’s just not my thing - you know, being a guy and all, but I have to say, when I hold a JOYN bag something magical happens. After working with JOYN for two years, I’m so used to seeing JOYN bags and fabric wherever I go – they are in my car, they are all over my house, they are on the walls of my office, my wife even hangs her JOYN handbag at the end of our bed – and I’m sure once winter is upon us we will be endowed with a JOYN quilt.

A Bag Made; A Life Changed

I take them for granted, but they’re a rare and wonderful thing these products of ours. How often can you trace the story of a product from start to finish? And not only that, how often do you know that behind each process is a life changed and an opportunity given? It amazes me because I've seen it. I've seen the raw cotton sitting like a sack of cotton wool besides a spinner, watched as her fingerless hands draw the ball of fluff into strand after strand of yarn. I've seen the weavers at work, watched as they sit upon the looms turning this yarn into our trademark cloth – former beggars now creating something of worth and function, overcoming their illnesses and afflictions to work hard instead of using it to beg their daily bread. There is no room for pity here – there is pride in the eyes of these weavers.

 Then I’ve seen this fabric taken and laid upon a block table and listened to the ‘thud-thud’ of fists pounding down upon the wooden block.  The fists of young men once living on the streets, runaways, rejects, addicts - using their hands to fashion works of art upon this cloth, becoming masters of their trade, ‘artisans’, and knowing they are valued.

 I’ve seen the blocks these champions use to print, be carved from a single piece of teak wood by a man who believed his trade was a dying art. I’ve listened to his stories how he learnt his art form as a young boy – working beside his father, who raised him alone after his mother‘s death. His work is incredible, and his gift is being appreciated once again.

 And then I see the stitchers – Men and women, once considered worthless, given no education, treated like slaves – learn how to sew in a straight line, learn how to write their own name and be the ones that get to finish this process… to make a bag that is shipped halfway around the world. I’ve heard their stories – boys sold by their parents to factory owners, sleeping under sewing machines. Girls sent to work in the homes of the rich, working 18 hours a day, their meagre earnings going directly to their families in the village. Now they are able to give their own children the future they never had.

 So next time you see a JOYN bag, hold it for a moment,  feel the weight of the cloth beneath your fingertips,  see the faces of the artisans etched into each print. As you take your purchase to the counter, hear the stories of redemption and restoration shining through the paint and remember, you are part of this story too. Your purchase completes the masterpiece, you have fashioned a better life for someone.

6 comments

  • Julio Zegarra-Ballon: July 07, 2015

    This is the reason why I started Zee Bee Market, a Fair Trade business based in St. Louis, Missouri.
    Thank you for being the voice of the beautiful people that create the gorgeous JOYN products we carry!
    Thank you for making a difference in the lives of the artisans you work with…this effort does not go unnoticed.
    Keep up the good work!

  • Nina: March 15, 2015

    Hi Joyn, I’m so excited to have found you!!! I always wrestle when purchasing items made in India, or any other country with the fact that maybe this items are made by people slaved by other people. The awful stories I’ve heard from greed. I’m not impressed by name brands, but I’m impressed by companies that value humanity. Thank you for doing just that value people, and give then dignity, purpose, and LOVE!!!

    In great faith,

  • Savannah: December 08, 2014

    Thanks for the encouragement. Keep doing it! So blessed and inspired.

  • Marilie: November 30, 2014

    hey Tony! Just arrived in Delhi last night. Any chance we can come to c everybody at work on Friday afternoon? Will b awesome to winess this awesome project. God bless, marilie Theron( friends with Rickus and Xio Brandt)

  • Kezia: November 30, 2014

    Thank you Tony for sharing your story! And thank you all at JOYN for the beautiful work that you do. Really touched.

  • ben: November 30, 2014

    perfect

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