I am truly happy to manusa: ancient techniques, hand made tradition, textile recycling and social inclusion I am truly happy topresent the new collaboration between DHG and the Manusa Cooperative. Those of you who know us, already know how closely our company is connected to the local area, to the textile traditions of our district, to high quality products. And all of this, while focusing on respecting the environment.
Manusa offers all that and much more, and because we have so much in common we immediately felt very close to them. Indeed, Manusa makes fashion products such as sweaters, stoles, bags and t-shirts, with used textiles and materials. But there's more: Manusa is a big, all-female community in which fragile women with a difficult past and some issues to deal with find a new, concrete job opportunity, which is an also an opportunity for a new life. What's more, all this beauty is supported by a high level of sartorial know-how, combining traditional techniques with innovation. Their products are Made in Italy, ethically sustainable, made with attention to the finest details, and designed according to the upcycling philosophy: what more to ask for?
In the next months, we will present many projects stemming from this collaboration, but before we do that, we want to introduce this wonderful co-op to you. We are doing so by interviewing Silvia Gentili, the co-op's spokesperson, and by presenting Manusa Sewing Kits.
The Sewing Kits are an iconic product in Manusa's line, because they can be seen as a summary of the co-op's philosophy: they are everyday objects you can carry around so that you can be ready for some "creative recycling" at all times, while at the same time they are also textile creations made by hand with ancient techniques, sometimes using recycled material.
The Sewing Kits you see in these pictures are indeed made using the remainders of thermoformable felt, Tussah silk tops, and DHG extrafine Merino wool. Thanks to the skillful hands of Manusa's artisans, nothing goes to waste and our materials are transformed into little, everyday works of art. You can see the result in the pictures: lovely Sewing Kits are only waiting for you to put them in a bag and pull them out when you need them! A button has come off your coat and you are about to start a job interview? A piece of your jacket lining has come loose and you are at the airport gate waiting for your flight? Your daughter's teddy bear lost an eye five minutes before you are supposed to leave to take her to kindergarten? These are the projects we like: those that are able to connect apparently different realities, those that create beautiful, functional, good products.
Do you like them? Why don't you try to make your own sewing kits? We are looking forward to your pictures! If you don't want to or don't have time to make your own, you still have Manusa's: buy them and support this great co-op. Find out more on: www.manusa.eu
And now, I'll hand over to Silvia. In this interview, you are also going to find out the poetic meaning of the co-op's name. Enjoy!
Hello Silvia, can ou tell us where, when, and why the all-female co-op Manusa was born?
Manusa started in Pistoia, to give job opportunities to fragile women that we had met between 2010 and 2011 while working on other projects for a different co-op. At the beginning, our main problem was to find a "slow" production process, which could take advantage of their skills and live up to their expectations, while at the same time being modern and part of a market sector with a future. That is why textile handicraft seemed to fit our needs. We integrated this project with the idea of making products using only recycled materials, remainders or byproducts of the industrial production processes from factories in the nearby city of Prato, or from other factories that were interested in our project.
Two of Manusa's main strengths are making fashion products, and doing so using ancient artisanal techniques and used clothes. Why did you take this virtuous yet and unusual path?
Our challenge is to give another opportunity to those who have lost their job or who have never managed to find one. We thought the challenge would be even more stimulating if we added recycling and recovering ancient techniques to the equation. I think that at this point in time, it really is virtuous to try and reverse the trend of making everything a disposable item, of fast, instant fashion... We believe in slowness, in getting back in touch with objects, in going back to using our hands to shape the pieces in our collections.
Another important characteristic of your co-op is that you employ underprivileged people who are looking for a second chance. You give value to people as well as to the products you make. Have you found many difficulties in doing business this way?
This business model is certainly not easy. Manusa has spend the first two years training the people we had selected as part of our production process. In the meantime, we developed a stylistic research department to find products that our women could make. It's been a tough challenge, but our efforts are now being rewarded in small ways every day, both for the quality of our production and for the improvement in our employees' lives.
What does the word Manusa mean?
Manusa comes from Sanskrit MANUSH: human being.
What's your forte? And what are you next projects?
Knitting and embroidery are certainly a constant element in our production, also combined with recycled textiles. We have just finished a platform for refashioning sweaters online. This is our challenge for the next Fall: in order to give new life to that sweater you love so much, all you need to do is visit our website, choose a personalized reparation, and send your sweater to Manusa. You will get it back transformed into a new, unique, exclusive item.
Do you activity proves that the human capital is a priceless resource. And that creating opportunities makes one "richer" than only earning money. Have you ever shared your experience with kids in schools, for example?
We have visited some high schools in our city to present our co-op as a way of creating new opportunities for self-employment. I think we should find time to do that more often. Young people need to rediscover the values that are central to businesses like Manusa.
If someone wanted to join your team, to help you out or to find a job, what can they do?
They can write to the address, email@example.com or be in touch on Instagram or Facebook. We will be happy to meet them.
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