Despite his unique and adept skills of embroidering Pashmina shawls, Hilal Ahmed feels no more passionate for this job and unfortunately there are many other artisans like him. There was a time when children would be ready to quit studies, not because they needed to, but because hey wanted to join their parents in this prestigious work of Pashmina making and embroidering. They would wait for the day when finally their parents would agree to handover a plush Pashmina shawl to them and ask them to embroider it. It would be a dream come true for children to hold a Pashmina in their hands, which someone from their own family would have spun and woven. But times took an ugly turn and the power loom came into existence. Power looms seized the little amount of compensations that artisans used to receive. A shawl which took hand artisans' one full month to weave, took the power loom a total of 15 minutes at the most. As such, power loom owners could easily cater to the high demand of Pashminas in Europe, Middle east and Asia and the condition of handmade Pashminas as well as their makers went from bad to worse. This however isn't the only challenge that Pashmina and its artisans face. The most severe and dreadful challenge is that of low pay. In the Pashmina supply chain, maximum profits go to the sellers, who are the main contact with the customer, then to the retailer, then wholesalers and the least is reserved for the artisans. Eventhough artisans consider themselves to be the ones who deserve the compensations the most because without their efforts, Pashmina wouldn't even exist. But still, they receive as little as Rs 50 a day, which isn't even 1 dollar. "If everyone was to follow my example, who give quitting Pashmina a serious thought, the industry will ruin in days", says Hilal, who is on the verge of quitting this job as supporting his family on this income is nearly impossible. "My family consists of my parents and my sisters who are fully dependent on me. How is this justified that I receive compensation which is equal to nothing". Hilal strongly believes that no one should pursue Pashmina work now. "I would never allow my kids to do this kind of work. Your health is gone, your time is gone and what you receive in return is nothing" says a heartbroken Hilal, who suffers from severe neck and backaches, and he is just 30.
Hilal and Pashmina.com
"After all, why would we spent spend months or even years together for a work where there is no reward for us. Compensations have been stagnant, but market inflation is touching the skies. If the shawl fetches hundreds of dollars in the West, why cant makers receive at least an amount which is enough for a living", asks Hilal helplessly. While we do not have answers to his question, we do have a solution - Pashmina.com. Hilal works with us and is pretty satisfies with the compensation system we have adopted, Fair trade is a loved concept amongst artisans and they want more organisations like ours to come up and start the same.