We have a hidden jewel in our Waynedale Community. Sari Bari is an ethical fashion business that employs women who have been exploited in the sex trade or who are vulnerable to human trafficking. Women are trained as artisans to create beautiful, quality handmade products from recycled saris.
When a customer purchases a Sari Bari product, a woman receives fair wages, health insurance and retirement benefits for her work.
Sari Bari opened in 2006, after four years of a steady presence in Sonagacchi, one of the red-light areas of Kolkata, India. Sarah Lance, the co-founder of Sari Bari said, “I really saw that one of the main needs was an alternative job, needing a different kind of work, because the women (were) trafficked in mainly because of poverty. Women weren’t looking for a handout. They were looking for a sustainable way to care for their families and for themselves.” Since their inception, when three women began creating blankets from saris, Sari Bari Private Limited has grown to now employ nearly 100 women creating beautiful handbags of all types and sizes, napkins, table runners, scarves, blankets, masks and so much more.
The company is operated by an all-volunteer staff. David Grant holds the position of Executive Director of Sari Bari while working another fulltime job. He was recently chosen as one of 40 top professionals in NE Indiana who is under 40 years old. He initiated and established the Fort Wayne retail and distribution office, building the organization and promoting community awareness as well as leading the way through the challenges of 2020.
Volunteer Sarah Lance, Co-Founder of Sari Bari, presently is an EmPWR Project Manager at The NE Indiana Innovation Center. She is also a Board member and manages marketing on the Sari Bari website. Sari Bari received a major boost when Sarah won the Opus Prize in 2016. This $1 million award is given annually to recognize unsung heroes of any faith tradition, anywhere in the world, solving today’s most persistent social problems. This prize has allowed for the expansion of Sari both in India and the USA.
Rachel Yoder wears multiple volunteer hats. Not only a Board Member and Volunteer Coordinator, she also manages the store. Rachel, along with fellow retiree volunteer Jane McGraw, both fill online orders and formerly worked in the nonprofit sector supporting programs for women and children. Rachel said, “I love that I can volunteer at the Sari Bari shop which is just five minutes from my home. However, I see my time with Sari Bari as more than filling orders. It is my way of advocating for freedom and purposeful work for women on the other side of the globe. It means education for children and hope for entire families.”
Through their volunteer efforts, Sari Bari artisans in India were supported throughout the pandemic, even when their production facility was closed for three months. Originally a store front open on Wells Street, the Sari Bari retail store closed to meet the challenges of the pandemic, moving their headquarters to Waynedale.
Brian Crowl, Owner of The Playfair Group, generously provides cost-free space in his Playfair building off Bluffton Rd. Brian says, “I love the work that Sari Bari does! I am pleased that an empty space at Playfair can be used to support this work”.
The convenient mailing options available in Waynedale have made it an excellent location for the on-line store. USPS (Post office), Fed Ex (Walgreens) and UPS (Advanced Auto Parts) are all within one block of the Sari Bari shop in the Playfair building.
David Grants shares “Sari Bari has been a source of hope for me, particularly through everything we have all been through this past year. With such uncertainty, through global lockdowns, the future of the organization was not clear. However, our local volunteers and Brian Crowl (without whom we would not have made it through), along with our customers and supporters chose to maintain their commitments to freedom with purchases and donations to Sari Bari, and Sari Bari still stands. Even more than that, the brave, strong women of Sari Bari continue to make their decisions for freedom despite their own uncertainties and realities.”
Sari Bari sells exquisite products and it’s a great feeling knowing you are both investing in a worthwhile cause and helping repurpose saris. For more information or to place an on-line order, you may visit their website at saribari.com or Sari Bari Facebook and Instagram pages. You may also contact them at 260-420-8518 or firstname.lastname@example.org