Unleashing India

Sep 25, 2020

On October 2nd, 2017 I headed to India (this was my first time) after a full year of planning and preparing for this trip. I had read a ton of books, researched the areas we were visiting, tried my best to pack accordingly, watched documentaries etc. but NOTHING could really prepare a person for an experience like this. The purpose of my trip was for work, we took this journey for UNLEASHED to film our first episode of original content series called CONNECTING THREAD, this specific episode is called Unleashing India. We closely highlighted three of our talented artisan craft women, their families, their village and then filmed a piece at Amazon India Fashion Week featuring the Unleashed World ready-to wear-collection. With a crew of 18 people, an oscar nominated Director, a Bollywood host, 9 Punjabi government security officers and our small mighty UNLEASHED team… it was definitely an adventure.

These images are copy written by Jaclynn Brennan

We stayed between New Delhi and Bareilly- and both were drastically different experiences. Everyone always said to me, “India hits all of your scenes at once, it’s like a sensory overload”, and I never really knew what that meant until I got to experience it first hand. I have to say HANDS DOWN the best experience of my trip was spending time in the village of Faridpur. It was the most eye-opening and grounding experience of my life. It was filled with purpose, and I had a chance to really connect with the local culture and people. These people have nothing. They do not have running water, they only get 2-3 hours a day of electricity, 80% are illiterate and it was about 95 degrees which is totally normal for them. Living conditions were tough, there were about 10-15 family members per household (and when I say “household” I mean 1 room). With all of that being said, they were warm + welcoming happy people. The women within the village are some of the most talented beaders in the world, they work from home and earn money to send their children to school and put food on the table for their family. Almost all of the women are the breadwinners of the house, they are literally super heroes who manage everything and make sure they are providing a better life for their children. UNLEASHED is employing currently 38 women between our productions for Bloomingdales, Lord & Taylor, Maison-de-Mode and Dolphins Football fan gear. We are paying the women time and a half for their work, opening bank accounts for each one and are shinning a spotlight on them to help open access to capital and market.

In the pictures above you will see the streets of the village. There were SO MANY children, half of the village is made up of children. They have never seen people that look like us before in person (non-Indian) and were totally fascinated by our hair/clothes/language/mannerisms. The people of the village loved getting their picture taken and almost everyone knew the term “SELFIE” which was so funny to me. The kids were SOOOO excited to see us and followed us around the village each day. I bought a ton of fidget spinners from home for them which turned out to be a big hit, and we were able to give them to the teachers within the schools so they can award good students as an incentive for A+ work and behavior. We felt like mini celebrities about the town, almost everyone wanted to talk to us and take pictures. Everyone was really fascinated by cameras and the film equipment we bought in.

These images are copy written by Jaclynn Brennan

This experience really grounded me. It made me realize just how lucky we really are, and how much opportunity we have within our lives. These people have nothing and are happy, because they probably do not know any other way of life. It made my heart sad to see some of the conditions and how bad they were, but I truly felt that we got to make a difference. It could have been a small footprint inside that village, but it felt like something good and purposeful. I really hope that these little children stay in school and grow up to be anything they want. I hope that they are able to get out of the poverty cycle and make some changes for their local living conditions. Most importantly, I hope that this episode of CONNECTING THREAD: Unleashing India educates people around the world about the amazing artisan bead and embroidery work these women are doing within the village, and give them more jobs and opportunity.

More pictures and adventures from India to come, I encourage you to please reach out to me if you have any questions. Email me Blazersandbellinis@gmail.com or DM me on insta @Jaclynnbrennan or @Unleashed_World and I will do my best to answer them xo

#KnowledgeIsPower #UnleashingIndia