Schalmauer: The Essential Accessory that Gives Back
Style icon and American designer Donna Karan once said “There is nothing more important than the scarf because you can wrap yourself in it, you can hide yourself in it, you can go make it into a dress, you can wrap it into a pillow and go sleep on the plane. So you always have to have a scarf with you no matter where you are."
Obviously, we couldn’t agree more!
The versatility of the scarf allows it to be used anywhere, and everywhere, in all seasons and for all occasions. It adds a touch of color to a plain and casual outfit, or acts as the charismatic and bold accessory that really makes an outfit stand out. Or, as with our Schalmauer scarves, it provides you with a rare piece of artwork which not only attracts attention, but gives you that trendy and chic vibe. Simply put, a Schalmauer scarf is a Fashion Statement which “feels good, and looks good”. Apart from being practical, it really is the Essential Accessory that you must have. And in our case, it also gives back! When you buy a Schalmauer, you are also empowering the Nepalese artisans – mostly women – with income generating activities as well as improving their living and working conditions.
So for those of you organizing your wardrobes ahead of all the fashion week madness, make sure to pack in a few of your favorite scarves!!
When Beauty and Fashion meets Development
Young, enthusiastic, kind, bright, confident, and of course beautiful…..These are just a few traits that come across when you meet Cynthia Samuel. Cynthia, who has been making her debut over the last year as Miss Universe Lebanon 2015 & Miss Lebanon 2015 First Runner Up, has both beauty and brains, our favourite kind of combination. To top it all off, she is also a humanitarian at heart. And we, at Schalmauer, are very excited about our amazing photo shoot with her (inspired, organised, and implemented by our uber-talented and creative Araxie Boyadjian). A short Q&A with Cynthia revealed:
Favorite Accessory: Scarves! I think they can complete an outfit easily. Any colour, any kind.
What attracted you to working with Schalmauer:I like knowing who made my scarf. So many of us are unaware of the living conditions of the people making our clothing. This is what’s different at Schalmauer. They empower the Nepalese women behind this product with more skills & income generation opportunities, enabling them to cater for themselves and their families. Also, the scarves feature some beautiful artwork, and one of the artists happens to be Lebanese. It makes me proud to bring attention to the strong art scene that resides in Lebanon.
As a representative of Lebanon, do you have any specific message to the public: My message is that I, for one, put a lot of thought into how much I should trust myself and the person I want to be. This is what eventually led me to where I am today. I say, believe in the person you want to become, stay positive and kind, and you will reach where you want to go.
Do you believe that fashion can be used as a means to contribute positively to improving peoples lives?Yes I do, and Schalmauer is a great case in point. Fashion is a way of expressing one's self, and I have the honour of doing so through the work of Schalmauer, while also having the satisfaction of helping those in need.
Without further ado, check out the pictures of our scarves & be inspired….Available on our online shop!
Photo credit: Araxie Boyadjian
Our Promise to You
Here’s the thing about New Year’s resolutions. As we are making them, we really do have the best intentions of keeping them: this is the year we’ll achieve our target weight, adopt a healthy lifestyle, save lots of money, improve our relationship, and just become a better person overall. However, as the year comes to an end, and we review how far we’ve come, more often than not we wonder: what happened? Where did we lose sight of these goals we set ourselves? Somewhere along the way, we get so caught up in our day to day life that the bigger picture slips into the background. It is therefore not surprising that only 8% of us do in fact manage to achieve our New Year's goals. And before we know it, we are at it again: “This time, I swear I’ll stick with it”.
Looking back over the year, which is Schalmauer’s first year of operation, we have faced all the highs and lows you would expect from a start-up. And although we are still at the beginning of our journey, what we know for sure is that we don’t believe in making promises and resolutions which will be long forgotten by February. Instead, we want to share with you our goals which we will be striving to achieve every day this year:
- Provide you, our Customers and Ambassadors with high quality products;
- Ensure that every scarf you wear is handmade by our talented artisans;
- Empower our artisans with income generation activities and capacity building initiatives to improve their working and living conditions;
- Provide you with first class artwork by our renowned artists;
- Work in partnership with international development practitioners to contribute towards the poverty alleviation initiatives and the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
- Contribute to increase the visibility and awareness of social enterprises particularly in the spheres of art and fashion (#FashionforDevelopment); and
- Contribute towards the movement for a more ethical fashion industry.
Above all, “Let our New Year's resolution be this: We will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word.” - Goran Persson
What are your resolutions? Share a picture on our social media platforms with #schalmauerresolutionsiwillkeep
The Gift That Keeps on Giving
Meet Swarti, one of Schalmauer's artisans
The mood of this season should be one of Joy. However, all the news of the last weeks - violence, gun shootings, terrorist attacks, and the list goes on - has greatly overshadowed the season’s spirit. It is difficult not to get caught up, angered or simply saddened by these tragic events that are happening in the different corners of the world, however, if there is one thing these crises teach us, it is that while we may have no control over these unexpected events, we can control how we react to them. At Schalmauer, we choose to react with the simple gestures of giving and helping those less fortunate, while embracing this season at its fullest….because for us it is a reminder of the important and pure things in the world - love, happiness, warmth and family. This is our belief at Schalmauer and we are proud to reflect this in our business model.
Almost 13% of the world’s population still live at or below US$1.90 per day. Ideally, we would like to reach people in need all around the world. But we know that this is not possible. Instead, we currently focus our development efforts on Nepal, where our pashmina scarves are produced. Nepal, one of the poorest countries in Asia, has a poverty prevalence of close to 24%, where nearly one in four people are living below the poverty line. It is also estimated that the massive earthquake that hit Kathmandu earlier this year, which killed thousands of people and devastated the country, has pushed a further one million people into poverty. It is therefore now more important than ever to support the country in its development efforts. Currently, 35 artisans are producing your Schalmauer scarves and, you our customers and Ambassadors, are providing them with opportunities to create a better life for themselves and their families. Swarti (20) is one of those artisans, named after the God of Starting. Originally from the Nuakot District, she left her village for Kathmandu three years ago, seeking opportunities to create a better life for herself. Swarti is one of the privileged women, as she can read and write and has graduated from high school. She works in the dyeing section of the factory, a very labour intensive task involving measuring colours, and dyeing each scarf by hand. “I dream of opening my own business and discovering new colours for pashmina scarves” she told us. With every Schalmauer scarf you buy, it is artisans like Swarti that you are supporting.
So this season, as you are looking for the perfect gift to buy, why not get into the real spirit of the holidays and get the perfect gift that gives. By doing so, you would not only be spoiling that special someone with a beautiful handmade scarf, but also helping our artisans to create a better life for themselves and their families. There is no better time than the present to start making a difference.
Schalmauer’s #FashionForDevelopment Movement
Fashion is continuously evolving in style, trend, colour and material. Billions of people worldwide are affected by the fashion industry in one way or another, whether as part of the value chain or simply as consumers. The same can be said about the approaches to development, which have also evolved over time. Twenty years ago, the notion of helping was always associated with some form of philanthropy, monetary donation, or charity. Although these are still ways in which individuals assist those in need, modern forms of helping now focus on more sustainable solutions whose impact continues even when the flow of donations or funding has stopped. Furthermore, the idea that development is limited to specific NGO’s or international development organizations has also shifted. Today, development programs encourage inclusive partnerships between all stakeholders in society. Central to this is the role and the engagement of the private sector in development initiatives. Many international corporations have now adopted some form of Corporate Social Responsibility programs, and while we find that in most cases this approach can be a powerful tool for development, more is still needed.
And this is where our business model fits in. As a social enterprise, we look for solutions in a financially sustainable way with a long-term view. The sale of our products not only provides income generation opportunities to meet the basic needs of the Nepalese artisans, but also enhances their skill set and thus makes them more employable in the future.
For some, fashion and development may seem like an unlikely match. But this is exactly what Schalmauer is: a combination of these two evolving industries. We believe that fashion can have a positive impact and offer a sustainable and market-driven solution to development.
Our aim is to produce, through the know-how and expertise of our talented artisans, a high-quality fashion product. You, as our customer and ambassador, will have the “feel good effect” you expect from the soft, warm, and luxurious feel of pashmina. This is our fashion promise to you. But you will also know that through your purchase, you contributed towards improving the overall working and living conditions of the Nepalese artisans. Towards providing education to women who can barely read or write. Towards enhancing the skills and knowledge of these artisans employed in the pashmina-making industry to ensure that they can sustain themselves and their families. Towards raising awareness of fair and ethical fashion. Towards supporting the movement for a more socially conscious fashion industry. And this “feel good” moment is what Schalmauer strives for.
Help us spread the Schalmauer story so that we, in turn, can do our part to empower, educate, and inspire our artisans... one scarf at a time!