Anchal Project Uses Design to Empower Women Worldwide

WHO

Colleen Clines, Co-founder & CEO of Anchal Project

Maggie Clines, VP & Creative Director of Anchal Project

Louisville, KY



With backgrounds in design, sisters Colleen and Maggie draw inspiration from the vibrant visual stories found in architectural details and the powerful women in India, often exploring the connection between art and storytelling through their designs

photo: Anchal Project

photo: Anchal Project

WHAT

Anchal (pronounced on-chal) is an award-winning, non-profit social enterprise that uses design thinking to create innovative textile products and sustainable employment for exploited women worldwide. To date, we have provided alternative careers in textiles and design to over 400 women in Ajmer, India and 4 in Louisville, KY.


Our eco-friendly products are hand-crafted from certified organic cotton, vintage materials, low-impact, and natural dyes. Distinct contemporary design, heirloom craftsmanship and the maker's signature connect you to each artisan's journey to empowerment.

photo: Anchal Project

photo: Anchal Project

WHEN

Colleen earned her Master of Landscape Architecture degree from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 2010. During Colleen’s time in graduate school, she was inspired to start Anchal after traveling to India and learning about the extreme oppression women faced as commercial sex workers and the economic opportunity presented by the region's rich textiles.  

We felt compelled to take the project beyond the classroom with the conviction that our design training in collaboration with local leadership could address seemingly intractable social and environmental systems. The women we met became our sisters, sisters we had to fight for.
— Colleen Clines, Co-Founder & CEO

Shortly following the class trip to India, the co-founders raised $400 by selling handmade notebooks and notecards. These humble beginnings facilitated the purchase of a sewing machine, sewing instruction, materials, and a stipend for the artisans. During 2010, Anchal officially received 501(c)3 non-profit status in the United States and expanded the project by partnering with a second NGO, Vatsalya, in Ajmer, India.


In 2012 after graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from the University of Kentucky, Maggie Clines joined her sister Colleen to co-lead Anchal as Creative Director. Together with our partners and artisans, Anchal creates innovative programs and eco-friendly textiles that facilitate impact.

photo: Anchal Project

photo: Anchal Project

WHY

Anchal believes design can change lives. We use a holistic approach to our program that is designed to address the diverse needs of each individual artisan and equip them with the tools needed to leave the commercial sex trade and sustain dignified employment at Anchal and beyond.

By employing design thinking, Anchal has created an innovative solution that tackles both the social inequality faced by women and the environmental damages created by large-scale textile production. Anchal artisans are involved in every step of the design process creating award-winning products that are revolutionizing traditional kantha techniques into contemporary marketable goods. In turn, Anchal provides access to global markets to sell these goods. These profits are poured back into our program, providing funding for skills and design training, living wages, educational workshops, health services, and the restoration of confidence.

photo: Anchal Project

photo: Anchal Project

photo: Anchal Project

photo: Anchal Project

SUSTAINABLE

Anchal addresses both female exploitation and the harmful effects of the fashion industry by providing alternative employment opportunities in sustainable textiles to exploited women worldwide. We focus on eco-friendly products working to limit further environmental damage by using vintage fabric, certified organic cotton, natural and low impact dyes.

Additionally, by offering alternatives to dangerous and exploitative work, Anchal helps women rediscover their dignity, independence and creativity in a financially rewarding way. The program offers women design and skills training, full-time employment, educational workshops, health services, a supportive community and access to an international marketplace.

photo: Anchal Project

photo: Anchal Project

FAVORITE

Our quilted jackets! It was always a dream of mine to do custom clothing with our artisans, so seeing these designs come to life, and our customers styling them has been so fun.