Meet our Craftspeople
Our intention is to bring fulfilment and positive change to everyone who comes in contact with The Shakti Mat - starting with production. All Shakti products are handmade in India in ways that are conducive to our craftspeople and their well-being. Your purchase empowers people and traditions - allowing families in India to thrive.
The home of The Shakti Mat and the heart of our production lies in the holy city of Varanasi. In the rural outskirts of the city, Shakti Mats are handmade by 72 women in an all-female purpose-built workshop. It is all-female due to the difficulty women find getting employment here. The word ‘Shakti’ in Sanskrit is a feminine principle and symbolises empowerment, abundance and change. It is with these principles that the workshop is run.
All women at the workshop are paid a living wage, sick leave and holiday leave. They are provided daily meals and puja, free medical care, and an emergency medical fund for them and their families. We have begun funding private schooling for 8 daughters of our employees and will continue to increase this number.
Through the Varanasi workshop, we aspire to provide space where welfare and community take priority over production and where employees are empowered and treated as equals, regardless of caste. The space is growing with renovations and soon we hope to have space for 200 women here. View the video at the bottom of this page to see inside the workshop.
"I feeI like I’m part of a family, all these women are like my sisters. We are all from different castes and religions but all of us are treated equally, there is no discrimination between us. I feel as if I belong here, people are affectionate as well as helpful and then there is the amazing work we do. I feel very dedicated to this place, it feels like my real home.”
- Geeta (32)
"It’s a woman-only place here and we work like a family. I can’t think of working somewhere else. It's an amazing place to work and I’m fortunate to be here. I like that the customers buy the mats I make. I’m always worried that the spikes hurt people when they lie on it, but what I make here is for a good purpose, it's good for the body."
- Shakuntala (22)
“I’m so happy that I am making something that benefits others. I like the fact that what I make is being used all over the world, I feel very proud of this. My mother first came here and figured out the place and she was so happy that she sent me here. She likes the fact that I am working in a place where it's only women. I have such nice friends here and I can open my heart and talk about anything with them."
- Nivedita (22)
"It's really like a family here, we share each other’s thoughts and there are no differences, everyone is equal. Since I came here my confidence has enhanced for sure. I’m independent now and everyone is proud of me. I would like to write to all the respected customers to tell them how we are working here and to thank them. Because of them my life has changed for good"
- Suman (22)
Want to read the full Varanasi interviews?
Click here to download the PDF
With the growth of Shakti we now also produce with a family business in Delhi, India. We have a long-standing and personal relationship with the craftspeople here, as this is where we first sourced our Shakti spikes.
All employees in Delhi are paid above the living wage, overtime pay, end of year bonuses, and are supported with ESI medical insurance for them and their families. In March 2020 Team Shakti rapidly distributed €10,000 directly to our employees in Delhi to assist in supporting themselves and their families through the uncertain period. We are diligently working to extend the same values of meaningful employment we pride ourselves on in Varanasi.
In 2021, we aim to visit Delhi to create interviews, photos, and share the Delhi story with our community. Unfortunately, COVID prevented our planned trip in March 2020, but we plan to visit India as soon as possible to share this story.
As our business has grown, we acknowledge the value of independent audits. We are currently working with SMETA certifiers for our entire supply chain to get official certification for socially responsible manufacture. We will continue to strive towards doing the best by everyone who comes in contact with The Shakti Mat.