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Working in India and Asia over the years, I have thought along the way about karma—and not just when I was dodging traffic in Jaipur! The idea of karma—your actions coming back to haunt or reward you in your next life—courses through Indian culture and through every Indian religion, so I couldn’t avoid thinking about it even if I wanted to. And I wanted to think about it. As an artist working in textiles for these many years, I have come across opportunities to help individuals, children, artisan groups, and others whom I thought could use a leg up for many different reasons.
I started with Aid to Artisans right when I started my company in my East Village apartment in 2001. They would call me up and say, “We have a project in Zimbabwe to review craft groups and assess their readiness for market. Would you like to fly over for two weeks?” What travel-hungry artist would say no? I jumped in, and got a lot of personal as well as creative fulfillment out of these projects.
A few years ago, I decided to rekindle working on my karma, and I started once again to help out in places where I thought I could. As a devoted fan of craft and design—and their makers—around the world, of course I am drawn to artisan groups, but also to schools and orphanages in India and Asia, as well as to charities in the United States where we can help make life a little better for some.