Happy People, Happy Planet: The Story of Khushi Kantha
We all want our children to inherit a healthy planet. Khushi Khantha’s new baby blankets are both environmentally and socially sustainable.
It was becoming a mother and learning about sustainable parenting practices that inspired me to start my own social enterprise promoting a shift from take-make-waste to reclaim-repurpose-reuse.
For me, true sustainability has always also been about people – ensuring my decisions and purchases provide fair income and long-term livelihoods.
Khushi Kantha (which translates as ‘Happy Blanket’) creates sustainable, multi-purpose baby blankets while also supporting Bangladeshi suppliers and craftspeople living below the poverty line. As practical as they are pretty, they can be serve pretty much every function on a parents’ daily to-do list!
As well as being used in the nursery and pram, they can function as sun shades, breastfeeding covers and mini playmats, both inside the home and while out and about…. and even act as makeshift changing mats when the need arises!
Embroidered with empowerment, from mother to mother: how Khushi Kantha was born
As a social enterprise, Khushi Kantha’s mission is to build better futures for the next generation. We’re partnering with mothers in Bangladesh who are struggling to provide for their children with dignity.
I first moved to Bangladesh in 2009, and I’ve lived there on and off ever since. It’s been my long-standing dream to use everything I’ve learned to create opportunities for other mothers whose position I could easily be in myself if circumstances were different.
Time and time again, I’ve been amazed by the resilience and generosity of Bangladeshi mothers living below the poverty line, and it’s been a long-standing ambition of mine to use everything I’ve learned over the past twelve years to start my own initiative, working directly with the women whose position I could be in if my circumstances were different.
When I became pregnant while working on the humanitarian response to the Rohingya refugee crisis in Cox’s Bazar, I couldn’t stop thinking about all the opportunities my daughters would have, and how unfair it was that other mothers couldn’t give their children everything they deserve.
When my half-British, half-Bangladeshi twin daughters were born, they were gifted a large collection of traditional ‘kantha’ blankets, handmade with love by my mother- and sister-in-law, with support from the local community.
I soon realised the blankets’ numerous uses, and their vibrant colours and striking stitching drew compliments wherever they went. I realised there could be a market for them – and the idea for ‘Khushi Kantha’ was born!
Regenerating the ‘kantha’ tradition: Khushi Kantha’s blankets
‘Kantha’ (which translates as “stitched cloth”) refers to the Bengali tradition of mothers repurposing their old cotton saris into ultra-soft, multi-layered blankets for their babies.
Khushi Kantha is reworking the traditional ‘kantha’ approach to meet global hygiene and safety standards, while retaining the principles of reclaim-repurpose-reuse and bringing Bangladesh’s rich handmade textiles heritage to a wider audience.
I’m partnering with sustainability-minded members of the Bangladeshi garments industry which is famous for rescuing ‘deadstock’ fabric which would otherwise go to waste.
We use it to form the inside layers of our blankets. Because the fabric was originally intended to make garments for Western countries, it has been subjected to the strict safety testing processes required for baby products.
The outside layers of our blankets are made from traditional handloom fabric, dyed using certified colourfast natural dyes.
Khushi Kantha crowdfunder!
We’re now running a crowdfunding campaign to raise £10,000 in order to create our first collection of ‘Happy Blankets’ and start creating opportunities for mothers in Bangladesh to provide for their children with dignity, while contributing to the circular economy.
My daughters, our partners in Bangladesh and I would be delighted if you became a part of our journey!