Questions

We get thrown all sorts of curly questions about what we do and how we do it and even how Bholu came to be and what is means…..here are some answers to your questions.

If something you want to know is not answered here, feel free to email us!

We love food for thought.

Is Bholu a Fair Trade Company and what does this mean?

Yes, Bholu is a Fair Trade Company and operates to the 10 Standards of Fair Trade. Please find a downloadable version of 10 Standards of Fair Trade Bholu Pty Ltd 2007 here.

How did Bholu start?

The Bholu seed was planted in 2001 when Jodie, Bholu’s founder was living in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India on an artists residency. On January 26th 2001, a devastating earthquake hit Gujarat measuring 6.9 on the Richter Scale, the epicenter of the quake was in Bhuj, in The Great Rann of Kaatchch where all the traditional artisans live.  Soon after, she found herself in the villages of the Kaatchhi communities helping rebuild their villages and learning traditional painting on their new bungs ( round mud brick houses), with natural mud colour paints. Adorned in colourful Gujarati fabrics, and bangles up to their armpits, these Kaatchchhi women are known for their amazing hand embroidery and sure enough, she fell in love with them and their incredible traditional handiwork.  Jodie lived in India for 2 years, travelling back when she could, but the seed only started to sprout in June 2004 when she approached these women with her designs and fabric to do some sampling. Bholu products have been in stores since September 2005.

What does “Bholu” mean?

“Bholu” is a Kaatchchhi term of endearment to a small child. It is often used from a grandparent towards a grandchild like, my “little bambino”. The women found it highly amusing that we had come all the way from Australia to get them to do such simple designs. They thought that the designs were something similar to the drawings of their Bholu!  It is also descriptive of childlike expressions. Jodie acquired the name “Bholu Didi” ( Didi meaning older sister) and the name kinda stuck!

Is Bholu’s embroidery always hand done?

Yes, all the embroidery is done with cotton, silk, wool or organdie thread and is all hand stitched onto the felt using one traditional embroidery technique. There are no production lines of commercial manufacturers, even the tailors who do the machine stitching of zips and edgings use a foot pedal sewing machine and do it in their homes.  Bholu products are proudly made to the highest of quality in all aspects of production.

Where does the felt come from?

The felt is made especially for Bholu in Gujarat from Australian wool. The felt is made by means of stretching and layering the wool and it is then compressed. After the felt is thick enough, it is dyed and then calendered (rolled with an oil) to prevent pilling and the colour running.

How do I clean them and will they pill?

All Bholu products are dry clean only, as they are handmade from different natural fibres. To spot clean just use a damp cloth to sponge the stained area. The calendering prevents any deep staining as it is a form of oil coating and also stops the fabric pilling.

What are the cushion inserts made from and how do I look after them?

The cushion inserts are made from 80% feather and 20% Microlon. The feather gives it a great weight and softness and the  microlon helps it spring back into shape. Make sure you fluff up your cushions, as feather needs to be fluffed up occasionally otherwise it will stay flat, but some people like them like this too.

Does each piece look different if they are handmade?

Yes and no. The designs and the colours are exactly the same, but there will be slight variations in the handiwork as each of the women has a different hand. It is like making a cake from the same recipe, each cake will taste slightly different depending on who cooked it. But this is in fact exactly what makes Bholu so unique!

How much of Bholu’s price tag goes back to the women?

The women artisans are paid approximately 25% of the cost price for the product. The other 75% goes to the outsourced costs of felt production, the thread costs, dying, raw materials and importing costs. The women are paid very well for what they do and it keeps them with their own independent income.

What conditions do the women work in?

The women can either work in their homes or in a house set up in the city. The artisans are often generations of women who have passed down the skills of their handiwork from one woman to another.  The environments in which they work are harmonious and the women tend to work together in a social gathering.

Why does Bholu not use the women’s traditional designs?

Although the traditional designs are very beautiful, Bholu decided to use their skills in a different more simple way by extracting one stitch from the many intricate traditional stitches that makes one detailed traditional piece. Bholu designs are modern and contemporary but are rendered with a traditional hand. We found this fusion of western, contemporary design with the methods and techniques of the west, a very beautiful and interesting collaboration.

Is Bholu a charity organisation?

No, Bholu is not a charity organisation, it is merely run on the love of India and its people and the exciting collaboration of artisans. However, Bholu set up the Bholu Anganwadi Project where we have built 8 schools and have 2 more under construction. Part proceeds from the sale of the products along with our company time and resources go to running this project, which is purely funded by Bholu support and donations. See Bholuland for more details