Barbara Sansoni, designer, artist and writer, founded Barefoot, over 40 years ago, after an invitation to design fabrics for a weaving workshop teaching local impoverished Sri Lankan women to weave. Her involvement in this workshop, held in a convent located north of Colombo, laid the ground work for Sansoni's creative vision and development of the company. Barefoot began as a rehabilitation program for young Sri Lankan woman who had limited education and marketable skills. Over the decades, Barefoot grew into a collaborative organization consisting of a small group of dedicated designers and a devoted network of dyers, weavers, and highly skilled needlewomen.
ETHICAL: Barefoot stayed true to their roots and employs almost exclusively women who work in small rural weaving centers. These centers are cooperative endeavors and were thoughtfully conceived and located near the craftswomen's villages so precious resources and time are not spent commuting into cities. The rural craftswomen are paid well and earn a sustainable income. The work environments are ethical. There is never any forced or child labor employed nor sweat shop conditions. Barefoot opposes exploitative practices. Although Barefoot is not fair trade certified, the entire organization is founded upon and operated by fair trade principles. Fair trade is not charity but instead a model that ensures fair wages, and ethical work environments, for masterful craftsmanship.
The craftswomen are treated with respect and dignity. Everyone involved is valued and embraced as a part of the Barefoot family. The women thrive on knowing their contributions are appreciated and their personal development is as equally important. Dyeing, weaving, and sewing skills are taught, providing marketable skills, along with organizational and managerial skills. This instills a sense of empowerment and self respect. We extend our own respect to the craftswoman by including a descriptive tag, with each product, honoring the artisans and their incredible workmanship. Occasionally, we receive a product with the maker's name written on a piece of tape, we leave that tape on to honor the craftswoman. If you receive one like this, consider yourself lucky!
All Barefoot products are hand made from start to finish by one person. There is never any mass production nor factory production cycles. Low tech, sustainable methods are used and everything is hand made to perfection. Conceptually this embraces the values of quality over quantity, a refreshing entity in a world where labor and products are often viewed as disposable commodities. These crafts skills are timeless and this vision keeps alive the dying art of weaving, dyeing, and needlework, and supports cultures and their traditional crafts.
ECO: Barefoot products are completely hand made, each one-of-a-kind, and no two are alike. The cotton is hank dyed, a labor intensive process, but it has the least damaging effect on the fibers and ensures the final colors are richer than other dyeing methods. A skein of yarn is looped over a hook and dipped into a dye vat, for numerous hours, washed and re-dipped until color penetration is maximized. It is a manual dyeing process which takes more time than most other dyeing methods but results in a finer quality finished product.
The materials used by Barefoot are safe for people and our planet. Barbara Sansoni trained with a dye master in Switzerland to develop the appropriate dyes for her designs. Barefoot uses a palette of 63 different color shades of eco-friendly cibacron F/FN dyes for their fabrics. These premium Swiss dyes are ecological, color fast, and child safe even for little mouths and little hands. Because they are colorfast the dyes do not bleed or run. After the natural cotton is hank dyed with the non-toxic pigments, it is hand woven on large wooden looms. Barefoot creates a variety of hand loomed sustainable cotton fabrics and all are vibrant, bold, stylish and durable. Care instructions: Toys-hand wash cold, air dry. Animal clothes-machine wash cold, line or spin dry. Placemats-machine wash cold, line or spin dry.
The toys are firmly filled with a natural plant fiber from the kapok tree found in forests of Southeast Asia and Middle America. The fibers found in seed pods are air dried and kapok skips the chemicals. There is no reason to chemically treat kapok because the fibrous material has a naturally bitter constitution with anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties, therefore moths, mites and other organisms cannot infest the filling. This silky, cotton like floss is hypoallergenic, non toxic and odorless. Kapok is a sustainable resource because the trees grow naturally in the wild. It is a natural and biodegradable stuffing perfectly paired with the ecological Barefoot toys.
Each toy holds the European Safety Standard CE Certificate. A few years ago, Mothering magazine, published in the USA, featured Barefoot toys as some of the best natural, "green," fair trade and high quality toys. If you are interested in eco-friendly, fair trade ethics and hand made products that embody the vibrancy of human creativity and human touch, then you have found your match with the exquisite Barefoot products!