Helping vulnerable women find support through a sewing circle, Flame Tree teaches and mentors its members in design and tailoring, and works towards weaving a caring network simultaneously. By utilising their new skills, the group has created a successful line of products, from cushions to children’s clothing, achieving both emotional support and an income that impacts their lives and the lives of their families.
Expertise in teak is one of the traditions that Myanmar is best known for and preserving this historic craftsmanship is Helping Hands, a social carpentry business that restores vintage teak furniture. Skilled artisans work along side former-street children, training them in the art of furniture restoration. Together they bring old, unloved furniture back to life. For Pomelo, Helping Hands have created a range of homeware items, from full-length mirror frames to carved jewellery boxes, using reclaimed teak wood.
Pann Nann Ein
These handmade cards have been created by people with physical and mental disabilities, helping them achieve sustainable livelihoods. The organisation works towards designing products that truly reflect the uniqueness of Myanmar as well as guaranteeing fair pay for its members for their work.
The secluded Selesian Sisters Orphanage is in the hills of Pyin Oo Lwin, in northern Myanmar, and cares for children of all ages. Older graduating students are trained in the art of sewing and tailoring and by selling products through the Pomelo marketplace in Yangon, the orphanage is able to fund the children’s food, education and healthcare.
Plan Bee Honey
For many families across Myanmar smallholdings don’t provide sufficient income, meaning that members have to leave home to find work elsewhere. To reduce this, farmers from 20 different villages in Southern Shan have been trained in the art of beekeeping. By producing organic honey and honey-based balms they improve their livelihoods, nutrition and food security whilst also benefits Myanmar’s ecosystems. Most importantly, being part of this community-based enterprise means they no longer have to leave their families.
This hand made range of jewellery is crafted by a group of women with disabilities living on the outskirts of Yangon. Amazing Grace provides training in all aspects of jewellery making as well as encouraging the use of recycled materials. This women’s empowerment group offers a regular and sustainable income to its members.
La Min papier-mâché
These bright papier-mâché animals are traditionally used as pagoda offerings in Myanmar. Hla Min Papier-Mâché is a family business, which began in 2009, with a father making small toys for his son. As their popularity grew, it became a business that now employs thirty people across three locations.
Rescuing women from the sex trafficking industry in Asia’s red light districts, Eden continually innovate prevention and outreach programmes, funded by their jewellery business. Providing career and vocational training, they work towards empowering women for a new life and future.
Supporting the hand weaving traditions practiced at Inle Lake, Sunflower works with artisan weavers to make shawls using silk, lotus and cotton. They are then coloured with natural dyes from fruit, roots, and flowers, preserving skills that have been perfected over centuries.
Pokkoku Basket Weavers
In a remote village in the dry zone outside Bagan, these plastic baskets have been made for many generations. It is a community effort, with every house in the village taking part in the weaving process. Supplying these baskets to Pomelo provides a stable income for the village and an opportunity to collaborate on new designs and develop their traditional products.
The Blind School
Using touch alone, this rattan weaving is made by blind men who learnt from master weavers to create intricate and beautiful work. The School for the Blind in Yangon provides education for young students, vocational training and employment for adults. The school offers incredible resources to blind students, including the technology to convert any storybook into brail.
Chu Chu Plastic
This cooperative of men and women, across many generations, aims to raise awareness on the importance of recycling. Based across the river in Dala, Yangon, Chu Chu reuses old plastic packaging to create new colourful bags. As a result, their work improves the lives of the people within the collective, as well as the environment.
FXB provides a livelihoods and support to vulnerable women. In addition to learning vocational tailoring skills, the women are offered psychosocial support and a wide range of health and business related training courses. By creating women friendly spaces, a caring mutual help network between women is improving the life of the whole community.
Sone Tu Weaving
The Sonetu organization works directly with different Chin ethnic group members to preserve a living cultural identity, believing that by providing economic opportunities and encouraging self-employment, the quality of life of both Sonetu individuals and the entire Chin community will benefit. The Sonetu organization believes that by preserving Chin cultural heritage and incorporating the Chin people's traditional identity in the modern world, it can deconstruct perceptions that stereotype and discriminate against Chin people. At the same time, Sonetu inspires individuals unfamiliar with Chin ethnicity to both understand and respect Chin history, culture, and traditions.
Shan Cherry is a cooperative of women from Shan State villages near Lashio. The villagers grow their own organic seasonal fruit on their farms. The women then produce home made jam using only the freshest fruit and a touch of sugar. No additives or preservatives. Safe and delicious! The jam production enables the women to generate vital income to support the village.
Sein Nar Gar Glass
Across Yangon, street collectors will visit different houses offering to buy used glass bottles. Sein Nar Garr recycles these into a beautiful range of hand blown glassware. With the combination of upcycling and handcraft, each product carries its own unique character and tells the story of reform in Myanmar.
MBoutik works with some of the poorest communities living in the dry zone outside Bagan. In an effort to conserve traditional Myanmar craft, young women are trained in rattan weaving. The work is incredibly skilled and time consuming, with a small bowl taking a whole day to weave. The result is a beautiful piece of traditional rattan craftsmanship, with a twist of contemporary Pomelo colour.
Myanmar Clay Works
These cheerful little pots have travelled a long way to brighten up your home. Created across the river in Twante by Myanmar Clay Works, a cooperative group of potters who share resources, income and education, the candleholders were then hand painted by former street children at Helping Hands. At Pomelo we encourage cross collaboration between our artisan groups.
Pomelo works toward the 10 International Fair Trade Principles.