The Lace Ladies
Victoria D’Angelo, founder of Global Products Placement describes the women on her work teams in South India as “proud and industrious.” These women, now 120 strong and known as the “Lace Ladies” prefer to embrace work rather than receive charity. “It empowers them to produce for us,” D’Angelo noted. The women speak Tamil, a native dialect and often have been known to walk for miles to work site destinations such as twig broom, or smoked cashew factories. They inhabit a region where rubber trees are abundant, and homes where basic supplies like pots, bowls and even paper products are very limited. D’Angelo explains that in these regions of South India, the quality of life collapses to the lowest level if a woman is without paying work. Although the women often sleep on mats and are malnourished, they look forward to a day of work and the creativity involved in lace making, as well as the profits that will elevate the quality of their lives and help their families survive. Without socially responsible entrepreneurs like Victoria D’Angelo and her business partner, Aruna Seth of Chennai, India, these women would be unable to develop their businesses, and be forced to continue a marginal existence. Global Products Placement Project specializes in sourcing international economically disadvantaged working groups, and assisting them in developing marketable products. In addition, the company helps in increasing their distribution and revenue.
Through a collaboration with Holy Orders, a company offering products hand crafted at monasteries, the traditional hand made Cluny and Venetian lace created by the Lace Ladies will be one of their featured products in the form of a “Bless You” handkerchief.
The skill of lace making was first introduced to the South India region in the 1800’s by Roman Catholic nuns from Belgium. The Lace Ladies mainly inhabit the villages of Kallavukai, Kallankuzhi and Manthancode. Now through the dedication of D’Angelo and her business partner, Aruna Seth, 20 ladies are scheduled to start teaching Venetian lace making to the work teams in the region. Although the Tsunami devastated the areas where the women lived and forced them to move, many have returned to resume lace making.
D’Angelo asserts her challenging endeavor in South India is a “labor of love” on her part, after a successful career in design and marketing, and the world of high-volume retailing. “In this stage of my career, helping preserve an art, develop something that has not been done before seems right. I feel a sense of responsibility. These women are part of my community,” she said.
Apart from lace making, Global Products Placement Project is expanding to include embroidery, beading and sewing. In the last 6-8 months since the project was launched once again, the Lace Ladies have been learning new skills and growing. At first, the teams worked in makeshift surroundings, but recently, the company purchased land in South India to build a headquarters. “We have to raise money to build it,” D’Angelo said.
The Global Products Placement Project deserves our enthusiastic support not only for the endeavor to preserve a dying art, but also for sincere efforts to better the lives of women and families in developing nations, and for giving the women a creative outlet to foster hope in their individual lives.
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