The Surinamese Eastpak

Taking on new projects is always exciting ,but the hardest part is that these projects are full of challenges. And the only way to find out about these "challenges" is to open up those doors and go right through them.

About 2 months ago a new project entered our crossroad. We started to call it the schoolbag project. Several people in our circle started sharing a call-up for local tailors who like to sew school bags. Producing local handmade school bags in Suriname. Yas, this call-up shouts Talking Prints all over the place. We didn't hesitate a moment, and after a blink of an eye, we made contact with Patricia Etnel, a member of the Surinamese parliament who was in charge of the project.

We got signed for the project and off we went to the interior to bring the good news. Jobs opportunities coming your way ladies!
During these weeks we had to face some challenges and we love to give you a little insight.

Challenge 1
The first challenge we faced was the very tight deadline of delivering the schoolbags. In less than 5 weeks we had to produce 400 school bags. That's quite a challenge if you are producing in the interior.

Challenge 2
Because Talking Prints is located in the city and the women living in the interior, all the materials need to be transported to the villages.
Zoe and I can't drive up to the interior for 3 hours every time, because we still have a business to run. So we are working with local bus drivers. We prepare all the materials, try to make contact with bus drivers to find out if they are on a strike. Noooo not NOW!! Our deadline is ticking away. Or bus drivers who forget to pick up the produced items made by the women on the most crucial moments.

Challenge 3
When we start working with new women in the interior we always try to make a big group of participants, because you always deal with drop-outs. Taken on this project, I secretly hoped the ladies would keep motivated and just stick to the plan of successfully producing school bags.
Yup, it was wishful thinking. In the heat of the moment, people are dropping out. There goes our perfectly producing schedule. Back to the drawing board and try to reschedule the production plan, so we still finish in time.

Challenge 4
In the interior, the villages are facilitated with electricity. This makes it possible to get the sewing machines running. For us living in the city it's possible to lose electricity a few times a year, but in the interior it's quite common to lose electricity, it's part of the interior lifestyle. Dealing with tight ass deadlines and electricity problems in the interior was like an electric devil playing with the power switch. At the most crucial moments, the electricity decided to take a break and shut down the whole village, causing more delays in the production process.

Challenge 5
Working with the Maroon community we learned so much about their authentic lifestyle and their rituals. We don't want to interfere with their lifestyle too much. One of the rituals is called 6 weekie. When someone in the village passes away, the whole village comes together to remember and celebrate the life of the passed person. The preparation that goes into this special day is quite a lot. That's why all the women help to set everything into place and their sewing work becomes lowkey, causing delays in the production process.

Meeting up with all the challenges we still successfully managed the schoolbag project. Knowing that Surinamese kids are rocking our Surinamese version of the Eastpak, and at the same time creating job opportunities in the interior of Suriname, makes us forget about all the challenges and just pushes us to keep being creative.


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published