At Radical Yes we have a mission to relentlessly pursue projects that support the work of creative women everywhere. We also have a fond love for all things small batch and unique. The work of Among Equals presented a unique opportunity to blend these two values seamlessly.
A project bought to life by Philanthropist Caroline Sherman, Among Equals work directly with women from PNG to provide a source of income through the sale of the distinctive Bilum bag.
In Caroline’s own words -
“There is something so amazing and unique about each bag – each one has its own meaning and its own story. The women tell stories as they weave. For instance, when you get married your mother weaves you a diamond-design Bilum, when you own a piece of land you receive a mountain design. There are fertility symbols, animals, guns, poker machines, computers and even 2 Minute noodles! Every bag has its own narrative.”
The Among Equals approach recognises the artisanal quality of every bag and the many hours of workmanship put into them. Each piece is absolutely one-of-a-kind unique, and labelled with the artist story.
In real life the colours in these hand-made beauties are nothing short of magical. Palettes that could only be conceived without the interference of popular culture (and social media feeds) or the hand of art school training that we in the West are indelibly immersed in.
The bags are treated as artworks to the point that Caroline commissioned a series of beautiful cast iron stands sculpted to present each bag not only for the artwork that each is, but also to present them in a more modern context.
Asides from being incredibly magical in palette and pattern, most importantly the sale of these bags makes a real difference to the women of PNG that Among Equals are working with. The income from the sale of the bags is used to send the weavers children to school (previously the boys were the only ones attending), improving healthcare, getting food on the table and improving the general welfare of the women makers in the community. Among Equals are currently working with approxiamately 100 weavers with a goal to work with 500 weavers in 5 years.
To date the work of the brand has stretched across three communities and also funded the construction of The Blue Haus, a safe shelter for the women to weave and produce Bilum bags.
We are so proud to be the first Melbourne stockist of this visionary brand.
You can see the bags as featured in our ‘Out In Space’ AW18 lookbook on sale in The Fitting Salon, 554 Queensberry Street North Melbourne and also buy from our online selection here.
Find out more about Among Equals here.
All images courtesy of Among Equals.