April 12, 2016

About Jennifer's Hamam's Weavers

The collage of faces seen here, shows just a few of the many artisans that weave for Jennifer's Hamam. It's taken Jennifer years to collect these few pictures due to the contempt most of the weavers have for the camera.

From the outside, it's not easy to understand why they don't want their photo taken.  If you examine the swift decline of the art, you'll find that business turned extremely competitive. These conditions saw some colleagues and even family members resort to undesirable and hurtful business practices in the hopes of crushing competition in the name of self preservation. Every person that Jennifer has spoken to has stories of how someone tried to hurt them and their business. The result of this dark period of wane and the unpleasantness  was fear and paranoia regarding design stealing and theft of other ideas, including of how to run a successful workshop. This anxiety and uneasiness is still a very real thing in the current workshops that reveals itself especially when the camera is brought out or the suggestion of visitors

In spite of the weaver's refusal to let Jennifer take pictures freely, bring in the press, or even lone visitors, somehow the quality they create and client word of mouth has helped to expand the art and get artisans who had long since gone bankrupt back to working on looms again.

At the inception of Jennifer's Hamam 7 years ago, the few remaining weavers were on the brink of bankruptcy; despair and depression filled their hearts, which meant creative thought was virtually void. Jennifer felt the choice to keep these artisans independant would build a better future as business improved, allowing them to be proud again, which in turn would allow their artistic expression to shine again.  It's proven to have been one of the best business decisions made. The artisans she works with take pride in their work and are starting to experiment with what else is possible on the looms.

Over the years, a handful of weavers have shown themselves as being capable to run larger workshops, for the most part Jennifer works solely with these main people. She buys all the threads herself to ensure quality control and visits the head weavers on a regular basis to provide them with new designs and to check that they are keeping up to her standards for not only product quality, but also the workshops themselves and the treatment of the individuals working in the workshops.

Full article available here

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