Published November 15, 2021 at 1:35pm.
Story by Mary Martin. Photos courtesy of Mallory Martin.
Mallory had heard the stories about modern day slavery. Her role at International Justice Mission (IJM) meant she was familiar with the statistics and outcomes, from research and rescue to aftercare and employment. She had traveled around the world, but when she stood in South Asia, among women who were free for the first time in years, Mallory envisioned what a new skill might mean for these women and their families.
And, like many others in the early pandemic days of 2020, that new skill began with a mask. “The women are caring for their families in new ways and freedom, however, it is still very, very difficult for them to find sustainable economic employment. I couldn’t stop thinking about it,” Mallory says. “And then COVID hit and I was still working full time for IJM, so I found out that a few of the women were sewing masks for their community members and businesses. And my husband and I talked about how cool it would be to have some of those masks.” Mallory ended up purchasing 1,000 masks, mostly to give away to friends and family. “I knew that this was the start of something significant. I could feel it in my soul,” Mallory says.
Several months later, in September, Mallory spoke with a good friend who told her about block printing, a method of stamping fabrics that has been practiced traditionally across Asia for centuries. After taking the idea of block printing to partners working with survivors of modern day slavery in south Asia, Mallory saw the potential of hand-printed linens as a business opportunity that would bring a new level of freedom.
A year later, Mended is bringing joyful linens to tables right here in Dallas. Mallory has worked with friends and artisans to design tablecloths, napkin sets, and hand towels that will help women learn a new skill and also bring a high-quality product to customers. “The vision is obviously to provide economic empowerment for more and more survivors each year and to bring those stories to the dining table,” Mallory says. “Restoration begins at your table. The survivors who made this product are provided with meaningful work, and now we want you to pour a glass of good wine, sit across from each other at the table, and have a meaningful conversation about where these linens came from or what’s going on in your life. There’s so much good that can happen at a dining table.”
Mended began with just six artisans, but now orders support 16 men and women who own a business creating the block-printed linens. As a for-profit company, Mended is working to set an example of what is possible when products go beyond fair-trade or fair-wage, to actually create connection between people and products. “The business world needs companies, for-profit companies that can prove that just because they are for-profit doesn’t mean they can’t make a significant impact on the world,” Mallory says.
If you would like to shop for Mended products for your own home, or as gifts, Mallory will be at several local holiday pop-up events including the Chi Omega Christmas Market, The Gifting Collective, and the Marche de Noel. Online shopping will open on Black Friday at mended.co.