When we launched Toockies on the Grommet in May 2012, we were inspired by Anna Marie Stauss’ story. Her company employs 270 women in Nabapur, India to knit beautiful, functional, and eco-friendly dish scrubs at Fair Trade wages. The company was founded from Anna Marie’s drive to eliminate human trafficking in the region, for many women were forced to turn to this in desperation.
Toockies still employs the 270 women, many of them now full time and earning higher wages than their husbands. The business has also expanded into another region nearby, Atcara. Atcara has a unique reputation in the area; the villagers have gypsy heritage and they are known for their ability to sing to snakes. This unfamiliarity makes it difficult for the people of Atcara to find work, other villages in India tend to fear the people. The six coaches in the village are being trained now, and Anna Marie plans to hire an additional 36 women to knit by the end of the year.
When I asked Anna Marie about the impact a purchase makes on her employees, she told me an anecdote about a woman named Aysha. Aysha had been left by her husband and was seen as damaged by the community, all while struggling to support her elderly parents. After four years working with Toockies, she now makes enough money to support her parents and has thrived in her position. Her job gives her meaning, a sense of worth, and she works extra hours at the community center to support others who do not have the same freedom that she does. She’s never been happier.
When we asked Anna Marie what she would like her epitaph to read, she replied “I gave my all for love and in the hope of a more humane world.”
Thank you, Grommet community, for supporting the women that knit for Toockies, and for helping Anna Marie in her dedication to create a more humane world. Your purchases can, and do, make a difference.
To learn more about Toockies, watch our video here.