Women Who Make Beautiful Things
The Mission: To provide steady work at above-fair-trade rates for disadvantaged artisans (mostly women).
The Spark: Dana Arbib (a Libyan Jew) met Farah Malik (a Pakistani Muslim) at a wedding in Italy in 2007 and hit it off; back home in New York City, they brainstormed ways to become their own bosses. Starting in Pakistan, Malik says, "we worked with family-operated, backyard cottage industries, bringing in looms and thread to get the artisans back up and running."
The Hurdles: In Pakistan, Malik got malaria; in war-ravaged Afghanistan, they had to arrange a fabric airlift. Creative challenges crop up, too. "To achieve a faded black scarf, we told the Afghani women, 'Imagine your burka has been out in the desert sun for 45 days,'" Malik recalls. "It took eight tries to get it, because they couldn't comprehend why anyone would want that!"
The Spirit: "Just as the two of us have transcended our political and cultural differences, A Peace Treaty tries to transcend obstacles to create something beautiful," Arbib says. "For us, fashion is about knowing whose hands have created the piece, where it came from, and what that took." — Brooke Kosofsky Glassberg
Left: Alpaca-and-silk blend in rich fall colors by indigenous Bolivian knitters ($320).
Middle: Dip-dyed silk from a Pakistani co-op of widows and disabled women ($125).
Right: Cotton scarves from Kabul—look for the artisan's name stitched in one corner ($290).