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Thursday, 6 January 2011

Bishoptston trading and KV Kuppam

Preparing a warp, photo: Bishopston Trading

We planned a trip to K.V Kuppam, a collection of villages near to Vellore in Tamil Nadu to learn more about their work with Bishoptson Trading, a British company based in Bishopston, a village near Bristol.

Beginning as a twinning relationship in 1978, the two towns have developed a very unique relationship over the years. Arising from a need for work for the skilled handloom artisans in K.V Kuppam, Carolyn Whitwell, chair of the twinning committee, founded Bishopston Trading as a means of providing employment by generating products for sale in the UK. Creating a partnership between the two towns.

The mission statement of the company is to import directly from rural India with the sole aim of Fair Trading. Ensuring that workers receive good wages, conditions and long term employment. All items made in the tailoring units at K.V Kuppam are for Bishopston Trading and are sold through 5 retail outlets in the South West of England, online and by mail order.

We contacted Carolyn Whitwell as we really wanted to learn more about how this unique partnership works and see the skills of the weavers. Bishopston were really helpful and arranged for us to stay in the only local guest house. Very sadly only days before we were set to arrive a death in the guest house family meant we were unable to visit which was a terrible shame. However, we hope to visit Bishopston in England and learn more from them at a later date...we'll keep you posted.

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