Block Shop is a sister-run textile studio based in Los Angeles and Jaipur. Our entire process is manual: we design on paper, print with wooden blocks, and dye in small batches. We invest 5% of annual profits in our Bagru women’s empowerment program.
Block Shop started as an art project in 2010 when Lily Stockman, a painter, was living in Jaipur studying miniature painting. A mutual friend introduced her to the Chhipas, who ran a small block printing studio in Bagru. Lily began skipping her painting classes and taking a taxi to Bagru to hang out with the Chhipa family and learn more about block printing and natural dyes, all the while texting pictures to her younger sister Hopie, also a trained painter, who was working in a corporate job back in the US. Lily began block printing oversized geometric compositions on sari yardage with input via back-of-spreadsheet sketches texted from Hopie– and our first scarf was born.
Hopie saved up her vacation days and visited the Chhipas soon after, and over the next three years the sisters traveled back and forth to Jaipur to visit the family, prototype new designs, and experiment with natural dyes. While in graduate school the sisters borrowed five thousand dollars from their mom (thanks mom!) to place their first order and build a simple website. blockshoptextiles.com went live just in time for the holidays in 2013, and sold out in two days thanks to a blog post on Design Sponge (thanks Grace!). We paid our mom back, moved to an old bank building in downtown Los Angeles, and have grown organically ever since.
Block Shop now works in partnership with three different families of master printers (Chhipa is the printing caste in Northern India, and translates to block carver or block printer), as well as two family-run weaving organizations in Jaipur and Panipat. Block Shop is a family business spanning two continents. We are committed to supporting the rich traditions of block carving, printing, dyeing, and weaving.
Our mission is to make heirloom textiles that have high social benefit and low environmental impact. We are deeply committed to our community of textile artists, which for Block Shop means adhering to the following practices:
- FAIR WAGES. We pay fair wages, which we define as 30-100% above local market piece rates depending on skill level and experience.
- FIVE PERCENT. We invest 5% of our annual net profits in our Bagru women’s empowerment program, which is focused on women’s health, education, and skills training.
- COMMUNITY-DRIVEN. We design our empowerment programs based on needs assessments we conduct in Bagru alongside our locally-based Community Manager.
- WOMEN FIRST. Our 5% is focused on the women of Bagru. After three years of conducting needs assessments and running 200 person community-wide health camps, we determined that men’s and women’s health and education needs differed dramatically, and that we would focus our efforts on the community’s more vulnerable demographic.
- MEASUREMENT. We seek to measure our women’s empowerment program via informal interviews conducted once a year, to determine whether the initiative has had its intended impact. We record changes in family-level income, perception of self-worth, education levels of children, and health status of family.
SUPPORT. Our Bagru women’s empowerment program is instituted via monthly Women's Support Group meetings, which has been running for over a year. Each month, we focus on a different aspect of women's health education, financial education, skills development and empowerment, often bringing in experts from Jaipur to provide training & teaching. We are proud to say that this group is nearly self-organizing.
TO DATE WE'VE PROVIDED
500+ primary care check-ups, 68 pairs of glasses, 8 cataract surgeries, 18 UV/RO water filters installed at the homes of each family in our cooperative, 12 Women's Support Group Meetings, 2 women & children writing contests focused on self-worth, 2 women’s printing contests (winning design went into production and winner was paid a design fee), 1 women’s block design contest, 1 women’s & children essay contest focused on daily life, 1 women’s & children essay contest focused on achieving goals and dreams.
p.s. our favorite Women's Support Group moment
Hopie runs Block Shop in our Downtown Los Angeles studio, and is equal parts business operations and textile designer. She studied English literature and painting at Brown University. After five years working in investment consulting, she went to Harvard Business School with the goal of learning the building blocks for running a socially responsible business. Hopie lives in the sleepy hills of Northeast LA.
Lily is a visual artist and is Block Shop’s design and branding guru. After studying painting at Harvard, she moved to Jaipur for a year for painting apprenticeship in 2010. She received her MFA in studio art from NYU and was a teaching fellow at Harvard before moving to Los Angeles. Lily splits her time between the Eastside of Los Angeles and Joshua Tree.
Yvette Yonan is our Studio & Operations Manager, and oversees Block Shop's inventory, fulfillment, and customer service. She's probably the one answering your nice email. Yvette graduated with a bachelor's degree in neuroscience from California State University, Long Beach. She has a background in social enterprise and runs Remnant International, a nonprofit that empowers women in northern Uganda through trade.
Sonia Jain is the Community Manager in Bagru and brings with her a decade of experience working as an advocate for rural workers in northwestern India, with an emphasis on women's empowerment. Sonia oversees fair wages, quality control, business management, and all community initiatives for Block Shop Textiles.