Hope for Sale | The Reader's Guide Feature | Chicago Reader

Hope for Sale 

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Pushpika Freitas came to the United States as a DePaul University sociology graduate student. In 1986, after earning a master's degree, she returned to India with a plan to turn some of the country's most disadvantaged women into communal entrepreneurs. Freitas and her sister, Lalita Monteiro, set up a nonprofit organization that started with 3 women and now works with nearly 500. The Evanston-based MarketPlace: Handwork of India currently sells products made by 14 self-governed women's cooperatives to customers in the United States, both wholesale and through its catalog. A few of the co-ops make MarketPlace's exclusive, hand-printed cotton fabrics; others turn those fabrics into household goods and classic, comfortable clothing, much of it hand embroidered. Most of the artisans work at home, where they can watch their children, and meet as a group about once a week. MarketPlace provides training and support, encourages community activism, and pays a "fair trade" (or living) wage, which spokesperson Ellyn Peterson says might be about three times the going rate in their area. Their catalog is available at www.marketplaceindia.com, but this weekend MarketPlace is having a "warehouse" sale with deep discounts on their already modest prices. Expect to find hand-blocked batiks and tie-dyes made into tablecloths, comforter covers, skirts, jackets, shirts, and more. The sale runs from 12 to 4 Friday, April 4, and 10 to 4 Saturday, April 5, at Saint Nicholas Catholic Church, 806 Ridge in Evanston. MarketPlace will also be at the International Quilt Show at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 N. River Road in Rosemont, from 10 to 7 April 11 and 12 and from 11 to 5 April 13. Admission to the quilt show is $10; call 800-726-8905 for more information.

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