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Bags Of Hope And Resilience

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In the currently global political climate, knowing what to do, or how to help on issues you care about can seem overwhelming. But as Alexandria Orcasio-Cortez has shown, it IS possible to make a difference, even if you just start small!

We chat with designer Karishma Kasabia of Khòlò about her tote bag collaboration with Laura Blythman, Megan Weston and Peaches & Keen, which is raising money for the ASRC, to coincide with Refugee Week.

30th May, 2019

Karishma Kasabia of Khòlò  (standing, center) with artists Laura Blythman; Lily Zielinski and Lucy Hearn (from Peaches + Keen) and Megan Weston. Photo – Helena la Petite, Styling – Beckie Little.

Peaches & Keen bag for Khòlò. Photo – Helena la Petite, Styling – Beckie Little.

Megan Watson with her tote design, inspired by hope and resilience. Photo – Helena la Petite, Styling – Beckie Little.

The three totes will raise money for people seeking asylum in Australia, with all profits going to the ASRC. Photo – Helena la Petite, Styling – Beckie Little.

Megan Weston has previously partners with Qantas and in 2018 was commissioned by Christian Dior to create works for their boutiques. Photo – Helena la Petite, Styling – Beckie Little.

Laura Blythman and her vibrant tote design. Photo – Helena la Petite, Styling – Beckie Little.

The colourful brights of Peaches and Keen. Photo – Helena la Petite, Styling – Beckie Little.

Miriam McGarry
Thursday 30th May 2019

‘I wanted to help, I hope this brings some light to your day’ – Karishma Kasabia.

Karishma Kasabia is a designer and mum based in Melbourne, who has spent her life across three countries: Fiji, New Zealand and Australia. She describes ‘I was born in Fiji, of Indian descent and of New Zealand nationality.’ Karishma migrated to New Zealand after a government coup in 2000, into a different culture, lifestyle, and whole new set of reference points of what was ‘normal.’

From radio stations, to street signs, everything was different, including the body shape of the girls Karishma went to school with. This experience helped to inform the development of Karishma’s womenswear label Khòlò, and she explains ‘I feel like my past is a HUGE part of Khòlò’s inclusivity.’

Karishma also reflected on her own migrant experiencing when thinking about how she could help alleviate some of the stresses experienced by people seeking asylum in Australia. She highlights, ‘truthfully, I feel like migrating with some financial support means I know nothing of what their world looks like.’

With what she describes as a ‘volition to help’ and inspired the by energy of other community minded activities and refugee advocates, Karishma has connected her desire to improve the lives of refugees with her design and business skills. She explains ‘I guess this is my way of saying ‘hey, I wanted to help, I hope this brings some light to your day.’

Karishma sought out Australian artists Laura Blythman; Lily Zielinski and Lucy Hearn (from Peaches + Keen) and Megan Weston to bring her idea to life. The artists designed an artwork inspired by the idea of ‘hope and resilience’ that have been embroidered or printed on a tote bag, to align with Refugee Week 16-22 June. The profits from these very cute carry-alls will go to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, an independent not-for-profit whose programs have supported and empowered people seeking in asylum by providing food, housing, healthcare are legal support since 2001.

Driven by a desire to ‘make something happen’, these totes are as visually beautiful as they are hopeful. The bags are now available to purchase online at Khòlò!

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net