The idea for Carcel
was sparked back in 2014 when Veronica
D’Souza sat foot in a women’s prison outside Nairobi. Living in Kenya, she was curious to know more about why women got incarcerated and what they were doing while inside.
After leaving her possessions at the metal gate, she was met by ordinary women from the village incarcerated due to desperate decisions often as a result of poverty and poor opportunities. Every day, they sat working in workshop called ‘the factory’, sewing small things and crafting items they hoped to be able to sell. But without any proper access to a market, designs or good materials, they made no income. This is not a unique situation for women in prison in Kenya, but charismatic for many developing countries.
After chewing on the idea for two years, Veronica decided to start a fashion label, that would give women in prison new skills and fair wages through textile production, combing the luxury materials available in each country, with fantastic Danish design aesthetics. She teamed up with designer Louise van Hauen who used her experience from Louis Vuitton and Dirk Bikkenberg to do exactly that.
The unique intersect of high female incarceration along one of the best materials in the world defined Peru as a good place to start.
With a collection in 100% baby alpaca wool, they have set up production in Cusco’s women’s prison. The first collection is made with a fully-fashioned technique that minimizes the waste, all handmade on knitting machines.
In 9 month, Carcel has established itself as a label with international PR and hundreds of people from all over the world signing up for waitlist for new products. This could not have been possible without the financial support from the crowdfunding campaign in fall 2016. People’s interest and willingness to support meant an overwhelming start to our Kickstarter campaign where the goal was reached within the first 10 hours after going live. Steadily rising since then, the campaign reached a little over 200% in funding. A responsibility towards the women in prison alongside the people who backed our project, the entire team also feels a great motivation to move forward and work hard in order to make Carcel flourish and extend the work to other parts of the world.
Currently, the team is investigating opportunities for setting up a silk production in Thai prisons and looking forward to launch the official online shop in spring 2017.