Story of dotta
Based on a true story
Everything started with meeting Tatiana and Lora.
I came from New York to visit family in the South Urals region of Russia. My intention was to research textile practices of Eurasia, centering on Central Asia, Russia and the Caucasus. I’ve been fascinated with the textile medium since art school and wanted to see how traditional crafts are evolving in the region.
Soon Tatiana and I agreed to meet at her place to discuss the first knitting project. Her address lead to the outskirts of the city. The area had nothing poetic or inspiring about it: worn out buildings and worried eyes. Tatiana was living in a block of social housing. She didn’t greet me by the door but yelled to walk into the kitchen. There she was, waiting calmly by the table, sitting in her wheelchair with unwrapped yarns and swatches.
Later I learned that for decades Tatiana and her friend Lora had worked for a local store, basically creating all inventory by hand. When the business slowed down, they formed a knitting enterprise.
Tatiana finished my initial order in 3 days - a fully handcrafted vest of multiple patterns and yarn combinations. We started meeting on a regular basis. Despite their disabilities and seemingly dismal surroundings, both women lead energetic lives. Creativity filled their days with color - they were able to connect with a knitting community, to participate in fairs, to share and teach. Lora even attended special dance classes. In short, they have become inspiring figures to me.
Ultimately, what the collective was missing was exposure and access to a broader marketplace. Many tasks like logistics, shipping, marketing, proper visual presentation, etc. were too much to handle for the artisans. Their own pictures often did very poor justice to the skillful pieces. At the same time, working with such in-home producers was rather fitting for the new type of sharing global economy, based on a more flexible system of decentralized networks and human relationships. All these ideas set up the foundation for the Dotta Project.
Things snowballed from there: I was fortunate to meet more artisans in Russia, to travel to Kyrgyzstan and see local workshops in Bishkek, to spend time with weavers in Fergana Valley, to learn from silk and cotton makers in Uzbekistan...
All this got shaped into a platform to share and foster the cottage industry of the region. I've witnessed how traditional skills can carry the cultural heritage, symbols, and practices of many under-represented ethnic communities. Dotta was born as a growing and flexible project, like an unplanned journey, one that I trust will open many doors and take you places you might have never considered. Welcome in!
- Sasha Bromberg,
founder of dotta project