July saw the launch of a new contemporary souvenir range for Birmingham from Shelanu: Women’s Craft Collective, supported by Craftspace. Shelanu are a developing craft social enterprise supporting migrant and refugee women. The development of this range of locally produced textile products celebrates the diversity of their city and is inspired by Birmingham’s industrial heritage and reputation as the ‘city of 1000 trades’.

The collection consists of a tote bag, wash bag, make up bag, tablet case and a coin purse, priced at under £30 and are available to buy from the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery shop.

Shelanu members have based their design on the city’s iconic buildings, both old and new, including the new Library of Birmingham, Rotunda and Selfridges. Birmingham’s architecture had been a large part of their experience of familiarising themselves with their new city as part of the Collective. Market research with Birmingham residents and visitors from all over the world also showed that the buildings were clearly how people identify our city.

Shelanu, who are based at the Custard Factory in Digbeth, Birmingham, are really excited to be working with Birmingham Museums Trust as a partner and also with textile artist Ekta Kaul to develop the range. The fabric has been printed in Worcester with other materials sourced as locally as possible. The pieces are produced by Textiles by St Anne’s, a social enterprise also based in Digbeth.

It is hoped that this product range will provide a regular income for the Collective as they aim to become a sustainable craft social enterprise which can assist more migrant and refugee women to gain well-being and aspiration through their creative development.

The project has been funded by a ‘Small Change’ grant from the Barrow Cadbury Trust and donations made through the online fundraising site Just Giving.