reWoven Update!

Greetings from reWoven! In this newsletter, the first in a long time, we want to update everyone about the current state of the project and our plans for the future.

As many of you know, our founder Ryan Smith, along with his wife Lora and son Caleb were taken from us almost two years ago. In the wake of this incredible tragedy many friends of reWoven were left wondering what would become of this project, which created so many 
beautiful rugs and helped the even more beautiful weavers whose hands had made them. We want to assure you that the amazing work that the Smiths began with reWoven will not only be preserved, but continued.

The summer of 2018 was a time of immense grief for all who knew the Smith family, including their friends in Georgia, and especially the weavers who had become part of the reWoven community. Ryan’s family, as well as his friends in Georgia, began looking for ways to ensure that the work Ryan and Lora had started would continue. Michael Chapman, a friend of the Smith family, and also an American living in Marneuli, Georgia volunteered to become interim director. He began to make regular trips into the villages, meet the weavers and familiarize himself with the working process Ryan had created. Before long each weaver was once again at work crafting beautiful rugs. 
 
In 2019, working in conjunction with Ryan’s family in California and a group of supporters in Georgia, it was decided to formally constitute reWoven as a non-profit, humanitarian organization, and in February 2020 reWoven was officially registered as an NGO, with a board that includes eminent carpet scholars, tourism specialists, journalists and executives (see below).
 
It is our hope that, with the institutional framework of reWoven secure, and our weavers continuing to produce beautiful rugs, the legacy of the Smith family will be preserved. With the help of reWoven’s friends the project will continue to preserve the ancient textile tradition of the region, and directly help the women who weave these extraordinary rugs.

If you still believe in the importance of providing economic options for low-income Azeri communities in Georgia, if you still believe preserving the ancient cultural tradition of hand woven rugs is valuable, if you still believe in enriching the lives of our amazing weavers then you still believe in reWoven. We are still emerging from the tragedy that took our founder from us, and in order to lay a strong and sustainable future for reWoven we need your help and support now more than ever! There are three main ways you can continue supporting reWoven.

1. Sing up for our newsletter!  Many of those reading this newsletter are already on our mailing list, but you can still help expand reWovens reach by forwarding this newsletter to friends and family. For those of you who are not already signed up and you would like to periodically receive reWoven updates please sign up here!

2. Buy a rug or commission a new one!  If you or anyone you know is interested in purchasing one of our amazing rugs please browse the rugs that are currently for sale. Scroll down to see a wide selection of sold rugs. If you don’t see anything that fits what you are looking for, we are able to reproduce and customize any rug we have previously made. Once you have made your selection contact Michael Chapman.  

3. Follow us on facebook and instagram! If you would like up to date stories from our weavers and see their beautiful creations follow us on facebook and Instagram. Like and share our stories with your friends and family. 

4. Donate to our organization! reWoven sets aside a portion of its income to fund special projects aimed at helping its weavers and the communities in which they live. We collaborate with our weavers and local leadership to come up with meaningful and impactful projects. Some of our past endeavors have included purchasing school supplies for local students, providing funds for medical assistance and purchasing a large dish/silverware set for the local community center. If you would like to make a donation to help fund similar projects please contact Michael Chapman.

Over the last two years there have been many developments in the project, some to be celebrated an some to be grieved. It is with great heaviness of heart we report that one of our beloved weavers Shoret Musayeva succumbed to a long battle with cancer on October 18, 2019. She was one of our most famous weavers, and tours located to Kosalar were often hosted at Shoret’s home. She was a trustworthy leader and a blessing to our project for over five years. 
reWoven was able to use the money generated by rug sales to fund Shoret’s cancer treatment, helping her family financially and improving Shoret’s quality of life until the end. We will miss her greatly. 

Looking to the future, it is a huge pleasure to announce that we have been able to add three new weavers to our team over the past two years. We will be introducing these newcomers and sharing their stories with you in the following newsletter. Over the last two years we have been able to host five tours to meet our weavers in 
Kosalar, which generated a good amount of interest as well as some rug commissions! Tours usually range from eight to fifteen people and take about five hours beginning to end. Guests are taken on a tour of Kosalar’s new multi-million dollar mosque and then visit weavers in their homes, where they are all encouraged to try their hands at tying a few knots on one of our rugs. After learning about the Borchalo-Kazak 
carpets indigenous to the area and viewing an exhibition of our rugs, the tours conclude with a delicious feast of Azerbaijani cuisine served in the home of one of our wevers. We hope to also include tours to our other weaving village, Karachop, in due course. If you are in Georgia and would like to experience reWoven for yourself, please contact Michael Chapman.

It is no surprise that the last couple of months have been challenging for reWoven. In mid-April the government, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, closed all roads to our two weaving villages. This has obviously been discouraging to the weavers and business has all but shut down for the time being. Thankfully, none of our weavers have contracted the virus and all are eagerly anticipating the roads being opened up again. 

On behalf of reWoven and the board I (Michael Chapman) would like to thank you for your continued support. We hope that you are encouraged by the developments over the last two years and are excited about the direction that reWoven is headed! We are proud to continue building on the Smiths’ legacy–inspiring the world through the beauty of our rugs and bringing hope to the weavers who create them.