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About Motif


For us to share a world where Fair Trade is the dynamic norm: where everyone part of making and supplying the goods we all eat and use is ethically employed; where we are all inspired and equipped to earn enough for the essential details of life – wherever we live; where together it is known that we and our families can live and work in 'safe places' – without fear or humiliation, with trust and respect, anywhere in our world.


Trusting relationships are our lifeblood at Motif … we are a 'family' business and will always be on hand to support you as part of our family too. Our professionalism is a big part of that so our motto, “ON TIME, IN FULL, WITHOUT ERROR” - is the essential detail for us to ensure a top quality design and delivery service for you. Only then will we have the truly ethical and sustainable company we desire; generating and fulfilling deep hope and decent livelihoods for increasing numbers of women and men.

Click here to view our gallery of artisans and their amazing fair trade, eco friendly handicrafts.


British designer Jackie Corlett, worked with Jharna from 1989 in a local Bangladeshi hand crafts organization. Together over 5 years as designer and pattern cutter, they worked with top European Alternative Trade Organizations designing and delivering new ranges of hand woven table linens, embroidered bags, tailored bath robes, slippers and many other accessories.

After returning to Bangladesh, in February 1998 Jackie, Jharna and 2 other local investors were excited to set up Motif Ltd. as a Joint Venture Private Limited Company.

"We know that a company must self-sustain on Fair Trade principles for it to be 'truly successful' on all levels."
Nurul Islam, late Director.

We started very small! Jharna kept her other job for a year or so and Jackie developed design curriculum for some of the first design universities in Bangladesh to supplement her income. Mukul and later Nayan joined us to keep everything in order with logistics and legalities. SH Shamim shared great support with his team of wonderful weavers and became another Director in 2001.

Since then we now have 2 Directors, 6 full time staff and work directly with at least 20 – 100 artisans at any given time and touching the lives of many more family and community members. We are growing steadily under our own steam with no loans … that feels good and makes us stronger!


Jackie – is a designer by profession and loves working with the amazingly skilled artisans of Bangladesh, developing new products and collections that export markets value. She jointly set-up Motif Ltd. in 1998 to channel her passion for ethical trading issues. The hand skills of Motif's Fair Trade certified team have diverse uses under Jackie's design direction: building trend focused ranges; custom design from museum archives for their shops; educational kits; packaging; and much more.

Shamim – has worked with the weavers and craft makers of Bangladesh since the '70s and is passionate on all issues relating to their support. His family are equally motivated and together they run UBINIG – a Bangladeshi research and lobbying organization determined to keep issues of Woman and Child Trafficking and Food Security in the headlines. Shamim runs Prabatana, the hand crafts arm of their work, and is currently President of the National Crafts Council, Bangladesh.

Jharna – is a wonderful woman, her blend of humor, dignity and discipline is the heartbeat of our workshop and enables us to consistently meet our targets. Jharna is our Motif Coordinator & Production Supervisor … and everyone's mother! In our weekly Executive Team Meetings she ensures that what needs to be done will be done and throughout the week is diligently making sure we reduce wastage and work efficiently at all times.

Mukul – is our right-hand man, his tenacious qualities ensure we get the best deals on our raw materials and when it's time to export, those same qualities ensure everything goes out on time with all the paperwork intact. As our Executive – Export & Administration, Mukul also regularly checks up on the status of our orders from suppliers. He ensures that production problems are addressed as soon as they arise and that our Fair Trade standards are being kept by all.

Nayan – is our 'go-to' guy! As Executive – Production & Commercial, his ability to organize information and keep multiple deadlines in mind at the same time is a real asset. You will hear from Nayan as he manages all the logistics of processing your order from its confirmation, production and QC, through to dispatch from Dhaka. He will be the one to send our new sample info and 'remind' you of us! Nayan has a great sense of fun too and is often found teasing the kids of our production team mums … they love him for it!

Salma – keeps all our resources in order – very important! Salma has her professional qualifications in order too and has worked against some challenging odds to achieve them. As our Executive – Finance & Personnel she oversees all our customer accounts and manages all our resources with attention and care, both finances and people. Salma ensures that all related with Motif are aware of our ethical trading ethos; she delivers training and seeks feedback regularly on our performance, discussing the results in our meetings.

Limon – has such an attention to detail that he is ideal as our Quality Control Assistant. Limon ensures that all Motif goods are quality made and quality packed so you receive them, after long shipments, as good as when they left us. He keeps our store rooms in order, which saves us all a lot of time! Limon is shy young but has a cheeky sense of humor – he'll always make you smile and is ready to help with any extra work as it's needed. Limon is a good tailor too and in a pinch can be found helping us out with production!

Ajay – is the helping hand that everyone needs! As our Production Assistant he is learning much in supporting Jharna yet he is also vital to our QC and store room work ensuring that Limon has the resource he needs too. The many short trips to get supplies of all kinds are done with a willing smile and Ajay makes the best 'lemon chai' anywhere! He is irreplaceable in making our numerous visitors feel at home and demonstrates to many the family ethos we hold so dear.

Joba – is that very gentle, quiet behind the scenes person who ensures that we daily walk into an office that is clean and fresh. She comes at the end of the day, scolds us in English (!) and yet the next day the fabric scraps have disappeared, files and papers are straightened, desks are not dusty and the bathrooms are nice to use!

Mahmudullah – is our very 'in your face' export logistics support! Before we get an order underway it is critical that we confirm all shipping details well in advance. Mahmudullah returns our calls promptly and ensures we get the best prices for you our buyers and also for us. He rises to any challenge – even to the packing and shipping of cycle rickshaws! We also enjoy having his son with us for our annual celebrations!

Shireen, Nasma, Ansura, Shipra – are the strong core of our own Motif Production Team. They have many years experience and create pieces you cannot believe come from old-fashioned foot treadle sewing machines! Their comments during sample development are extremely valuable as we work out together the most cost-effective use of materials and time when in full production mode. The camaraderie is strong as each woman has her own story of struggle and thankfulness for being at Motif. Depending on our orders we have as many as 10 women sewing in our workshop – all from similar backgrounds, all very glad to have an opportunity with Motif!

When necessary we do outsource our sewing orders, however our suppliers are all carefully checked so that our Fair Trade standards continue to be met.

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Skills and Resources

There are many skilled people involved with every unique motif product. Let us introduce you to some of them.

Hand Weaving

The diaphanous Dhaka muslin was famous in its day and even now the stunningly detailed saris and other intricate weave techniques are a delight to behold. These traditions and others have been creatively sustained for generations and the understanding of natural fibers silk, cotton and jute is born of many years experience. Working alongside such skilled weavers, is a real inspiration. Motif combines an awareness of wider market tastes with new design ideas enabling weaving communities to continue from strength to strength; ensuring that the discerning customer is able to appreciate and enjoy traditional skills whilst being involved with their preservation.

Hand Embroidery

Needlework skills are vital for good embellishment and our embroiderers use a wide array of techniques with amazing dexterity to produce superb results. The naive spontaneity of Nakshi Kantha, a precious use of old fabrics with simple running stitch, belies the skill involved in creating a good piece whilst the lustrous metallic thread, bead and mirror work known as aari is always eye catching.


Considerable skills are required to turn the beautiful hand woven natural fibers and unique pieces of embroidery into useable and useful products. Many of the items produced at Motif are quite complex in construction and require much concentration to pass our high quality standards. From scrutinizing the raw materials through to skilled cutting, careful production and scrupulous checking, our team is trained to produce work of the highest standards.


Recycling is at the core of this time-honoured skill. Waste natural fibers such as jute, cotton, rayon, silk and plant fibers such as water hyacinth, pineapple and banana leaves, wheat straw, mulberry fibers and others create an exciting collection of handmade papers for use in decorating interior accessories such as photo frames, boxes, special journals and writing sets along with greeting cards and the more traditional gift wraps, bags and tags.

Wire & Bead Work

Small colored beads, seemingly suspended in thin air, are woven into interesting structures, creating whimsical and charming gift items. The makers of these non-traditional items are deftly using the hand skills learnt in other crafts to ensure a livelihood. The apparent simplicity of construction disguises the ingenuity required to complete detailed pieces.

Rickshaw Decoration

This dynamic art form, so unique to Bangladesh, with its wild color combinations, bright recycled plastics and metallic trims of rickshaws careering though Dhaka traffic, is the inspiration for one of Motif's most popular collections, Bolly Bits & Bobs.

The Rickshaw artists, who include a handful of women, are renowned in their field and each has their own style within this genre. Their expression is found on the seats and bodywork of rickshaws while hoods display bright creative appliqu– and cut work in re-cycled plastics of bold primaries and glitzy metallic fabrics. Applied to a wide range of trays, photo frames, bags and tableware, the traffic art of Bangladesh brings color and a smile to your life.

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