As a foreigner living in Azerbaijan, a small country about the size of Maine in Central Asia, one of the first things you learn is that you can’t wear shoes in the house.
Because most houses don’t have central heating, the floors tend to be cold, which according to most Azeris is the cause of most illnesses. So upon visiting someone’s home, you are presented with options of slippers to wear that may have been worn by the last 50 house guests with various smelly feet…
If that is not something you are keen to do, you can pull your own slipper socks out of your purse and keep your feet toasty in whatever shoe-free place you may find yourself.
Slipper socks have been a rich part of Azerbaijani culture for centuries, and were traditionally made as part of a bride’s dowry. The women would spin and dye their own yarn by hand and knit it into beautiful slippers.
Visit the Azerbaijani Socks Etsy site. Worldwide Free Shipping.
“Azerbaijani Socks” is Born
While teaching English in rural Azerbaijan, a native Minnesotan, Teresa Hamlin, found many tourists who were interested in buying the socks worn by the locals, but they were not easy to find. The women also didn’t have access to good quality yarn, or have the capital to be able to buy the yarn and make the socks to sell. A few socks, given as gifts back home in Minnesota, proved that they were a product that was loved – and “Azerbaijani Socks” was born.
Gifting these native crafts employs women to work from home
The Azerbaijani Socks vision is to provide fairly paid, flexible employment for women in the rural parts of Azerbaijan, through a craft that has continued for generations, and to provide a cozy, handmade, unique, quality product to sell outside of Azerbaijan.
These slipper socks are knit in homes, allowing women to work from home to earn income for their families. Many women in Azerbaijan, especially outside of the capital city, find themselves
unable to work outside of the home, as jobs, salaries and childcare are not suitable. As happens everywhere, many Azeri women find themselves with a husband who is not able to provide for her and her children because of a variety of reasons. Sadly, too often, they also find themselves abandoned and back at their parent’s homes with a failed marriage.
We specifically search for women who live in rural areas, who can knit well, but also have a need for a job, and for someone to love and encourage them.
Give a dual-purpose gift this year – to yourself or someone you love!
I want to ask you, dear reader, to consider how you can give a dual-purpose, meaningful gift this Christmas. (I am in no way an affiliate).
You can bless your recipient (not to mention encourage them to be more outward-looking in gift-giving in the future) and also lend a hand up to these hurting women and families living in difficult situations. These are not entitled women.
Please check out the Azerbaijani Socks Etsy site to support these women in case you find yourself in a shoe-free zone where you need some extra warmth!
If you find that you are too late on a certain style you love, please contact Teresa, the shop owner. And remember birthdays and purchases for yourself in the future.
Almost 2 years ago, the US embassy in Azerbaijan invited Teresa Hamlin, the founder of Azerbaijani Socks, to talk about her business.
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Thanks for reading!