Ciudad Juarez, a city of 1.5 million inhabitants, is located in the north of México and south of El Paso, Texas. It is a city riddled with low wage factories and the reputation of being a city of crime, violence and female homicides.
But Juarez has not always been like that. There was a time when women could go out at night without the fear of being raped or murdered and when mothers didn't have to spend their lives searching for the bodies of their lost daughters. That time, however, is gone. Today gender violence is very much a part of everyday life in Juarez.
Fortunately, there are those who refuse to accept this.
Seeking opportunity for change, Norwegian artist Lise Linnert, together with Juarez native activists and artist Janette Terrazas and Veronica Corchado, founded NI EN MORE, a social innovation project with aim to empower women in Juarez.
It all started with a shared belief in the transformative impact of economically empowered women; the potential in collaboration across borders; the contribution of different skills, and a willingness to work hard. With one sewing machine, a small borrowed room, the support of the non-profit organization Colectiva Arte Comunidad y Equidad, and a name, they started. NI EN MORE is a mix of the Spanish, Norwegian and English words meaning “Not one more”. Now, 2 years later, NI EN MORE is an act of resistance, solidarity and a small non-profit sewing studio for women in Juárez, making unique garments. The purpose is to provide a safe environment, fair wages, education and a warm place to be for women in need.
Their enthusiasm and vision have drawn more women into the project with a wide range of skills. Like Tine Mollatt, a Norwegian designer who designed the initial four styles and donated the first 400 meters of fabrics, to illustrators, writers, photographers, artists who are conscious of the importance of women supporting each other.
But NI EN MORE not only creates one-of-a-kind flower dyed garments, all handmade and with materials sourced in Mexico, NI EN MORE aims to nurture self-confidence and build skills that can contribute to long term financial independence. Hopefully, this confidence and experience can spread like seeds, helping to change other women’s reality in Juarez.
The creation of the garments is aligned to the NI EN MORE’s philosophy: They are dyed one by one using plants and flowers from the area, trying to minimize to the maximum, the waste and pollution in the production. This process is slow, taking up to 60 hours to dye one dress. The attention to details and craftsmanship are also symbols of resistance to the exploitation happening every day in the low wage factories settled in Juarez.
NI EN MORE is not about fashion, it is about art and solidarity. A piece of the soul and the hopes of the makers are in each garment. When you see and wear one of the NI EN MORE´s pieces, you are part of the change and the hope of providing a safe, full and happy life to women, for a long time.
The dreams are vibrant, but the project is still small. Even though they have stopped dyeing the dresses in a tiny backyard, as they now have a small studio, NI EN MORE is still looking for founding and all help they can get, so they can reach their goal for 2020, which is, to be fully sustainable.