Jane Chandler: Joyfully Supporting Aruna Designs

Interview by Marian McClelland for the Aruna Designs team

Jane Chandler first opened the doors of The Beach House 40 years ago. Located in the heart of Martha’s Vineyard, her vibrant boutique entices locals and visitors from all over the world with colorful products and its warm, welcoming atmosphere.

Committed to Aruna Designs, Jane helps create jobs with her large orders of our Fair Trade handcrafts, providing formerly destitute women and their families with a living wage in a supportive community.

Aruna Designs is run entirely by volunteers. Profits are reinvested in the handcraft project and donated to Aruna Partnership’s charitable programs for women and children in need. Close relationships with our Indian artisan friends and with the store owners/managers who carry their products here in the States sustain us all.

Among the carefully curated offerings at The Beach House are whimsical stuffed animals, beautifully tailored block print cotton robes, hairbands, toiletry bags, cosmetic bags, keychain purses, unique angel ornaments, and handmade cards.

Marian recently spoke with Jane about her committment to Aruna Designs:

Jane: I imagine the plight of these beautiful women, and I imagine them creating and getting income from the wonderful things they’ve made, and it just makes me incredibly happy to be part of this! It’s not a one-way street. We benefit, the women in India benefit, and the customers benefit. Our customers are so excited about being part of this wonderful project, too! We always make sure to put the story about the women into each gift box or bag when we sell Aruna Designs products. Just the other day, a customer came back to say, “You forgot to put the story in my bag!”

“Our customers are so excited about being part of this wonderful project.”

Marian: We enjoy collaborating with you from time to time on product development. A few years ago, you suggested creating accessory clothing for the Bunny families – nightgowns, pjs, shirts, overalls, and fancy dresses. Then you found tiny hangers for displaying the popular accessories. Can you tell us a little about this?

“One mother comes in regularly with her daughter. Sometimes the daughter picks out an outfit or two. Sometimes she has to wait.
It’s become a little destination event.”

Jane: Aruna Designs has a real following here now. People often call us to order additional outfits for the Bunnies, and some customers have whole collections of the cotton print Scrappies! We’ve put baskets of Scrappies and Bunnies on the floor so kids can play with them, change their clothes, whatever they want. I always tell children who come into the store, “Your Bunny is whoever you want it to be! You can make families with whatever combinations you want.”

Marian: You also carry our full line of Leaf Painting Cards, which feature miniature paintings on dried leaves from the peepal (or Bodhi) tree. Why are they appealing?

Jane: The cards are incredible works of art. Each one is so exquisite! We chose several to frame for display in the store.

Marian: Last year you asked the widows to create a “Peace Dove” card. You gave the women free reign to come up with something of their own. The women in the Leaf Painting section eagerly drafted possibilities. Three of the designs were so good, we asked them to develop them further. Were you happy with the results?

Jane’s response was enthusiastic:

“I absolutely love, love, love these cards! We can never get enough of the message of peace. I especially love the ‘Multi Dove’. If we didn’t already have a logo, I’d make this our logo!”

Jane: The women are so creative. Asking them to design new products is another way to empower them, to encourage them to come up with ideas of their own. Their Scrappies and Angels have such incredible color combinations. Often their choices are more beautiful than anything we could come up with!


Jane’s daughter models a robe from Aruna Designs. 
Another order is ready to ship to The Beach House.

Marian: You’ve mentioned that you and your team at The Beach House are planning a holiday fundraiser for the women in India?

Jane: Yes! It’s really a group effort. Jen Scanell, my co-worker, is an incredible knitter. She and others in our Beach House family will help design a little Bunny House for our holiday window display. It’s so much fun! We’ll create a winter scene featuring the Bunnies in a dollhouse that will look like a cozy home in the woods. Then we’ll raffle it off! The proceeds will go to the beautiful ladies in India, to help feed their families. Grandparents, parents, and kids will all buy tickets. Some people don’t even want to win the house, they just welcome the opportunity to support this incredible project.

I want the women to see the other end of what they’re doing and give them a chance to feel pride in what they’re creating and who they are. Our relationship with Aruna Designs and these beautiful women in India is an intimate one. We display photos in the store of some of the artisans who create Aruna Designs products, and I love sending photos and even videos back to India! 

Their products are so high-end they stand by themselves, but that’s not even half of what makes Aruna Designs products so special. 

“The story of these remarkable women brings out the best in humanity, of people wanting to help other people.”

Donate Today

Your gifts help provide training and jobs for young widows and safe, loving refuge for elderly widows and other destitute women.

Emergency News Title Can Go Here