I’m Wendy Michell, 65 from South Australia, and founder of this charity shopping company.
I heard about the devastating complications a woman suffers from obstetric fistula and the resulting bodily trauma from birthing a baby, and how their communities shun the hundreds of thousands of afflicted. The visions of the very appalling way to exist that it must be for these beautiful women haunted me and I was drawn to contemplate how I could help more.
It is estimated that one million women worldwide live with untreated fistula, a devastating injury primarily caused by prolonged obstructed labor when women do not have access to timely emergency obstetric care. Obstetric fistula mostly affects economically vulnerable women and garners little attention on the global health stage. Exact figures on fistula incidence and prevalence are not known.
I was inspired by people like Australian surgeon Dr Catherine Hamlin who was dedicated to healing with their fine technical work in the field, surgically curing with huge success, allowing the women to reclaim their lives.
I researched about the good work of the Fistula Foundation in USA, a four star charity organisation (https://www.charitynavigator.org). The Fistula Foundation builds and supports hospitals, trains doctors and their staff, and educates women in over 30 countries.
Bali Team, making a dream come true
I have been most fortunate to have travelled to Bali many times, making a connection almost 40 years ago with a wonderful boy who is now a family man. I talked with him about my silk pillowcase vision eleven years ago and he introduced me to his Aunt Desak and her friend Komang, who are a highly skilled tailors. This led me to wonder how amazing it would be to engage the services of a small family workshop to create the silk pillowcases for Silky Kisses, and in turn provide work and an opportunity for them.
We talked about the charity mission of this company, and we eventually had conversations about how they would like to give back to the less fortunate in their own communities by making something very culturally unique for their communities.
When I first met these beautiful people who would become the team who enabled my vision to be a reality they were making their dainty kebayas, a lace blouse worn traditionally by the Agama Hindu Dharma Balinese women of the island, for themselves and those in their family. Their National Dress regulations requires all to observe their cultural nationalism. Not unlike the women suffering fistula they are not able to attend to their customs and be part of their cultural ceremonies without a kebaya, therefore this garment seemed a perfect way to enable the Bali team to have stable work and to enable the giving back to the beautiful women in the outer communities who do not benefit from tourism but do uphold and continue the island traditions.
The idea of making a kebaya for those on their island who were unable to afford these lovely pieces inspired us to begin the project when they are between silk work. They are very keen to deliver these lacy parcels to the women in remote villages who rarely receive anything new. To date the small Team in Bali have made and given away 1,810 Silky Kisses kebaya.
Happy woman healed
I felt that if I'm lying on silk I could give a bit of my own good fortune to those who have less and contributing to making a difference.
I became a donor to this cause myself but wondered what else could I do? How could I make a real difference to these thousands of suffering women? How could I inspire others to make it a bigger gift of life?
Could an online shop create a movement towards positive giving - a win/win approach?
My concern for the suffering of other women is in direct contrast to wanting to feel silk under my head. The hypocrisy here is evident and intended.
How can this hypocrisy become a conversation about a subject that is
largely taboo, but which could create a positive movement towards
compassion, and a contribution toward this good cause which actually does
make a difference? A pillowcase is a simple product - often it is the simple things in life that can make the most impact.
I felt I had found the dream mission for inspiring others with this company. Not only because of the many enticing health benefits of sleeping on silk, but because we can more easily sleep at night knowing we are helping to support a woman in need to be cured of her affliction.
The challenges the business/market is facing
A silk pillowcase is not new, women have been sleeping on silk for hundreds of years, but it was traditionally a very expensive luxury product in a fragile fabric. Satin, silk’s plastic cousin, was the inexpensive and hard wearing alternative... but this fabric does nothing for the skin and actually creates static, no one likes that. Most of us love the shiny slinkiness, and charmeuse silk has all that.
After eleven years experience in this business there are now many opportunities to purchase a silk pillowcase online. We have explored eye masks and hair scrunchies but after much research I decided to be excellent at one product, one which can be repeated and one which allows the business to stay true to helping the Fistula Foundation with every single sale.
Silky Kisses silk pillowcases’ point of difference is that we are not just an online shop selling beautiful pillowcases. It is a shop selling a specific item that attempts to improve the wellbeing of individuals.
Our customers choose from the rainbow of colours of our exquisite silk pillowcases, assisted by the colour therapy suggestions that our website provides which helps to make these choices easier.
SK Rainbow of choices
Silky Kisses point of difference
Silky Kisses pillowcases are made with double sided 22 momme, that’s the measurement of the weight and density of silk fabric. It is the ideal weight for a pillowcase because any less and the material will wear faster, and any heavier it will be stiff and uncomfortable to sleep on.
There are many benefits sleeping on silk. Being a natural breathable fabric which is hypo- allergenic it is suitable for all age groups, all skin types, and all hair types, including bald men. The fabric can endure the punishment of heavy breathing and being washed many times.
I still sleep on some of the original prototypes and like me they get better with age.
The challenge for our product is that our pillowcases are made so well that they do not wear out. Thankfully our loyal customers come back to buy for family and friends as well as a change of decor colours for their bedrooms.
A silk pillowcase is gender neutral. One of my earliest customers was a 80 year old gentleman who loved the coral colour of SK’s Summer Sorbet the best, it brought him joy and I believe it lasted the remainder of his very long life.
The power of colour is the essence of life
What does your colour choice say about you?
Combining the understanding of what colour can do for you with the glorious silk that enhances your skin and hair beauty every night, and the good feeling that giving gives to the giver, a Silky Kisses silk pillowcase is a product that’s a total happiness maker XX
Not everyone loves colour like me - it enhances my decor and improves my energy.
White is the most purchased choice of bedding colour, and although I think it’s not my first choice I do understand why most feel like a stunningly crisp and serene white bed to rest their weariness.
Colour choices are so personal that those customers looking to find a SK gift discover it can be difficult to make that choice for others. Silky Kisses website provides a voucher for their recipients to make their own decisions.
Silk is soft and sleeping on it restores our souls. Colour is a resonance and restores us also, or invigorates, or calms depending on the colour.
The study of colour for beneficial medicinal healing for us all has been in existence as a science since ancient times. The power of colour is the essence of life. Colour is refracted light, it’s all around us and influences our lives all the time. Chromotherapy is the study of the effects of colour to more easily understand the legitimate benefits of colour for ourselves and others, and with the addition of this science on the Silky Kisses website we have created another level of consideration to help our customers make more informed colour choices.
The benefits of silk
The truth is that once you’ve slept on a charmeuse silk pillowcase it is impossible to go back to sleeping on anything else. That’s because it’s great for our skin; miraculous for managing hair; those who are sensitive and allergic are relieved; and everyone loves them. I discovered these aspects, and a whole lot more, when creating Silky Kisses eleven years ago this month. I had bad hair mornings, and my old cotton pillowcases dried out my ageing skin. What we choose to snuggle into for a good rest and happy dreams is an essential consideration as we lay our heads and faces into our pillows for many hours every night.
Sleeping on silk
We know that sleeping on a silk pillowcase would be seen as an indulgence, particularly when there are millions of people struggling to just survive. The incongruous nature of the difference between the materially orientated and the desperately poor is at odds. If we really open our hearts we are appalled by what we hear and see in the visuals on media photographs, but we try to forget so we can live in our daily reality without the guilt. This is true for most of us who are reading this magazine.
Knowing that there are Angels in the field really doing fine dedicated work to change lives helps us sleep at night.
My hope is to inspire others
I made a pledge to try to help women who may never have slept on a pillow by ironically offering a silk pillowcase experience to those who do.
I wanted to inspire others to enjoy their sleeping time more with this beautiful but straightforward idea to solve their own personal issues, whilst at the same time increase awareness of the plight of those women who are only just surviving, with a view to making a difference to their suffering collectively.
This company is my investment into this Mission. My pledge was to start a difficult conversation about the women who endure a ‘fistula’, and it’s not only a third world country occurrence. It’s a hidden problem of the World bringing misery and isolation and it’s now curable in the 30 countries where the Fistula Foundation does their good work.
Since the beginning of this company all the profits from the sales of SK’s silk pillowcases have been given to the Fistula Foundation, 4/4 Star charity, to support their healing work. It is really the main purpose of the existence of the Silky Kisses silk pillowcase company.
Together we really can all take small steps for big change
SK is a charity ‘giving’ platform, the giving of pleasure to our customers, for the giving to heal the suffering of women with fistula, and the company also responds to the local making and giving of the kebaya to women of the country where the pillowcases are made, making a difference for thousands of women. Silky Kisses are slowly and steadily making that difference - ‘one silk pillowcase at a time, one woman at a time’.
Wendy Michell XX
In a personal video on social media, Charmaine Dickson discussed her journey with weight gain starting when her rectovaginal fistula was discovered in her early 30’s. This was a pivotal moment in her life. In naturopathy, we say “never been well since”. This was the case for Charmaine. A discovery which altered her life, health and mental wellbeing.
An injury not openly discussed, rectovaginal fistulas can cause deep physiological and psychological trauma misunderstood by most.
Although it’s been a long journey, Charmaine has now accepted and adjusted her life to the long-term challenges this injury has brought forth. Able to live contently now with the physiological effects, the psychological effects proved harder to overcome, with no support from professionals or friends due to the overwhelming stigma and misunderstanding surrounding the injury. Today, acceptance of herself and her faith in God, has had many healing properties, and now Charmaine wants to assist others with this emotionally traumatic ordeal. She wants others to know she is here, and she understands them.
What is a rectovaginal fistula? A rectovaginal fistula is when there is an abnormal connection between the rectum and the vagina, caused by damage of the thin septum separating the rectal and vaginal wall. It results in gas or stool to pass through the vagina. This may be caused by a difficult, prolonged childbirth without prompt intervention. Or potentially, in Charmaine’s case, a pap smear gone wrong.
Three years after Charmaine’s third child was born, she had a pap smear that was unusually painful both during and after the procedure. It is hypothesised that she was nicked during the procedure, causing an ulcer to form, resulting in a fistula. Unable to sit due to the pain, Charmaine returned to her Doctor out of concern that the pain wasn’t subsiding and she was experiencing flatulence in the vaginal cavity. She was turned away, being told this flatulence was normal. Due to it being ignored, the fistulae became infected and the opening became wider. Aware this was anything but normal, she returned to the Doctor with a tampon containing faecal matter as evidence and was finally heard. Within three hours, Charmaine was in a specialist room and the long triage began. The six month journey from pain and embarrassment to a diagnosis felt like forever. With the Adelaide surgeons unsure how to fix it, Charmaine underwent many painful procedures. After the sixth operation it was decided she needed an ileoscopy bag to give the bowel time to recover. Two more operations followed, now a total of eight, in the hope the bag could be removed. However, these operations too did not work. The bag was attached once more. After the ninth operation, there was finally success, but the bag remained on for another twelve months.
Charmaine’s body was tired and distressed. During one of the many operations, Charmaine’s body became an experiment with the surgeons trying to open up the fistulae more, attaching a rubber band onto the fistulae wall, down the vaginal wall and tying a knot on the outside of the two walls. Expected to then go back to living life as normal, Charmaine experienced immense pain and after ten days of crying in agony, she begged the Doctors to remove it. Although she felt like a guinea pig, Charmaine doesn’t begrudge the doctors. They were trying their best to help a situation of which they had extremely limited knowledge on.
The self-esteem decline was well and truly on its way for Charmaine. The long-term consequences of the sphincter muscle being affected causes distress and embarrassment for the body and the mind, something that was never discussed or understood. One of the most severe outcomes of this was the decline in femininity felt by Charmaine. Intimacy with her husband was non-existent which further exacerbated her embarrassment and self esteem issues. The stigma from a condition like this stays with you, even when repaired.
The emotional, social and physical suffering caused by rectovaginal fistulas is severe and often overlooked. In many parts of the world, women dealing with such a condition are ostracised, rejected by their community and partners. Consequently, their psychological health declines. Eventually, women may heal physically, however, the psychological damage remains. In addition to the discomfort and emotional toll this condition presents, the urine and faecal incontinence creates an environment not conducive to that of nutrition retention, making it near impossible for patients to maintain proper health and continue with social and occupational activities.
In some parts of the world, the stigma about this condition is so extreme that patients are the victims of religious harassment, causing further despair and hopelessness. Moreover, the effort to maintain marital and familial relations is often beyond one’s own capacity.
The overall sense of loss; loss of self-esteem, loss of intimacy, loss of autonomy, loss of health and nutrition can all lead to an overwhelming sense of worthlessness and stress. These consequences manifest themselves into many troubling guises. Some of the most prolific being, social isolation, mental crisis and sleep disturbances.
So where do silk pillowcases fit into all of this?
Silky Kisses Pillowcases, a small business located in Adelaide, South Australia, are a community and compassion driven group of people, focused solely on the betterment of the lives of those in need. Through ethically produced, handmade silk pillowcases in Bali, this team of warriors are aiding the pockets of communities in order to help them heal, grow and educate. Their current charity support is The Fistula Foundation.
The Fistula Foundation believes no woman should endure a life of misery and isolation simply for trying to bring a child into this world. Dedicated to ending the suffering of rectovaginal fistulas, The Fistula Foundation supports fistula treatments in 57 countries across 427 facilities. It funds more fistula repairs than any other organisation in the world, without the assistance of government funding. Since 2009, The Fistula Foundation has funded more than 31,500 surgeries. With a focus on patients, doctors and facilities, the foundation aims to ensure the best care, service and training, in order to further the understanding and knowledge of rectovaginal fistulas.
For every woman who receives treatment, fifty go without. An estimated one million women are suffering with rectovagianl fistula worldwide and The Fistula Foundation needs your help to expand surgical capacity and provide free fistula repair services around the world.
By purchasing a Silky Kisses silk pillowcase, you can help these women in need. All proceeds from the purchase are directed to The Fistula Foundation. You also have the option to make an additional donation to The Fistula Foundation through the Silky Kisses website wherein 100% of your donation will go to the cause, as the Silky Kisses team is run by a group of volunteers, ensuring no administration fees or charges.
Beyond that of charitable work, purchasing silk pillowcases have a range of additional benefits.
Let’s see why.
Silk, a natural protein fibre, works with our bodies and is sympathetic to our body’s needs - in this case, a good night's sleep!
Silk regulates temperature, doesn’t absorb much moisture, contains antimicrobials (the agent that kills bacteria and heals skin), is hypoallergenic and allows hair to move more freely.
Because silk is relatively non absorbent, the natural oils of your hair, as well as the products used on both your hair and skin, are not absorbed or stripped by the pillowcase, instead allowing it to be absorbed fully into where it was intended. Additionally, with the antimicrobials killing bacteria, it creates a more conducive environment to clear, acne-free skin. As most acne is bacterial based, the reduction of bacteria can prove helpful in the removal of acne. Eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis sufferers have also found the smooth, friction-free, bacteria-free fabric has improved their symptoms and calmed the red and itchy rashes, as rough surfaces tend to aggravate the conditions.
This smooth, friction-free effect also benefits hair - a reason many people turn to sleeping on silk. Many women use silk head scarves to protect their hair from damage, frizziness, knots, bunching and to help maintain their styling or product use.
Silk pillowcases have been shown to prevent breakage, split-ends and dryness.
All-in-all, the benefits of sleeping on silk are extensive. Not to mention luxurious and oh so comfortable!
Silky Kisses Pillowcases have over twenty beautiful colours to choose from, handmade ethically, from the highest-quality silk. By purchasing one, you are not only guaranteeing yourself smooth hair and a restful sleep, but you will also be helping a woman who desperately needs access to a medical procedure.
One that Charmaine Dickson knows first hand, will change their life.
One of the enquires we often receive from our customers is "Can your silk pillowcases be washed normally or can we put them in the washing machine?"... Here is our answer;
Generally we recommend treating your Silky Kisses silk pillowcase with the care you’d treat your hair,
I used to wash my cases with my shampoo and hang it in the bathroom to dry to put back on that night.
Any minor creases of the fabric will drop out with the warmth of your head, or even smoothing it with warm hands, or rolling it up for a while before shoving your favourite pillow into place.
But ...truly ... as main Tester since day one I’ve experimented for years now.
Lately I admit I’ve become become less pedantic, and I tend to throw my silk cases into a delicate wash with like colours in cool or just warm water in my machine with gentle washing liquid and then hanging to dry - I’m happy with their feel and dies the job with my hair.
The life of a natural product’s colours will always be slowly diminished by a machine, over washing, and by heat and sunshine on high coloured silk, but the actual fabric will keep getting softer while having strength.
I personally like the pillowcases’ texture as they age.
Silk in this thickness is surprisingly durable, if treated gently (without heat and chemicals) it can take a lot of face planting to get old and shabby.
As you can imagine I’ve got quite a few different coloured pillows in my life, but my favourite has been Wild Ruby.
So for 8 years I’ve been treating my cases with the severity I give my t-shirts and big towels !
Someone has to do it!
The outcome is varied depending on the strength of the colour and it’s age. And the abuse it gets in life.
My oldest Wild Ruby, a strong deep pink colour, has been washed and dried in a tumble drier with my same coloured towels several times ..full on abuse..a mistake at first but in hindsight a good discovery.
So the result is lighter, old rose coloured, no bright sheen but it looks and feels as soft as polished skin.
I find that cool water keeps the sheen longer, but with a warm or cold wash by hand with soft gentle cleaning emulsion to release makeup and dribble, and then hang in shade to dry.....is the best practice for silk (and most fabrics really).
My skin loves the old rose case, and my hair particularly loves the first two years of rotating a couple of new colours when they’re changed, and washing them in my shower with my hair...or basin ...till I forget one day and it ends up in the big wash...
I’m the best person to ask this question, your message caught me in a ‘passionate about Silky Kisses’ moment :D
I’m sure you were looking for a short answer - I trust this story will help you enjoy and relax with your new pillowcase.
Washing tips can be found on the website in our Guarantee area.
As you can see ..I’m a bit interested in this 8 year (so far) experiment with Silky Kisses ..so I love this question ....Thank you.
I hope that helps - I know you’ll have sweet dreams on your Silky Kisses silk pillowcase XX
Kind regards from the Silky Kisses team
CEO of Silky Kisses - Charity silk pillowcases for women and children at risk
Thank you for the restless nights, for giving up your time and putting your children before yourself. We know the amount of effort you put in to raising your kids to ensure they get the best opportunities they can. But for Mothers day, you all deserve a gift that is almost as luxurious as you, a Silky Kisses silk pillowcase.
Silky Kisses silk pillowcases are perfect for every Mother, as they allow every Mother get a luxurious night of sleep, and as silk is smooth and allows for movement, it allows you to wake up and be ready for whatever the day brings, without the worry of creases on your face and knots in your hair, giving you more time to spend with your family.
Here at Silky Kisses, we sell our silk pillowcases in 20 luxurious colours, meaning that you are guaranteed to find the perfect colour to suit Mums’ bedroom, meaning that you can add the perfect luxurious feel to Mum’s room without her having to change anything
Your Mum will also love her silk pillowcase as it will be beneficial to her skin care routine, as silk has a very low absorption rate, meaning that night creams and moisturisers will last longer on the skin, and silk does not leave creases on the skin, it means Mum can wake up looking even more beautiful everyday.
And best of all the profits made from the sales of our silk pillowcases go to The Fistula Foundation. This foundation supports thousands of women suffering with an obstetric fistula from childbirth. They don’t have the means to have the surgery and often go without to provide for their children, so by gifting your Mother a silk pillowcase, you are also gifting another child with a happier and healthy Mother.
So thank you to all of our customers for treating your Mums, and for helping The Fistula Foundation,
Happy Mother’s Day,
The Silky Kisses team
People suffering from severe allergies and respiratory illnesses do not realise that it may be their bedding that is a contributing factor aggravating their condition. Us, as humans spend one-third of our lives in bed, making it important that our sleep experience is not only peaceful, but healthy.
Dust mites, pet dander, mould and mildew in our bedding car trigger allergic reactions. The results can be inflamed, congested, and irritated respiratory passages, as well as wheezing, watery eyes, constant sneezing, skin irritations such as eczema, and an uncomfortable sleep.
The Silky Kisses pillowcase is made from natural silk. Silk is an exceptional hypoallergenic material because it does not support dust mites as it helps by creating an effective barrier against nasty irritants and dander.
Silky Kisses pillowcases are soft, comfortable and luxurious and for people who change in temperature during the night, you can rest assured knowing your pillowcase can regulate your body temperature to alleviate any effects of night sweats and chills that can occur during menopause or when undergoing medical treatments such as chemotherapy or operations. It is all natural and breathable which prevents the accumulation of moisture. A Silky Kisses pillowcase could help people suffering from fibromyalgia to enjoy a more restful and relaxed nights sleep.
A good night's sleep affects our physical, mental, and emotional health and well being. It improves our energy levels, immune system, and memory capacity making it vitally important for everyone.
Knowing some the causes of allergies and how to reduce the conditions that create an allergy prone environment, will help you better control their effects. Using hypoallergenic material when sleeping allows you to get your 8 hours comfortably, resulting in an improved quality of life and health.
People who have asthma have airways that are very twitchy or sensitive. They may react to things that can (that is, make) asthma symptoms start. These things are aptly called, "triggers." When you are near an asthma trigger, your airways may become swollen, tighten up, and produce too much mucus. You may start to wheeze, cough, have congestion, itchy eyes, or a runny nose. It's important to find out what your asthma triggers are and figure out ways to control them.
If you, or someone you love suffers with Asthma, here are some simple ways you can begin to control dust mites, one of the main triggers for an Asthma attack:
- Dust weekly
- Sleep on hypoallergenic material
- Damp wipe mattress cover weekly
- Reduce clutter, toys and collections in bedroom
- Place stuffed toys in freezer overnight every week
- Put your pillow in an airtight cover or wash it every week in hot water
- Avoid sleeping or lying on upholstered furniture
- Remove carpets that are laid on concrete
- Wash your bed covers and clothes every week in hot water
- Use a dehumidifier
- Remove carpets and drapes from your bedroom. Use a washable window shade instead
- Clean or replace heat/air conditioner filter as per manufacturer's instructions, at least once each month.
- Avoid using a vacuum or being in a room while it is being vacuumed. If you must vacuum, one or more of the following things can be done to reduce the amount of dust you breathe in.
Silk is sympathetic to our bodies needs and works in conjunction with our bodies to help us get what we really want and need - contented, deep sleep.
Pete Malcom, Asthma guides, Sleep easy with Smartsilk Hypoallergenic Bedding, http://asthmaguides.blogspot.com.au/2010/03/sleep-easy-with-smartsilk.html
Silky Kisses silk pillowcases for women’s charity brings to you the benefits of silk with a better understanding of the healing energy of the colour that you’re drawn to.
Making choices easier.
Helping us help others…
The truth is that the power of colour is the essence of life. Colour is refracted light, it’s all around us and influences our lives all the time.
This is true, I’ve looked into it and know for certain that, like Plato and the rest, curing with colour exists.
Our Moon Mist Silver silk pillowcases will entice you with the light energy of this mysterious colour which represents openness and truth. This pillow case flashes the palest of green in a light tone within the silver silk fabric, creating a cool and shimmering magic in your bed. Although your eye can see a tiny hint of green in the silver fabric the reflections from the silver will pick up any colour in its vicinity, creating opalescent variances.
When you hold this 100% mulberry silk in 22 momme weight it feels and even looks like water pouring through your fingers, like life-giving water.
You are looking at Silky Kisses' Deep Forest Emerald silk pillowcases; they’re the colour of nature, of freshness and growth. This deep green conjures the mystery of tall stately trees, with their stability and endurance, fertility and persistence.
Restore your body and mind with this deep nurturing green, creating your own stability and endurance, refreshing and relaxing restoring your energy to cope with adversity.
This is the colour of regrowth and renewal for those who are exhausted or stressed.
This coral pink silk fabric inspires compassion, kindness and encourages self-respect. Summer Sorbet is an uplifting colour which helps to transform your old emotional patterns, and strengthens your life purpose.
This is not a satin pillowcase, which is plastic and creates static - not something you want in your bed.
Silky Kisses Summer Sorbet silk pillowcases are made with heavy 22 momme mulberry silk, in a Charmeuse style fabric; and the colour is remarkable; it’s not orange, not red, not pink, although this silk fabric colour takes the traits of these colours with much less intensity, with a touch of pale yellow to make this dreamy soft coral colour, adorable for those who love orange as an energy but want a lighter aspect.