Sustainability and Revival of Arts and Crafts through a medley of 9 Women Centric Stories
Sustainability and Revival of Arts and Crafts in a growing economy is essential to provide sustained livelihoods. Finding a calling in bringing to the forefront the beauty of our country and setting precedence are women from different parts of India. JD Institute of Fashion Technology, Bangalore celebrated and showcased the stories of 9 women during Navratri who are silently and with resilience continually working for the betterment not just of the environment but also generating livelihoods.
Phulkari, practiced in Punjab is a traditional embroidery technique. It is used by the older women of the house to embroider dupattas for a newborn girl. Her birth is a celebration as she is believed to be the creator of new life.
This traditional embroidery technique has become the source of livelihood for the women of Moonak, a town in Punjab. Using their skills they were able to incorporate their Phulkari skills in making colorful and creative masks during this pandemic which have found takers not just in India but also overseas.
Just because it is Traditional does not mean it is binding, it provides the basis to create something new yet retain its charm.
Lakshmi Menon, an Ecopreneur from Ernakulam, founded Pure Living to provide eco-friendly alternatives for plastic pens and wooden pencils. The unique venture upcycles discarded paper from the printing press to develop them into pens which are embedded with seeds. Hence, when the ink of the pen is over, rather than throwing it away in the bin, it can be planted to grow into trees.
Her venture is also unique as it employs and trains the elderly and differently abled women, thus providing them with an outlet to gain their livelihood without dependence.
Arundhati Kumar, Founder of vegan brand Beej, wanted to create awareness about sustainability.
Having harboured the need to start her own venture she left her cushy job of 17 years. After thorough research she zeroed in on using pineapple leaves, cork and cactus pulp to create accessories like clutch, laptop bags. The materials are partially or completely bio-degradable.
Mrinalini Shastry, a self-made businesswomen is the founder Six Yards Plus – a saree start-up. The venture rose from a need to revive artisanal sarees to make it mainstream for the urban woman who want to wear them to work as often as they can. Alongwith working with weaver clusters and open them to the right consumers who appreciate art.
Before her stint with entrepreneurship, Shastry had spent around 16 years working in the development sector, with many NGOs, social enterprises and, Andhra Pradesh Government. Her work led her to travel extensively which let her gain first hand insight into the weaver clusters and get a better understanding of different kinds of weaves.
Mother daughter duo Manika and Arunisha Sengupta of Choli Boli started their entrepreneurial journey to redefine the humble Saree blouse. Traditionally the upper garment (blouse) is tight fitted and is covered by the drape of the Saree.
This provided an inspiration for the duo to create a range of blouses that were chic, bold and trendy and did not need to be draped over by the Saree. Defying the age-old notion that Saree blouses have to be form fitting.
The mother daughter duo have been instrumental in creating employment opportunities by reaching put to migrant workers who have tailoring skills.
Preeta Dutta’s Miradorlife was born out of a personal experience while she was hunting decor for her home. Due to the lack of options in the market she started her entrepreneurial life in 2016.
The bespoke brand is not just any urban chic high end brand. Miradorlife specialises in personalised products that reflects the personality of the homeowner. What makes it stand out is that Dutta incorporates natural materials like reclaimed wood, cane, jute etc. She works closely with craftsmen from the grassroots level and local entrepreneurs to create eye-catching pieces and innovative products.
Through her start-up Dutta is providing platform to artisans and advocating a need to adopt a sustainable ideology.
Transforming the lives of women who are practicing a dying art form in the Kutch region of Gujarat is fashion designer Vanshika Gupta. She discovered Suf embroidery while carrying out research during her final year design course. It went onto become the focal point of her final year collection. This laid the foundation for her eponymous brand Label_Vanshika.
Through her endeavor, she wants to create awareness and provide a platform for women. The journey has also helped the craftswomen understand the possibilities of an amalgamation of new design and traditional forms in order to have a mass appeal. When the pandemic hit the globe, Vanshika decided to create masks with Suf embroidery. Through this, she could not only gauge customer reactions but also continue to provide livelihoods to the women and her staff.
Maya Anandan, a teen from New Delhi turned her hobby of tie and dye into a venture during the lockdown with the help of her friend. Their products include sweatshirts, t-shirts, scarves and face masks. Coordinating with vendors, advertising and publicity is handled by the girls themselves. Having made a decent profit in two months, Maya foresees potential in the business as tie and dye is here to stay. The lockdown has only popularised the trend among people.
The business is not just a passion project but one she can help to provide a livelihood to the women of an NGO based in New Delhi.
Janessaline Pyngrope, a Rural Development worker alongwith Fashion Designer Daniel Syiem from Meghalaya founded Daniel Syiem’s Ethnic Fashion House a bootstrapped endeavor to raise awareness and popularize Ryndia silk across the world. It is the only silk that is extracted without killing the worm.
Ryndia is common in Northeastern region and often garments made with Ryndia silk are handed down from one generation to another. The duo work exclusively with women weavers cooperative to revive the craft. The recognition has been slow and steady. Their brand now enjoys popularity in India and overseas.
Just like these 9 women entrepreneurs there are many such custodians of Sustainability and revivalists of arts and craft who continue to build this bank with their relentless efforts. Hats off to their efforts as they provide a ray of hope for the rich cultural heritage that our country is brimming with.
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