Goal to be Zero Waste
I started this journey because I wanted to give back to the communities that my grandparents are from - but in setting up a social enterprise, I wanted to be conscious of the additional footprint that was being created, especially in the fashion industry. So the goal to be zero waste is very important. In keeping with the textile traditions of the Gujarat region of India, our scarves are hand woven using sustainable cotton, bamboo or cruelty free silk (eri silk). Zero electricity is used to make the product because all of the scarves are made using a hand loom machine and then hand block printed. The artisans use the sun to dry and set the colors onto the scarves and then all the washing is done by hand. Our block printer only uses only vegetable dyes, and that is not something new because of the awareness around the impacts of the fashion industry on pollution but it because that is how it has always been done for 2000 years. He doesn’t know how to work with chemical dyes and instead uses the ingredients from his natural environment - for example, he uses turmeric powder and pomegranate seeds to make yellow, rusted iron and sugar to make black, red is made using a mixture of tamarind paste, soil and herbs.
Given that the scarves are made in small batches and woven specifically to the length required, there is minimal offcuts. There is very little product that fails quality check because variations in color and printing are part of the genetic makeup of hand block printed textiles in small batches. The sun, the wind, even the water used will vary with each scarf therefore making each one a unique find. If we have any offcuts due to designs that did not work out, then we work with a London based company called Kapdaa to make this fabric into gift boxes. Customers have the option to have their scarves packaged in the beautiful recycled boxes or we offer to put them in an organic cotton drawstring bag that can be reused to store items for example while traveling.
Naturally the product has to get to me from India and this is one area the business that I am still working on to ensure it is done sustainably. Even though I am working with 3 families of artisans, we work together to make sure the product gets to us with as less impact as possible - within the villages they are transporting the goods on horse and cart! From India to me, I ask the artisans to work together to get less shipments to me. So again, still a work in progress but hoping to get something in place that offsets the carbon footprint.
The beauty of working with hand woven and hand block printed textiles is the methodology is taken from ancient times and carried forward to today. Therefore there is a mentality amongst all the artisans living in the villages that less is more. It is like stepping back in time when you visit their villages - purely magical!