When Karghaa first set up shop in upmarket Banjara Hills last July, the aim was to carve a niche for itself and its 120 weavers. Today, a year since it first made its debut, the store has done that and more, with bulk orders being placed for their intricate weaves by fashion houses and a loyal clientele base.
The store, which is a weavers initiative, was set up by Chenetha Colour Weaves (CCW), a handloom weaver owned social enterprise. The organisation which initially operated from Choutuppal moved base to Banjara Hills, with the view of making their weaves more accessible to city shoppers and attract the big guns. “We have nearly 120 weavers who are a part of the initiative and this is an attempt to ensure that they get the full profits for their skills. With no middle men in the equation, it is the weavers who stand to profit,” says Sudha Rani, chief executive officer, at CCW.
What started off as a study to investigate the crisis that sparked farmer and weaver suicides in 2004, soon developed into a sustainable model to revive the dying art of ikat weaves. As part of the initiative even women weavers are encouraged to take on more important roles. “Earlier women were left to do the pre-loom work which was not considered as important. But we encourage the women also to work at the loom and take charge of the business. In fact, we even write out pay cheques in the names of the women weavers, which are then deposited into their accounts to ensure that the money is directed towards the family’s needs,” explains Sudha. The organisation also ensures that fair trade policies are adopted, which means that there is gender parity in every sphere and no child labour involved.
Today with 120 weavers under its wing, Karghaa has for sale intricately woven saris, dupattas, stoles, bed linen, curtains, skirts, palazzos and even accessories like bags and jewellery. Incidentally, the jewellery at the store is made from left over fabric and an interesting collection of beads.
The weavers are also being encouraged to revive the dying art of weaving Teliya Rumaal saris. “Earlier this particular weave was very popular and would be imported to countries abroad. Today however, there are very few people who can undertake this intricate form of weaving. We are trying to revive the art and are introducing it to youngsters,” says Sudha.
With Karghaa gaining more and more popularity, it caters to bulk orders from retailers like Fab India, Jaypore and India Roots apart from filling orders for major fashion houses as well. “We are also looking to promote Karghaa as an independent label sometime in future. But there is still a long way to go before we can do that,” says Sudha.
The store at Banjara Hills, which will celebrate its first anniversary soon, has planned a three-day exhibition-cum-sale from July 3, when visitors can interact with weavers.