Sabrina Mukund’s passion is to bring the chikankari craftsmen to the fore and educate the people about this ancient craft

Bugged with her corporate life of 14 years, Sabrina Mukund impulsively left her job and “took a sabbatical. I realised that I wanted to work and use my skills for a larger goal,” she says.

After a visit to her home town – Lucknow – in 2010, Sabrina travelled, studied, explored and researched the art of the chikankari, the art that “mesmerised” her. She then returned to Bangalore and started a boutique dedicated to the craft called Sooti Se Resham (SSR) in January 2012.

It translates to “cotton to silk, but, the boutique was not started on an impulse. My dream was to experiment with all kinds of fabric and see how they adapted them to this beautiful craft, which is traditionally done only on muslin,” she explains.

“For me chikankari is a heritage, it’s a beautiful craft that Noorjahan brought to India 500 years ago. But it’s a painstakingly slow art. Sometimes it takes about six to eight months to complete a sari,” she adds and takes you through the history of this craft.

“Chikankari is an ancient from of white floral embroidery, intricately worked with needle and raw thread. Its delicacy is mesmeric. There are approximately 36 types of known stitches in this craft. Tepchi, bakhiya, hool, zanzeera, Rahet and so on and each stitch has its own personality.”

A stitch in time

Sabrina has interacted with families that are into this craft for the last 20 generations to work for her boutique. “The karigar community still struggles for a decent living. For generations they have produced such ethereal embroidery, yet are not recognised.

Our aim is to bring them to the centre stage and offer them 30 per cent of our profit for their development. We also want to make every customer understand the process behind this rich tapestry of craft. We are tied up with 100 artisans in Lucknow.”

SSR offers clothes for men, women and children. The kurtis start at Rs. 1,000. Sabrina is also open to customising anything. She has even crated an evening gown with this intricate hand embroidery.

There are palazzos with jackets, tunics with stoles, spaghetti tops with fabrics crepe and organza. You will also find anarkalis, long kurtas, kurtis, saris etc. Sabrina also offers a range of home linen with bed spreads and cushions and wedding trousseau options with this ancient craft.

She also uses fabric like chanderi, khadi, kota, crepe, chiffon, georgette and tussar silk besides muslin and regular cotton for her creations. The biggest challenge of this work, says Sabrina is the time.

“Hand embroidery is a labour of love. The price of a hand embroidered apparel is more and we need people who understand and appreciate the craft,” says Sabrina.

Sooti Se Resham has one outlet in Bangalore, Off Old Madras Road. Shortly the products will be available out of the website and you can also follow them on https://www.facebook.com/sootiseresham2012