One of the first questions people ask me in the context of my business is “Where do your products come from?”. It’s a question that's the first of many, and leads to a conversation I find myself having quite frequently. So I thought it might be interesting to share these points here on the blog—and I'd love you to join this short Q&A:
1 / Where do our products come from?
The short answer is India (which was probably obvious, given the name of my business!)
The long answer is: From all over a vast and incredibly varied sub-continent. In the course of running my business, I’ve learnt that the process of creating a single product is a long and intensive one.
With some products, the materials and/or techniques used to create them originate in one part of the country, and they’re finished in another, as with some of our Leah Singh products. Their beauty relies on very regional techniques like Kashmiri wool-embroidery or Punjabi embellishment, and so production is location-specific. The finishing touches happen in Leah’s New Delhi Studio.
The entire process can also be rooted in one location, as is the case with our Kara Weaves products, which are produced entirely in Kerala, South India: cotton yarn is hand woven into amazingly soft fabrics that are washed and dried, before being made into towels, napkins, tea towels and a whole range of other products.
2 / How are our products made?
Each product has a lot of love and passion put into it and takes a long time (days, mostly!) to finish. A large part of the process involves hand-driven techniques like weaving, embroidering, printing and sewing, in the case of textile-based products. Our chocolates, turmeric and skincare products are made using processes that are equally time-consuming and human-driven, though in other ways. All our jewellery is handmade, whether from old sari scraps or gold-plated brass.
These traditional ways of creating and making are neither easy nor particularly efficient, and they require a great degree of skill and experience. However, each is a living tradition that brings an inexpressible beauty to the finished products.
3 / Are our products ethically made?
Each of the brands I showcase is transparent about production processes and their intent to support ethical working conditions. Many have their own small production facilities and pay their employees many times more than local rates. Some are social enterprises, others small business units that help give their all-female teams business know-how and financial independence. Each has a different focus, but what they share is a desire for positive impact—through great design and even better ethics.
None of these brands, whether fashion or homewares, is trend-based, and each creates pieces that are timeless, elegant and functional. They work with high-quality materials like cotton, silk and wood that are biodegradable, and the quality of craftsmanship is meant to ensure each piece stays with you for a long time.
Here's an example: One of my favourite fashion brands, The Summerhouse, takes care not to put zippers in their pieces. This reduces the risk of a garment being discarded when the zipper stops working, and the consumer can use it much longer. It's also an ethical decision, yet oriented differently to how we've been trained to view ethics in current times.
/ Who makes these products?
Each product is a result of much work and many hands. Take a Safomasi print, for example: a sketch on paper becomes a print on-screen, which is then painstakingly transferred onto fabric by expert screen printers. After being washed and dried, the fabric returns to the studio, and is turned into beautiful cushion covers, quilts, table cloths and tea towels by their talented team of on-site tailors.
Sometimes the entire process is off-site, and happens in remote areas as is the case with certain House of Wandering Silk products—and the magic is that they bring employment straight to womens’ homes, rather than the other way around, specifically in areas where travel to factories or workshops may be difficult, given geographical or cultural restrictions.
I hope my answers have allowed you take a good look behind the scenes. If there’s anything you’re still curious about, please let me know through the comments or as a message—I’d love the chance to connect!
Images: Title image: Ivana Krzelj and as credited on each image