Lessons from the Childhood- :
I hail from a middle class family with four siblings. My father belonged to a very well-to-do family; however he incurred huge losses when he started his own venture. He had to take up a job as an accountant and my mother joined as a school teacher to meet the needs of our family while my dad pursued higher education to get a better job. Watching my parents toil day in and out showed me what it means to be resilient. My first lesson of resilient leadership to handle setbacks, to lead in the most testing of crisis came in from my parents.
25 years back, when I took the decision to move to Mumbai to pursue my career and stay on my own, they totally supported me. As a parent today, I realise it was not easy for them – but their complete trust in me was admirable, during the times when staying alone was not as popular in culture. The challenges of being my own in Mumbai, managing things independently shaped me as an individual going forward.
Lastly, I believe, treating everyone with respect is the greatest value. While we were growing up, our house was always filled with family and friends from diverse backgrounds. I learnt the importance of nurturing relationships from my mother and she seemed to learn something from everyone.
Idea behind the initiative ‘ReshamDor’- :
Our rich heritage of art and craft is based on decades of ancestral wisdom and innate understanding of the ways in which humans and nature should work together. I believe that the Indian handloom industry, rooted in sustainability is well poised to drive the slow fashion movement forward.
Our vision at ReshamDor is to revive dying handloom clusters in India and establish artisans as custodians of art. We believe that our weavers should be rewarded equitable benefit-sharing for use of their knowledge and craft across the fashion industry as the world takes on the sustainability movement forward!
As we embark on our journey to lead the revival of Kharad rugs, a diminishing craft practised by only 2 families in India, we are creating a model that honours the traditional creativity of the artisans, by bringing them to the forefront, while we establish the brand identity of Kharad and establish the right market linkages. We would like to make this sustainable through investing in the community and empowering them to create change and encourage younger generation to pursue the craft.
Incorporating knowledge of IT and block chain technologies to vitalize handloom industry- :
I would like to combine my passion for handloom with my experience in technology to come up withsimple technology solutions to help the artisans and benefit this sector. As we progress further, we would like to use disruptive technologies like Blockchain to help consumers authenticate handmade products, preserve craft documentation and benefit artisans through smart contracts.
The handloom industry- evolution, key challenges and the future- :
There are multiple challenges that are plaguing the handloom and craft industry for years -cheap machine replicas eating into the market of handmade goods, low consumer awareness on the creative investment and the elaborate process of making these products, handloom and handicraft products sold by top brands without giving any due credit to artisans, broken supply chain linkages.
The future of creative India lies in reviving its past. We in India have flourished on creative economy for generations. We need to restore and leverage our unique creative advantages and build business models that revive and accelerate our creative economy with traditional communities as collaborators. I believe that the cooperative model applied by Amul needs to be applied in the handloom and craft industry cluster by cluster. This will not only provide a strong sense of identity to the future generations, but also bring back dignity to this profession.
To make this possible, we need a new generation of social entrepreneurs who have an affinity and passion towards art and handlooms to craft the right strategy to build assured market globally, fix broken linkages across the supply chain and establish the right brand identity of our crafts globally.
Turning obstacles in life into stepping stones- :
My biggest challenge was to give up a lucrative job, a well established career in technology to move into an area where I had no formal education to pursue my passion of empowering handloom weavers.
Another thing I learnt was to deal with rejection and not taking it personally. As a small business, we reached out to multiple people for establishing collaborations and we got tons of no’s, not interested and a cold shoulder. One tactic that worked for me was to consider a No as delayed yes. This really forced me to think about what can be done to make it work. We recently had our first success where continued persistence and to learn quickly from failures have helped us build key collaborations to move forward.
Mentors in life- :
My greatest mentor in life has been my father. He was a man of principle, and courage, and always followed his heart. As a family, we had our struggles however his large vision and positive attitude to make things happen in the most adverse times helped us sail through. Long before the Alchemist came in I have seen this quote work with him in life “When you want something, the universe conspires to make it happen.” He taught me the life lesson to dream big, of having the courage to pursue the path I want, to take calculated risks and instilled the confidence to pursue my vision.