"I love that these textiles are centuries old yet still so relevant in today's lifestyles across the world."
Indu and Chitra are a mother and daughter team from the beautiful city of Kerala. Indu has worked as a research... assistant at the Indian Institute of Management and at Kuwait University, while Chitra is a graphic designer with two master's degrees in fine arts.
"My love affair with weaving began in 1981 when I started my career with a handloom project," Indu says. "Since then, I learned about the plight of people in this cottage industry. After 22 years in academia, I decided to work to improve India's handloom weaving industry. I wanted to do something for the artisan community, so I started a workshop with my daughter, who is a graphic designer, and we formed a team of artisans.
"As we began our first project, we imagined a multitude of ways to use the thorthu towel fabric and take it out of its humble context. This was met with a lot of skepticism from the market. When we finally debuted our collection of home textiles, it was phenomenal to see the positive and uplifting response to our work. We are so proud to have taken this textile on a wonderful journey to share it with the world."
"I love my mother's close involvement with the artisan community, and am fascinated by the versatility of this art," Chitra says. "As a traditional graphic designer, I strongly believe that form and function are inextricably linked in any successful design project. I love that these textiles are centuries old yet still so relevant in today's lifestyles across the world.
"All our designs are crafted in weaving cooperatives across Kerala. The artisans work exclusively with cotton provided to them by the government yarn banks across the state. This is an elaborate system set up by the Indian government in the 1960s. We ensure that this excellent system and its skilled artisans' work can be seen all over the world.
"We believe the potential uses of these versatile textiles are endless — from towels to sarongs to blankets, picnic mats and more.
"We are seeking a sustainable market to provide the weaving cooperatives with orders throughout the year. Thus, we actively exhibit our work at trade events and partner with larger stores and hotels. But we are constantly working to improve as we grow.
"One of the biggest factors in our success has been the constant support of our family members and our local community. Though we've experienced many ups and downs, their encouragement and enthusiasm motivate us to work harder to overcome any obstacle."
"My daughter Chitra takes care of the designs while I organize the work process," Indu says.
"We also collaborate with a very talented team of textile designers, product managers and strategists, in addition to quality control experts and tailoring teams.
"We love working with artisans who are not only highly skilled but also passionate about this art. We collaborate with them and often seek their advice on projects, designs and repurposing traditional techniques.
"Through our workshop and projects, we're able to popularize and revive this art, and support artisans. We rely on women to do the sewing. This empowers our community as these women have become financially independent, and have a friendly work environment."