Our Savitri Sakhi Collection celebrates the spirit of friendship and so it is perhaps fitting, that it was co-created with a talented young man whom I am proud to call my friend-- Nasir Ansari of Maheshwar.
I first got to know Nasir in 2010 when I was put in charge of teaching him and a bunch of youngsters "Marketing" in Maheshwar by the redoubtable Sally Holkar. Understanding that it is better to teach a man how to fish than to give him one, Mrs Holkar had the truly unique vision of equipping the young weavers of Maheshwar with a modern skill-set needed to ensure they thrive in a rapidly changing world. She later grew this vision to The Handloom School but that is a story for another day. At this point, it was my colleague Neha and me under a tin-shed, quite clueless about what we were to do, addressing a bunch of equally clueless youngsters. However, Bollywood saved the day. Once we found common ground in discussing Atif's songs, the ice was broken!
Neha and I both moved on to other assignments soon, but we stayed in touch with Nasir and the group and watched their amazing journey. At at time when the national discourse was about how youngsters are just not interested in taking up weaving and how handlooms are going to die, Nasir and his classmates Wasim, Aasif, Muzammil and Rahat set up their own enterprise called FabCreation.
With a dedication and focus akin to Ritesh Agrawal of Oyo, they grew this business as well as their own individual family enterprises. Simultaneously, Nasir also completed his BBA and MBA. It is this focus on education that really helped him achieve his dreams says Nasir. There are many younger generations of artisans today who are naturally gifted but are not able to realise their full potential due to lack of education, he tells me. "Handlooms are the hidden gold of our country that we are not being able to mine fully!"
Nasir's looms are normally booked to the maximum so I was lucky to catch him on some downtime during lockdown. One of the few rays of sunshine in this gloomy year has been collaborating with him on the Savitri Sakhi collection. Though I have known him for many years, I was still amazed by his attention to detail and innate understanding of the nuances of the craft as well as our need to feed the social media monster. Whether it was choosing the perfect Maheshwari border design for each saree, the ratio and proportion of the weft stripes or taking beautiful process pictures for our Insta page, this entire collection has been a truly collaborative effort, a fitting tribute to friendship, handlooms, India and the great things we achieve when we collaborate.
The Savitri Sakhi collection is now available online here. Pieces are very limited so get yours now!