“When you listen to other women’s stories, you begin to understand your own better, and you begin to find ways back through and with each” – Eve Ensler
With this belief, we move forward to bring you stories which inspire and bring us all together under the same umbrella in the storm this world faces today. This is the first blog in the series of many more to come, where we will talk to a woman who has followed her heart to take a path less traveled and in doing so, changed the mindsets of people and altered the lives of women around her. Giftpiper comes together with KhaDigi and Umang Shridhar.
A SHORT INTRODUCTION AND HOW KHADIGI STARTED…
My name is Umang and I started my startup in the year 2015. Basically, my whole idea of starting a venture was to provide employment to women in the rural areas. Khadi fits in beautifully with this vision as it provides employment to women at their home just by spinning the cotton yarn and weaving it and making this beautiful fabric which is Khadi. Initially, I did a lot of research on the already existing artisans and upscaling them. On the fabric front, we tried digital printing so that the youth accepts it and started a clothing brand called Khadigi. Later on, we got incubated by Startup Oasis which is an incubation centre of IIM Ahmedabad, when we changed our whole business model to being a B-2-B fabric company. Right now, we are supplying fabrics to big designers like Gaurang Shah, Ayush Kasliwal and also recently converted Reliance as our customer so we will be supplying fabrics to Reliance as well.
I was born in a village and I saw a lot of potential in rural women as they are very hard working and possess a lot of strength and stamina compared to urban people, even though they are not educated. I realized that they can have a very good lifestyle with what they know. My focus and centre of attraction became women.
ROLE OF WOMEN IN YOUR LIFE
My mother was my first financer in this whole journey. Being a housewife she is always there to take care of me, promoting me and giving me that strength that you can go out and work hard. Also, my grandmother has been a great role model. We are working with all women artisans. KhaDigi is a women centric organization.
ESSENCE OF BEING A WOMAN
A woman is someone has empathy, someone who nurtures. The state of our world is such that women need to take the lead and make it a better place to live in. So, I feel that I am very fortunate to be a woman.
I was sitting with one of the National Award winning spinners. I asked her “Why you do what you do?” She pointed to one of the walls and asked- “What is that?”. I said- “It’s a national award”. She said- “Agar mai kisi ke ghar me Taj Mahal bhi bana du to mujhe National Award nahi milega.” (Sitting at my home and spinning on this charkha I received the honour of a National Award. No other profession will bring me this laurel.) This was the most inspiring conversation I ever had with an artisan. When you listen to the stories of women in rural India, you realize how they struggle and every day they are like warriors.
A PIECE OF ADVICE
I think the best piece of advice was given by my mentor. I was very passionate, still am and will always be but in that passion, I used to lose focus and that’s why it was taking so much time to really bring impact. So she said that I ask you to go deep and you go wide. So it’s so important to go deep.
NEW INNOVATIONS BY KHADIGI
Khadi is a process to make fabric which is hand spun and hand woven in cotton, silk and wool. I decided to try it with bamboo fibre or soya waste fibre. We were quite unsuccessful in the beginning but we did not give up on the idea of creating it. It is a blend of cotton and bamboo, handspun and hand woven and we created fabulous fabrics which are loved by the industry.
It is a revolution and people love it so much. The whole world is becoming conscious of what they wear and its impact on the environment. Sustainable fashion is here to stay, and Khadi symbolizes it aptly.