While cynics still continue to condescendingly retort handloom as a sunset industry; efforts happening in Maheshwar, a small town of Madhya Pradesh, seem to make a dent on this Que Sera Sera mental model.
The story of Manish is a subtle reflection of larger experiment of The Handloom School wherein mentor buyer joins hand with efficient and effective weaver entrepreneur.
Manish, a teenage boy from a traditional weaving family in Maheshwar, like majority of the boys of his age, didn’t have any concrete plans for his career. He studied till class 8th but didnt find prospects in continuing with education. He dropped out from the village school & learnt weaving from his father, as – a ‘standby’ ‘time pass’ activity.
He, then, didnt realize that handloom weaving was going to be a life turning event for him.
While his life was drifting in the precincts of 10*8 square foot loom- weaving for master weaver and roaming around with friends in the evening, he decided to join 2nd batch of The Handloom School.
He underwent rigorous coursework on design, business management, spoken English and Social media tools for business & completed his classroom segment in August 2015.
He did his internship at Nalli’s and Raw Mango as a part of the coursework. Towards end of coursework he started dreaming of setting up his own handloom enterprise.
On the other hand, Parull, founder of ‘Gayattri Navyatta’ whose first love has been block printing, was looking for talented weavers to begin her flagship store by end of summer 2016. Through this store Parull dreams to drape every woman with her exclusive handcrafted sarees and fabrics.
While searching on internet, she got to know about The Handloom School initiative.
She approached us with ideas brimming her mind and quest to find a weaver who is ‘flexible’, ‘understands her requirements’, ‘has ability to weave in all fibers’ and can weave ‘contemporary designs rooted in traditional motifs’. We connected Parull with Manish.
Parull is working closely with Manish, as his first mentor client. She feels happy working with him as he understands her language, values commitment for timelines, weaves defect-free and uses social media tools like whatsapp and email for updating her. She has placed an initial order to Manish for 3 months, which is the biggest order for him till date. She aims at working with Manish on a regular basis and help him organize his enterprise.
Manish, now, is not just a receiver of pre-decided design and raw material but is also closely involved with his mentor client Parull, in planning the design, color combinations and determining his weaving fees (& not wages).
Now he is not merely a wage-weaver but a budding weaver entrepreneur !
A small clip documented during Parull’s last visit succinctly captures this new concept of “mentor clients” working with “young talented weavers”.
By fostering a new generation of young artisans and developing their ability to operate in the global market, The Handloom School will not only preserve and transform the art of handloom but also empower weaving communities to improve and sustain their future and livelihood.