In Conversation with Asha Scaria
Another thing that I’m very curious about is the Indigo in your clothes, is there a story behind that?
We went on a road trip to people who sell clothes near Dungarpur. We asked people what are the sustainable, organic dyes being used nearby, sustainable prints being used. Jaipur is the nearest hub for clothes so we went to the local market and asked, they pointed us to Akola, that’s the closest place where organic dyes are being used. It’s a village which is doing Dabu printing with indigo. We spoke to the artisans there, they loved our cause and we liked their way of working, so we directly started sourcing from a house there.
Swara comes from the ‘Sapta Swar- sa re ga ma pa dha ni’. So we thought that Swara shouldn’t be limited to Dungarpur. There were other girls like me working in other areas of India who were working with local women, weavers, printers, who wanted to be a part of this. So I realised that Swara had the potential to expand. So we thought ‘Sa’ was for the collection from Rajasthan that’d be purely Indigo, ‘Ri’ will be another collection from Kerala because that’s where my roots are. So we are planning an ayurvedic dyed collection to be our next. Then we can have a cultural exchange, so ‘Sa’ and ‘Ri’ can meet for this exchange.
What is your vision for your work?
We started with a very ambitious goal to employ 100 women by the end of 2018. But we realised that it wasn’t an easy task. Currently, we work with five women who work from their homes in Dungarpur. But now we have a more realistic goal, so to employ 100 women in three years and explore six different collections, like clothes for ayurvedic properties which will be good for your health. Quality is an issue, and we are struggling with expansion.
Who are your favourite artists?
I really like Pero, how they’ve combined the Indian embroidery with Western aesthetic. I think that’s really beautiful. We also hope to create something new that people will love. We have experimented with modern silhouettes with Indian prints.
Your favourite activity that motivates & inspires you?
I’m currently reading Sapiens, and I’m learning a lot about why we are the way we are. I’m also able to understand the women I work with a little better. How we are evolved in different ways, and how cultural influences us so much. I also like Shawshank Redemption.
How do you ensure sustainability?
In the beginning, it was about we know where our clothes are from. I know how the supply chain functions, and there is very clear communication across it. everybody treats there activity individually, so I ask them a lot of questions about where this was before it reached them. So it’s interesting to see how they connect the steps.
Secondly, the dyes we use are organic, so organic indigo. We don’t create any waste, whatever bits come out of manufacturing we put into our tote bags. When we send the clothes to our customers, we put them into our tote bags. Currently we are packaging the tote bags in plastic, but we are going to explore organic plastic going forward and replace it.