I believe the way in which I express my creativity primarily stems from my childhood. I have memories from my early days of playing with my mother’s silk sari’s, of making clothes of my Barbie dolls and for myself. A lot of these memories center around the many visits to my mother's hometown in India. As I grew into my teens these trips turned into opportunities to make my own customised garments for special occasions; from selecting the fabric, to dyeing it, and having it embroidered by local tailors. I remember visiting my grandfather's fabric printing mill and seeing first hand how the block prints on sari’s were done. Seeing what a beautiful process this hand craft is, I knew I wanted to bring these traditional artisanal skills to the global forefront in a timeless way. As my knowledge on the fashion industry broadened (having watched documentary: True Cost of Living, River Blue) I saw the impact that fast fashion has on our environment. I knew my brand needed to be purpose led with a more mindful approach, of it being part of slow fashion and an overarching goal of minimizing our footprint on the earth.
The Journey to India:
Though I am based in New Zealand, the work behind creating Xaura as both a concept and a brand happened in India. Within my first sourcing trip to India I sourced for fabric, suppliers, artisans and found a great patternmaker, Anwar. He helped me create my pieces and bring to life the designs I had drawn for the Mughal Collection. We made some prototypes and after many sessions making little adjustments to the fit and feel of the designs I settled on my final patterns. I knew that for Xaura I only wanted to utilise fabrics made from natural fibres as they bring more natural vibrations, which is something I wanted to showcase with my Xaura Pieces. With this I made the choice to work with cotton and linen fabrics as they are both biodegradable, making them the more sustainable option compared to polyester.
On my second trip to Mumbai, India I found a supplier that met the brand's requirements of (1) small production that incorporated ethical fair-trade practices such as fair wages, (2) a transparent supply chain, (3) a safe work environment for its workers, and (4) artisans working with them who provided traditional handmade skills. After that I spent many weeks testing colours, scaling embroidery patterns, and getting carvings of prints on wooden blocks for the prints. Eventually, the styles were ready for us to create a final sampling of the garments. Working with the grass roots artisans and seeing the garments of my first collection come to life made me feel like a kid again. I launched the first part of my collection on April 14th 2019
On the heels of a great response for the first half of my Mughal collection I was ready to start work on the launch of the second part which took me to India again. However this time I went to Delhi where I found a factory run by a woman named Sonam, who also collaborates with NGO groups to empower women. I planned for the latter collection to consist of hand block print techniques, which are more reminiscent of those found in the North parts of India. To help me on my journey I was introduced to the lovely Puran who works in quality control. With Puran I was able to visit block printers in their villages and test the prints and colours on my fabrics. This part was a lot of fun as I was also able to try the process out myself. After a few months of sampling and production, I released the second part of my collection.
This is my story so far as an entrepreneur and what an amazing journey it's been. In the next part i’ll share some challenges and Brand's vision and mission. Thank you all for your support, as without you this journey wouldn't have been possible.
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