By Hand From The Heart is a curated Makers Market event in South India. Upcoming Events: 22nd Edition: 2nd – 3rd February '18 in Coimbatore | 23rd Edition: 16th – 17th – February '18 in Chennai.
Today on our Meet The Makers Series; we feature Varsha Devjani – Lajwanti Kulkarni, Designers and Founders, The Sufi Studio, Mumbai; The team share with us in details about their venture, projects, work space and showcase at the By Hand From The Heart Makers Market this July 2017.
Can you introduce yourself and describe what you do.
We are a sister duo who come from different backgrounds. Founder, Varsha Devjani, is an alumni of the National Institute of Design and Co-founder, Lajwanti Kulkarni, comes with a long and very valuable fashion retail experience across various areas of production and planning. Sometimes, for a laugh, we call ourselves The Sufi Sisters given the name of our brand The Sufi Studio and also because we have been working out of different cities, workshop and studio every time we do a new collection since we started our studio in July 2016. We both are dreamers and driven by passion to pursue what we strongly believe in.
We work with crafts, sustainable practices and small businesses. Our products do not abuse the earth, our aesthetic celebrates craft and we believe in style over fashion. Hence our collections are timeless and can be worn years down the line.
Why is making important to you?
The reasons are many.
We have a strong aversion to fast fashion and unethical methods of making a product the way the biggest fashion retailers do. We believe there is a better way to create. Hence all our products are made responsibly using ethical and eco-friendly processes. This is challenging and we are moving towards making it zero-waste one step at a time.
Secondly, its a medium of expression and is an intimate process. Its being able to bring to life what we believe in. We are nervous every time we experiment with a new idea and launch it after we have put in our heart and soul into its making. But when it is appreciated by the wearer the whole process becomes soul satisfying.
How did you get to where you are now?
We are taking baby steps as not working with conventional methods of crafting a product is hard and sometimes challenging. We started off crafting our brass jewellery ourselves last year and then went on to launch the apparel range when we were ready early this year. At The Sufi Studio, we have made a choice to question every process and ask if we can do it better. We work directly with the artisans to ensure they benefit instead of the middlemen. This ensures better quality of workmanship and creates a connection with our heroes.
Tell us about your recent works and your proposed showcase at the By Hand, From The Heart.
We are showcasing a range of jewelry crafted in hand-beaten brass and rough-cut semi-precious stone. It is our new range which is totally hand-made.
We are also showcasing an eclectic mix of Apparel that is hand-block printed, or yarn-dyed in eco-friendly dyes. Our silhouettes are fluid, bohemian and very versatile. Some of our garments are reversible.
We are showcasing a stitched saree which is extremely easy to wear and can be teamed with a shirt/tank top or anything you find in your existing wardrobe and not necessarily with a blouse. We are trying to make the saree more wearable for the younger generation who is conscious about their bodies and sometimes avoid wearing it just because of what they consider as ‘body flaws’. It can be worn in less than a minute just like a regular skirt and a top and can be draped in many different ways.
About your artisans & work space.
Our apparel workshop is presently in Bombay and the jewelry is crafted with our artisans in Ahmedabad. We work out of our home studio in Bombay where all the conceptualization happens after which we move on to our workshop space to sample and produce either in Bombay or Ahmedabad.
We also travel together to create our fabrics in other parts of the country which allows us to work with different artisans and build a rapport with them. It also allows them most benefit instead of the middlemen.
What is a typical working day, like.
Unpredictable, as both of us presently live in different cities and work across both. Sometimes both of us are in Bombay conceptualizing our new collection and sampling in our home studio and sometimes we are in Ahmedabad crafting our new jewelry collection. We both travel to accommodate the sampling and production based on the requirement. A lot of day to day tasks and decisions happen over Skype.
What is your personal favorite pick at The Sufi Studio right now? And why?
It is our very breezy Reversible Jumpsuit made out of fine quality mulmul. It represents best what The Sufi Studio is – individualistic, bohemian and experimental.
Its a product that fits all body types and camouflages the body flaws. The fact that the garment is reversible is what makes it very exciting as both the inside and outside are very different from each other. Hence the customer gets to alternate between two prints/colors in a single garment.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting your business.
Pursuing slow fashion and sustainability is difficult and hence takes time and a lot more effort. Consistency and commitment are key! We stay committed to using thoughtful and slow methods of crafting without compromising on quality and abusing the earth.
Handmade/Made in India/ Make in India – What does it mean to you?
It means promoting local made stuff hence reducing the carbon footprint and assisting a local business thrive. Sourcing locally also creates a sustainable eco-system for the craftsman, designers and its consumers. It also means representing the rich heritage of our country and putting it on the world map.
By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 20th Edition
Date: Friday – Saturday, 7th – 8th July, 2017
Time: 10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Venue: Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
Address: 132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India