ARTISAN STORY: OUR SAYULITA KAFTAN

Meet the women and artisans behind our latest Sayulita Kaftan. Our Design Manager, Sarah and Technical Designer, Anna journeyed to Barmer, Rajasthan to meet the local artisan village. We are so proud to have the opportunity to work with this community and to see the beautiful hand-work of these talented women straight from their hands to yours.


Anna and I travelled from Jaipur in Rajasthan to embark on an exciting adventure for Spell. Nestled in the desert region of Barmer, we journeyed to meet a group of local, talented, artisan women who were in the process of embroidering our exquisite Sayulita Kaftans. 
 
We knew the journey was going to be a little out of the ordinary, many of the regions in this area are restricted being close to the border and also to protect these communities from outside influences.
 

Our Kaftans are being embroidered in the homes of 70 families within the village, the women work on these between looking after families, working in the home and on the farms. The monsoon season has been good here this year (sometimes this region does not receive rain all year) so when the rains are good, the crops are good and the women spend more time on the farm. Therefore the rate of work can fluctuate – as the rate of embroidery work goes down, more women come on board to help with the project to keep it running smoothly. Each household has one perfect sample to follow from the original families who sampled the styles.

 Artisans-Spell & The Gyspy Collective - India

 Artisans - Spell & The Gypsy Collective - India

Artisans-Spell & The Gypsy Collective - India
 
We spoke with a number of women including Janki Devi, the matriarch of the group, who we instantly fell in love with, she was sassy, sarcastic and had us in fits of giggles from the moment we met. Under the watchful eye of the women we were handed the kaftans to see if we could match their embroidering talents – unfortunately not a chance!! I have no idea how they make this look so easy, but they found it hilarious watching us fumbling slowly along – and mind you both Anna and I are quite crafty, Anna is a talented crocheter!  
 

Once the embroidery is finished, the Kaftans are transported, a few units at a time, by bus – there is only one bus each way per day – back to Jaipur where the team at our supply base carefully check each of the garments, correcting any stitching and putting them through the final wash process before packaging them up. The garments have been known to go back and forth on a bus when the person collecting them ran late one day – the bus waits for no-one and definitely not a stranded Kaftan!

 

Artisans- Spell & The Gypsy Collective - India

Artisans-Spell & The Gypsy Collective - India

Artisans - Spell & The Gypsy Collective

It is a long winded method but the village women are so incredibly grateful to have this opportunity, and that we have not taken the easy option of moving this to machine embroidery. Giving these women work not only supports handicrafts that would otherwise die out, it also gives them another means of income to help support their families.
 
Avneet, who helped us to connect with this group, explained how many companies start their sampling with these artisan groups, but with the pressure of fast fashion they quickly move their production to a machine so that their large quantities can be turned around extremely quickly, and without any discrepancy from piece to piece – fast fashion is truly destroying these beautiful handicrafts.
We love that each of our pieces has been created by hand creating a unique individual piece that can be cherished. 
 
As we finished the day watching the sun go down behind the sand dunes, we reflected on how incredible it is to slow down …. to take time, without rush, without speed, without haste. And how truly wonderful it is to use this mantra when we create, to produce something beautiful, slowly, to know that each piece has a story and a journey of its own….
Story by Sarah Ackroyd ~ Product & Design Manager
Images by Bhavesh Bhati
Artisan Story - Spell & the Gypsy Collective