Happy Diwali to all of our friends across the world!
It’s holiday season here in India and Diwali, the festival of light, is the main event which this year falls on 23rd October. It is a period of great celebration with people cleaning and painting their houses and the decorating them with lights. The hope is the your home becomes attractive and inviting to the Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth. It is also the new year celebration. During the day a lot of very loud bangers can be heard and at night the sky is lit up with thousands of fireworks. There is also plenty of gift giving and a lot of sweets are exchanged and consumed.
Around this time there are many other celebrations and on 21st October we went to our yoga school in Rajpur to celebrate Patanjali Jayanti – Jayanti is the birthday of someone who is dead and Patanjali is the author of the yoga sutras.
As you can see from the pictures it was a lovely celebration the building and gardens having been decorated flowers, rangolis and lights. We had a very informative talk about the history of yoga asanas (postures), there was also wonderful music from a Sitar maestro and his top students and then we had delicious food in the garden.
Well after hours of sampling on the computer we have decided on our colour schemes for our first print run of our dino print. We are going with 2 colour ways and we are very happy with them and they are…
We are not going to tell you.
We really love keeping the world up to date with what we are doing but we feel that we have to keep a little mystery.
The Diwali holiday season is upon us right now so there will be a delay in getting the printing started and we are going to get a sample printed first to make sure that we are 100% happy with the final result so we are hoping to get the full order of final final fabric in around 3 weeks. And it’s all very exciting!
This afternoon we received these photos from Jaipur of our blocks being made. They are now finished and will spend a few days in oil before they can be used. We have also submitted our first order for fabrics so the next step is that they will make some samples for us in the colours that we have specified.
This is definitely a huge turning point for us. Given the treatment of the fabric before and after printing it’s still going to be a few weeks before we get the full order but we are still very excited.
It is a beautiful sunny October morning here in Dehradun and we took the opportunity to visit the Bajaj School for Deaf Children which is very close to where we are based. Although the school is closing down for the Diwali break we managed to grab 20 minutes with the Principal, Anjali.
It was a delightful and productive meeting. We are keen to give work to those who are disadvantaged in society but without compromising on the quality of the finish and the school most definitely ticks both of those boxes. They offer vocational courses in tailoring and their work is of a very high standard – we have been very keen to work with them since seeing some of their products earlier in the year. They are very positive about working with us and we are going to visit them again after Diwali.
One of the aims of Kurma is to bring more work to Dehradun and although Jaipur is the centre for block printing in India we had always hoped to bring this skill to our region. One unexpected outcome from our meeting with Anjali is that she knows of people here in Dehradun who are already engaged in block printing. We don’t know much about their work yet but Anjali is keen for us to meet with them.
So far all of the signs are very encouraging.
Here are a few more pictures which are from the Khadi shop in Dehradun. Very simple shops making a huge impact on India, continuing the great work of Mahatma Gandhi.
Kurma is a real passion for us, there are many aspects to each product. There is the design of the pattern and what technique will be used to put it onto the fabric, the colours used and then there is the fabric itself. We are focussed on cotton but that still leaves us with many decisions to make about the colour of the base fabric and the thickness of it, i.e. thread count, but one type of fabric that we love is Khadi.
Khadi is homespun and hand-woven fabric and is part of the movement intiated by M.K.Gandhi as a way of boycotting expensive British clothing and helping to make India self-reliant. Across India there are Khadi shops which now sell a wide range of products but the homespun cotton is still the superstar. Khadi is now a government organisation and it is widely popular. The cottons come in endless varieties of qualities, weights and colours which means we get to spend lots of time checking out lots of different fabrics. We have literally gasped at one fabric because it was of such beautiful quality.
I’m including some pictures here of some of the fabrics that we have bought in the last few days. We are lucky that our first customer has commissioned some bags from us and she has specified that we use Khadi.
In time we hope to offer a Kurma Khadi range of products to help support an organisation which we believe in, does a lot for India and creates some amazing fabrics.
Clearly different fabrics, the bottom fabric is harder wearing
Handspun cotton which is then hand-woven
Medium weight fabric suitable for clothing
New designs are created all the time
Well it looks like we have our first customer! We have been asked to design and create some bags for a client in Delhi who we met when we were there in the last couple of days. We have done some initial artwork and we are meeting a local printer in the morning as we are now back in Dehradun.
We had such an amazing trip to Jaipur and so we have planned to spend a little time on Saturday going through the last couple of weeks since we properly started working on Kurma to get some perspective on what we have achieved and what we have learned and what we are going to do next. We plan to have these sessions regularly and we are borrowing the essence of the retrospective which you would see in any healthy software development team. We are trying to take our inspiration from the best practices which we have seen in our personal and professional lives and bring them into Kurma. Over the coming weeks and months we will share in the ups and downs – the successes and failures that we go through. We know that we will make mistakes and we are ready to learn from them, we just hope that we are able to cope with them financially. Anyway it’s late now and we have had an exhausting few days and there is a lot to do in the next few days before Diwali so I’ll keep this blog mercifully brief.
Now we have finalised how the design will look and we have traced it digitally so that we can mock up some colour combinations – one of which you can see below. It gives us an idea of what the print will look like but it doesn’t have the texture and the natural imperfections that give the finished product its character.
We will take some time to put some combinations together once we are back in Dehradun as today is our last half day in Jaipur. We also have a day in Delhi on our way back.