Episode 6: Indian Handloom Communities with Smita Paul of Indigo Handloom
I felt so lucky to talk to Smita Paul for the Weave podcast today. Smita is the founder of Indigo Handloom, which works with over 500 weavers in rural India to produce beautiful, handwoven textiles using ancient techniques. Founded in 2003, their work helps to revive the traditional textile arts of kahdi (hand-spun yarn) and handloom weaving while supporting community development in rural India and working to reduce the carbon footprint of textiles.
I first met Smita a few years ago at a trade show in New York City, where I was looking to source fabric for a line of Jewish prayers shawls I was designing. In a sea of crappy mass-produced polyester fabrics that lined the trade show, I distinctly remember sitting down at Smita’s booth and opening up her book of gorgeous fabric samples and immediately thinking: this fabric has soul. I’m honored to have worked with Indigo Handloom several times over the past few years to create a handspun, hand-dyed, handwoven fabric for these prayers shawls - and I get so much feedback from my customers about holy this cloth feels.
In this podcast conversation, we discussed how Smita went from working as a journalist to founding Indigo Handloom, the challenges that weaving communities in India are facing, how she works with both emerging designers and large brands to build out a market for handwoven fabric, and much more. Give it a listen and then comment below to let me know what you think!
(The video and all photos below provided by Indigo Handloom.)