Monday, November 14, 2011

Block prints at Kara!

The latest addition to our crew of block prints, these polka prints are on 100% cotton table napkins, on sale here!
New prints with a custom-carved linoleum block, on sale soon!
I've been meaning to write about our new block print collection, but have been so busy printing and shooting for the collection that almost ran out of time! So here is the update:

As this past summer drew to a close and our first promotional sale was off to a fabulous start (thank you shoppers!), we got back to the drawing board for some new directions. I've been wanting to work on surface printing for a very very long time, so I decided this was going to be the perfect opportunity to develop a new line for Kara Weaves.
Had so much fun printing this pattern for the festive collection. Printed using custom-cut rubber blocks.
I've kept the patterns geometric, keeping in mind the clean lines that we love at Kara. It obviously keeps the cutting on linoleum simpler, but I also like the textures I'm getting inside the blocks of color. Especially love seeing the natural fabric weave texture through the inks and how the colors of the print and weave interact with each other.
Detail of the print on the ZigZag table cloth, sold out but soon available in black!
I'm so thrilled to say that the first few editions are already sold out and I'm working on some new ones for next week! These lovelies are printed with non-toxic, water based inks that are heat-set for permanence. Here are some more pix of the making and product-shoot.
Some sunny bright stripes on the hair-wraps.

New Weaves!

Candy colored new stripe patterned bath towels on a super-soft new weave
As the holiday season approaches I wanted to keep you all posted on a few new things we have been developing at Kara. More specifically, about this incredibly soft new weave in cotton, that we've created. To say it feels like butter would be an understatement; on sale right here!
Check patterned towels in a soft blue
We've re-worked our all-time favorite bath towels with these delightful new candy stripes and check patterns. The first consignment from the weavers is in and looking sweet.
Candy colored table napkin sets, 15"x15"
The check pattern in black
We've also been experimenting with block-printing, as I've been mentioning on Twitter. Recently I made some prints on the new fabric and its such a delight to work with! Below are some pictures of the new block-prints on this fabric in our Tria pattern, which work really well as table-cloths.
We are still offering free shipping, so happy shopping!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Building our Network a.k.a. Ramesh Menon

In the early days of our brainstorming sessions in Delhi (before we started the online store) we were very keen to work with larger corporate clients for wholesale orders. On one such impulse, we contacted FabIndia: their response was enthusiastic leading to several meetings to discuss possible collaborations. 

Through these meetings was when we realized how unfeasible it was, to take on a mammoth corporation from our perspective. Their needs to sustain and grow as a company were different from our goals (to progress by developing the weaving industry). Considering their large overheads of maintaining several stores all over India, the price-per-item they needed would not have made it worth the while for our specific social objectives. I'm not saying FabIndia was at fault for not understanding us, just that we were both coming from different places and had different goals as organizations. We're still a bit sad that this collaboration could not work out :(

The next direction we looked towards was that of the hospitality industry, notably some big players in the game, who had the impact to create awareness and support for our work in India. Again, the common roadblock we encountered was the wholesale price of each item being not in sync with the operational budgets of the organization. Simply put, our products were too expensive for them and they all sent back notes of regret and dismissal.

Enter Ramesh Menon, stage left.
Ramesh Menon, co-owner of Dal Roti in Fort Kochi

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Growing Up & Scaling Down

Gold-trimmed shirt made of the sheer kasavu cotton fabric; a trial product we created back in 2005.
When we started Kara Weaves back in 2006-2007, we wanted it all. And like any new found passion, we went a bit overboard with having a vast product range that included not just the towels and robes (that you now see on our website), but also cushion covers, curtains, bedspreads, pillow occurs, duvet covers, bags, skirts, shirts, wraparounds, table cloths, tea cozies, table napkins with several colors and patterns for each. At the time we thought the best way to plan the inventory was to let our shoppers decide what products worked and what did not. Did that strategy work for us?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A north-south collaboration: Khamir + Kara Weaves

Design of our invite for the show together with Khamir
In 2008, a year after our collaboration with the Banyan, we got in touch with Khamir, a non-government organization from the northern state of Gujarat. Through a chance re-connection with some of her earlier collaborators while in Ahmedabad (the wonderful Sushma Iyengar), Indu heard of the wonderful work of the Khamir resouce center as a way to revitalize Kachchh's creative industries. She contacted the director Meera Goradia and learnt that they was seeking to do a sale & exhibition of their work in Bangalore with a collaborator. Upon hearing what we do, Meera asked if we would be interested: and of course we said yes!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Banyan + meeting the President of India

left-right: Revathy, Sreedevi, Vandana of the Banyan, Surya and Indu
We love to meet people who share our world views and what we love even more is the opportunity to get to work with them. In this post I wanted to briefly cover an endearing collaboration we did in 2007 with the Banyan via our co-founder Revathy. At the opening ceremony, we also got to meet the (ex-)President of the nation, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam! From collaborations to meeting inspiring leaders: how did this all come about?

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