Saturday, September 15, 2012

September at the Studio

Photo-updates on our activities in and outside the studio, over the past few weeks:
We were finally all at the same place to get a team snap: (l-r) Chitra, Indu, Sreedevi, Sandhya, Revathy, Annu

This month was also when Indu and I made a quick trip to Singapore and Australia for some work and family visits:
A Koala-bum and us at the lovely Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary near Brisbane :)
The Singapore trip was to meet some family, and we loved the busy and charming city!
After the brief trip, we got back to the studio to resume work for all our lovely buyers:

Bathrobes getting packaged for the Good Earth stores.
Sandhya and Annu waterproofing a shipment for CGH Earth's Swaswara resort in Goa.
Table napkins awaiting packaging, for Terrain in the USA.
Meanwhile, our experiments in new weaves continues, as we broaden our wholesale portfolio:
Corded yarn bunches interwoven with the fine yarn.
Our brand new kitchen towels and napkins in jewel tones.
Combination of thick yarn cords and fine weave for table mats.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Thoughts for this week

What we've learnt about handloom is that the cotton threads at the start are really weak, but when they come together, the fabric is unbelievably strong.

As we celebrate the Pakistani and Indian Independence days this week (August 14 and 15 respectively), we'd like to get inspired by this process. Here's to working together to grow stronger and better :)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Summer 2012 Updates

• Our first ever Free product giveaway (yes, its all free!) contest on Facebook has just started! All you have to do is upload a favorite summer picnic photo to win free fabrics! More details here.

• Indu was interviewed by the Women's Web Magazine, here's the read.

• Unbelievably successful Annual Clearance Sale of our previous collections. It ends on August 15 2012, so you've still got a few days to get the best deals!

• Guest blogging at Yours Sustainably, thanks Jessica!

• Our fabrics are now available at the Good Earth stores in India and Terrain (Anthropologie's sister concern) in the United States.

We worked with Wendell Rodricks to create this custom threaded shawl based on his design. So pumped to see it on the runway at the Lakme India Fashion Week in Mumbai this past week!

• Our Fair Trade certification process made some headway as we were visited by the Fair Trade Forum India's team to verify details of our team and collaborators (including the weaving co-operatives). As we hope to hear back from them, we're keeping our fingers crossed for the green signal :)

• We experimented with some thicker weave techniques, with some lovely results.

• Sarah Lin of Ellie Fun Day visited our studio and wrote up a sweet article on her blog with some nice photos!

•  Lakshmi Rammohan, the director of Dreamweaver Weddings commissioned us to create some custom giveaways and bride+groom sets for some upcoming events for Fall 2012. This is still in underway, but we're so excited to work with this incredibly talented event manager!

Wendell Rodricks and India Fashion Week 2012

Wendell Rodricks (image courtesy
A few months ago we got in touch with the Indian fashion designer Wendell Rodricks after Revathy (our project partner) mentioned our work to him. He had an idea to do a custom weave for his runway show at the Lakme India Fashion Week 2012 in Mumbai that concluded this past week ("Omg, for real?!!"-- was my reaction when Indu told me). To say that we were over-the-moon was quite an understatement, as we've been fans of this talented designer's work for ages!

Based out of Goa, Wendell's works a lot of structure and form into his design, and the hallmark of his creations have always been the way he works with white and off-white to make the garment's cut and construction stand out. In so many ways, his work fit our portfolio of fabrics so effortlessly!

What he wanted was a woven shawl with loose yarn detailing in White, Black and Brown shades. He sent us a detailed drawing and images of how he wanted this piece to work. We set about working with our weavers and here is the finished piece in our studio and on the runway at the LFW2012 (Show images courtesy The Times of India,
Quick grainy shot of the piece in our studio, before we sent it over to Wendell.

The Times of India coverage of the show (images from TOI)
Another image of the runway event at LFW 2012 (via
As this collaboration draws to a close, we're so utterly thrilled to check this item off our dream-wishlist, and are overjoyed about getting the humble Kerala thorthu on the fashion runway! Wendell, we're so thrilled & proud to work with you and look forward to many such opportunities! xoxo, Indu & Chitra.

(ps: If you're a fashion designer and reading this, yes, email us about working together!)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

That time of the year..

We are re-organizing our inventory and making room for the new collections. So, we've decided to give our US-based shoppers a discount on the previous collections with a blowout sale. (International shoppers, we love you too, and are putting up a bigger storewide sale very soon!)
Bath towels, Picnic mats, Wraps or a Table cloth: now at $10 per color!
Things are selling faster than I can share this update, so I'd suggest you make your way over here to see if there's something you like. Happy Summer!
Set of ten table napkins for $30, only till these stocks last!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fresh off the looms

Here's a peek at our new unbleached yarn experiment to make a multipurpose product: at once a tablecloth, beach towel, sarong, summer scarf or a simple bath-towel

This 40 x 70 inch piece will soon be available in our wholesale portfolio, in the five lustrous colors below. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

New York 2012

This past week was a busy time as I traveled to New York city to attend the design week events in town. What I did not expect to do was meet up with so friends from around the world. Here are the highlights, in no specific order of preference:
I attended Rena Tom's amazingly insightful workshop on wholesale tips for small businesses.
The event was held at the lovely Design*Sponge studio in Brooklyn. 
Dropped in for a chat with Doug Johnston and see his detailed works-in-progress at his Brooklyn studio. He and his incredibly talented wife Tomoe are the nicest peeps on the planet! :)
Doug gave me these AMAZING delicate yet sturdy cotton rope baskets: I cant wait to use them!
Caught a quick brunch with (l-r) my cousin Sandhya, my friend Anvita and cousin Leslie.. love these girls!
I had a brief, fun chat with Avery of Juju Papers at the ICFF: loved all her handmade prints!

I did not remember to take a pic, but I also had a nice chat with Sanjay Rajan and Tricia O'Keefe of Slowcolor about the gorgeous textiles they sell and the weaving co-operatives in Andhra Pradesh that they support.
At the Cranbrook + Alessi event. Some amazing work by Cranbrook folks in the foreground.
Also, a man with amazing hair.
"A Reasonable Mirror" by Chris Schank, my classmate from Cranbrook (@Heller Gallery)
This piece spoke volumes about new life in familiar yet discarded materials, I am such a fan! (@Heller Gallery)
Jack Craig's PVC stool made a beautiful use of the material and pliability. (Heller Gallery)
The Bodega Bag, by Aria McManus: love this for how obvious and beautiful this was! (Heller Gallery)
Dropped in at the Wanted Design event with the fun work by French and American students.
So glad my friend Carli Heggen sent me this way from the ICFF!

Caught up with my Elle Kim, fellow 2D from Cranbrook & an amazing designer. (Pic via Instagram)
Kiel Mead at the Core 77 show gives driftwood new life as wall hooks: I love these fun colors and textures!
Seldon Yuan's Center of the Youniverse juxtaposes constellations and well, your face! (at the Core 77 show)
Lindsey Adelman's Piecework is a hand-stitched skeleton of the American flag. This quiet powerful piece was on view at the "Love it or Leave it" show at R'Pure Gallery.
Ran into Rhea Karam on the street, my classmate (and an amazing photographer) in Paris from 10 years ago!
I loved the re-purposing of wood by Piet Hein Eek at Future Perfect's pop-up shop at NoHo.
Looking up at Manhattan.
On the last evening, I sat in a quiet office on the 40th floor of a shiny skyscraper, waiting for my cousin to wind up at work, and took in this view. I don't think I'll ever get used to how tall these buildings are, but most importantly, I'll never get used to how amazing the folks who live + work here are. Lots of love your way, NYC!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Mother's Day, everyday!

Mother's Day is not a traditional festival we celebrate in India (ours is a bit different), but I can't help get caught up on the fever since I'm here in Boston. It is still more than a week away, but I just wanted to share with you what makes our team *extra* awesome: my business partner Indu Menon is also my mother :)

The picture above was taken the very summer we started Kara Weaves: notice how we're sharing earphones for the music? Clearly we were meant to collaborate!

If you met me, it would take you all of two minutes to figure out how much I adore my mother. But objectively speaking, what makes her amazing is how she blends together a razor-sharp focus on our social enterprise with a practical and compassionate outlook towards our team members, shoppers and business partners.

Kara Weaves (in part) wouldn't exist if it wasn't for an awesome mom; love you amma!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Free Shipping ends in a few hours!

We are working on some policy changes regarding our shipping, in effect after 6pm EST today.

These changes come after our very long experimental approach to the best shipping policy for our shoppers and for our social enterprise. As we factor in the new prices of raw materials and the changing rates of shipping, we plan to charge a flat fee based on purchase amounts at our store.

We're hoping this will still keep things simple for our wonderful shoppers as we are keeping the rates uniform to ship anywhere in the world. Do check back here for updates or contact us for more info!

// update @6:30pm EST: Our website is offline while we make our changes. Connect with us via email, Facebook, Twitter or right here, while we work through. Hoping to be back up in a few hours.

// update @11:30pm EST: Looks like the updates will take a bit longer... expect to see our site back on Monday with a slightly modified look! :) Happy weekend folks!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Notes from the IBM visit

From L-R: Lou Martin (IBM Spain), Elke Heilemann (IBM Germany) and Jennifer Williams (IBM United States)
It has been two weeks since our encouraging and motivated collaborators from IBM left. Since their departure, Indu and I have not ceased to pour through their detailed reports and have endless Skype conversations (Indu is in Kerala and I'm here in Boston) about our next steps to grow our project. Here are some images and notes from their trip here (all images and videos, except the Skype screen shots, are taken by the IBM team).
Skype, with the Cotton Ladies (Jennifer,  Lou) and Indu in Kerala with me in Boston.
Even though I could not physically be present there when the IBM team were at our studio in Kerala, we regularly communicated via emails, Skype and telephone. They adorably called themselves the Cotton Ladies and made T-shirts to commemorate, with extra ones for Indu and me!

During the four week long project with IBM, our consultant advisor Rajendra Menon also stayed on to work with Indu for the various documents that were shared with IBM. Pictured below, he was also game to get dressy, for the group shot! :)
The IBM team dons the Kara spirit, literally! (l to r: Elke, Jennifer, Lou, Rajendra, Indu and Sandhya)
One of our biggest on-going concerns with Kara is to capture a sustainable market, so we have more to promise to these talented yet grossly overlooked communities of thorthu-weavers. Our goals to set up a weaving learning center are all hinged on creating a viable business model through Kara. To start, Indu took the team to visit with our local weaving co-operative and meet the weavers who are the nexus of our work at Kara:
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