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Roopika had a thriving legal career after finishing her masters from University of London. She had been practising for 4-5 years and one day, she decided to give it all up. Why? For preserving the true heritage of our country- Khadi.
Her “love affair”, as she calls it, with khadi began when she was researching about a report that she was preparing. She was looking at the Khadi and Village Industries and on going in depth, she saw the legacy of the fabric and how modern India was missing out on one of the most versatile fabrics known to us.
Thus began the journey of I Wear Khadi, aptly starting operations on October 2nd, the birthday of the great man who brought about a revolution through khadi, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Following in his footsteps, I Wear Khadi now procures fabric, stitches, finishes and delivers khadi products all over the globe.
One of the main shortfalls Roopika saw during her research was the state of the weavers. “They have so much skill but no way to earn a livelihood out of it” says Roopika. I Wear Khadi works mainly with weavers from Zaidpur village in Barabanki and Hardoi, both in remote Uttar Pradesh, providing them not just the fabric and technology but also raw material.
“Of course there were challenges! Every day has brought something new with it” Roopika highlights that the prime challenge was, and still is, to make the consumer more aware about the benefits of khadi. Khadi is still looked on as a coarse and “uncool” fabric used to make kurtas and jackets that politicians wear or maybe a saree that you may spot someone in. But at I Wear Khadi, their team believes in making khadi “cool” and create designs that are not just get for the weaver economy but also modern and appealing to the consumer. One of the key challenges has been to make the consumer realise the true worth and value of khadi.
Another big challenge had been the administration and logistics of the entire operations. “Many times, the weavers do not even have thread to stitch” Procuring and providing the fabric and raw material, ensuring that the designing happens in time and collecting the finished products from remote Uttar Pradesh is no small task. But the team at I Wear Khadi does it on a daily basis and the efficiency is improving each day. “There is no electricity mostly in the village. So our red and their red doesn’t match!” Roopika says with a smile.
But despite these challenges, the journey so far has been very fulfilling. Working at the grassroots level with weavers and bringing this beautiful fabric to the common people has been a strong driving force for the brand. Every day is a new learning experience and they are growing steadily in terms of marketing insights, more weavers wanting to join in, improving customer base and upliftment of the weaver communities. “We have had a lot of NGOs approach us” remarks Roopika.
So what’s in store for the future? The team of 8 sees a lot to be done yet. They are now aiming to scale up operations and increase the number of weavers they have on board. More awareness about the fabric is a vital component of their operations and it is something they will keep doing. Honestly, when we saw their product line, we were impressed by how khadi had been combined with modern styling. A true “Make in India” venture, I Wear Khadi is a brand we all should be proud of.
To check out their beautiful products, click here