Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sometimes we get lost in the nitty-gritty of everyday problems and the long-term objectives seem like a distant dream, impossible to achieve. Is it really possible for a coalition of farmers and village textile producers to make a reasonable living out of a home-grown, local cotton textile industry? But then we think of the staggering difficulties we have overcome on the malkha journey, and the dream seems not so distant after all.

The first incredible step was to eliminate baling from the field-to-fabric process. We did it. It was done by conceptualizing, designing and making the Gramaspinner carder, a poem of a machine, treating the lighter-than-air cotton fibres as gently as they had never been treated since traditional hand-carding was practiced on a substantial scale. It's been done, though it was supposed to be technically impossible. The next hurdle was to make yarn strong enough to be sized and woven. It's easy now to take that for granted, to forget what anxiety that step caused us before it happened, and what elation once it did.

That the cloth coming out of this process would be a beautiful fabric was, in the difficult early days, an act of faith. But when it did come, it was. Now the question is: How shall we, based in Hyderabad, reach the people who want it in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore where we have held successful exhibitions?

And now we must ensure that the producers do actually enjoy a democratic way of functioning, do share the fruits of their labour in a just and equitable way. This is the next, monumental hurdle on the malkha journey.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Well the malkha stall at the Kala Ghoda Festival was a great success, exceeding our target by 10%. KGF is unbeatable for the exposure it provides, because it attracts people from all over the city and suburbs who come for the mela atmosphere and the entertainment. Not only did the malkha stall do well in terms of sales, but we were able to introduce malkha to several hundred people from different market segments, many of whom bought the fabric and have left their e-mail ids to be added to our mailing list.

We had mailed all those on last year's Mumbai mailing list and were delighted to see many familiar faces...the most gratifying thing for us is the number of repeat customers, who had bought malkha last year and came back for more because they enjoyed wearing it. There were a lot of requests for sarees and ready-made garments, and several people told us that tailors were a big problem in Mumbai. Many people asked us if we had an outlet in Mumbai, and its a shame that we're not able to retail malkha regularly here and in the cities where we hold exhibitions. It just does not seem possible, with urban rentals being what they are.

Meanwhile on the production side cotton prices this year have gone through the roof.. we only hope that the farmers are the ones benefiting, not just the middle-men.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Its Kala Ghoda festival time again in Mumbai, and Malkha will be there for the first 5 days [February 5-9] in the area organized by Concern India Foundation, on the Lion Gate side.