A graduate in Textile Design from the prestigious National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, has been working with artisans from across the country since 1991. After her graduation she did a small stint with Anokhi in Jaipur, but wanted to work with more crafts besides block printing, so then she worked with Fabindia for 15 years collaborating with handloom weavers, block printers, embroiderers, Dhurrie weavers, Jutthie makers and many more. She engaged with the artisan and their craft and created designs in their own language to help them open up new markets, from 2007 to date she has worked on projects with IL&FS (Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services), Earthy Goods, Jindal CSR programme and AIACA (All India Artisans and Handicraft Association). She has done training programmes and design interventions for many artisan groups to help in capacity building and opening new markets.
Ms Roopa Mehta
Roopa Mehta is the CEO of Sasha Association for Craft Producers (“Sasha”) and the Secretary of Sarba Shanti Ayog (SSA) its associate development organization. Sasha/SSA provides business support inputs and market access for sustainable livelihoods to artisan groups based largely in rural communities and semi urban areas. She is on the Board of Sadhna, the handicrafts and income augmentation programme of Seva Mandir, Udaipur and the Managing Trustee of Ruro Agro Services Association, a registered trust which develops natural agro based products, trains producers and identify suitable markets. She is also on the Board of COMMACT International and World Fair Trade Organisation(WFTO). Roopa Mehta is a MBA from Delhi University with further professional qualifications in Social Communication. In the earlier part of her professional career, Mrs. Mehta worked in hospitality and merchandising sector and she was the Chief Executive Officer of a renowned textiles manufacturing & retailing company before joining Sasha.
Rema Kumar, textile designer based in Delhi, has been working with a large cross-section of weavers and master craftsmen along the length and breadth of India for almost two decades.
Her focus has always been integrating tradition with novelty, infusing new life into age-old techniques by way of vibrant colours and designs and constantly encouraging weavers to think out of the box to create something different. Though her passion lies in designing saris, and trying to keep the interest in the six yards alive among our Indian women, her collection also includes stoles, dupattas and home accents in the form of dhurries and floor-cushions. She also designs fusion ethnic wear created out of the fabrics specially detailed with ethnic indigenous Indian surface detailing methods like Batik, Kalamkari, Handblocks, Kantha and so on. She has also been working as freelance design consultant and has been involved in various weavers’ workshops for organisations like Dastkar and SEWA.
Mukesh works as the Business development Leader of Traidcraft India. He is a social sector specialist with 15 plus years of experience in managing and coordinating social and economic development programs across India. He is passionate about producers collective and works towards its governance and business sustainability through designing contextualized need based interventions.
His passion towards producer’s collective led him to explore and initiate sTepUp – a not for profit initiative to build capacities of market based community collectives. Prior to this, he has worked on community development projects with grass root institutions, eminent Indian grant making institutions and an international NGO. With expertise in programme management and building successful partnerships, he has significant experience in the areas of livelihood, enterprise development, institutional governance, youth development and social research.
A graduate from XISS, he further studied non-profit management from Lee Kwan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore. Mukesh is also part of the South Asia programme of Traidcraft to build capacities of producer Institutions involved in Fair Trade in India and Bangladesh.
Weaver entrepreneur, Ramnagar,Varanasi
Nizamuddin Ansari is a resident of Ramnagar and the head of his family. He learned weaving from his ancestors. He was involved in this occupation since 1986. Due to recession and poor business conditions in weaving sector, he left weaving in 2003-04 for four to five years and was involved in embroidery work. In 2009, he started weaving again and began to get better results and output of his effort.
Santosh Kumar Maurya
Weaver entrepreneur, Bajardiha, Varanasi
Santosh Kumar Maurya, s/o Manik Lal Maurya from Bajardiha, Varanasi is a master weaver. His grandfather and father received national award in 1985 and 1988 respectively for their weaving skills and design intricacies. He learnt weaving from his father and grandfather since his childhood after coming from the school. He took over his family business in 1993 as full time work. He has high design and market sense. He has been a regular, active and vocal member of Varanasi Weavers and Artisans Society (VWAS). He said, “VWAS provided a platform to me to see the new horizon of the development. I learnt a lot about design and market from the training which I received from the society. I want more weavers to get benefit with their association in the society.”
Weaver entrepreneur, Kotwa,Varanasi
Durga Prasad, 55 years old seasoned master weaver is the resident of village Ayodhyapur, Kotwa. He went to junior high school for his early education. He could not able to pursue higher education due to non-favourable economic condition in the family. He started weaving since his early child hood as a wage earner. In 1995, he started his own work with his design and established good network in domestic market gradually. Currently, he is the owner 15 handlooms also provide job work to 7 weavers regularly. He associated with VWAS in November, 2017 and actively participated in all the major activities. He said, “After becoming VWAS member, I participated in the various training and capacity building program which makes able me to understand the value chain and business at various platform.”
Weaver entrepreneur, Bajardiha, Varanasi
35 years old Salim Akhtar is the resident of Bajardiha, Varanasi and studied up to 10th standard. Weaving has been his ancestral work and he started learning it when he was 10 years old. Salim being the eldest son in the family took over the responsibility of growing business and taking the same to the next level up. He takes care market/buyer linkage in the business while his brothers coordinate production and orders. He started with 5 handlooms and took those to 25 currently. He gives employment to 10 weavers and has a desire to enhance this number. He associated with VWAS in 2017 and has been an active member. He said, “VWAS enhanced my potential and thoughts for growing up my business. Designing and marketing training helped me to polish my existing skills.”
Mr. Jamal Kidwai
Jamal Kidwai is founder of Baragaon Weaves, a social enterprise of handloom weavers.
Jamal Kidwai is also the Director of AMAN Trust since 2005, before which he worked as the Programme Manager at AMAN Trust. He has earlier worked with OXFAM Great Britain and Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi, India.
His contribution in the field of social welfare and development is noticeable.
Weaver Entrepreneur, Ramnagar Varanasi
Islam Ansari (State Award- 2017)- Silk Saree
Father Kamaluddin- National Award- 2014 and Sant Kabir Award- 2016
I learned weaving work along with studies and I learned many new techniques from my father.
I was associated with VWAS from the beginning and learned many things like- Marketing, Designing, and Exhibition etc.
“Weaving is our ancestral work and I have always been learning with my father all the intricate techniques of weaving. At the moment all the techniques are being worked on such as – Kaduwa, Fekuwa, Pauri, Satin etc after completed my studies, I completely involve to this weaving.
I have been working with VWAS since 2015. When I joined VWAS, I did not have any loom but today I have 8 looms of my own. I learned a lot from VWAS within the handloom itself.
In which the right casting, product, place and channel of the right market etc. I will definitely serve and contribute by joining further.
Graph Designer, Rajapura, Varanasi
Anisur Rahman belongs to a weaver’s family from Rajapura, Varanasi. At present, his entire family members have involved in the same profession. He has more than 25 years experience of weaving. He has 10 years of experience as a professional grapher who brings the designs on the graph. He has been associated with VWAS from 2016, though became a member in the year 2018. He works as a grapher for the production related work through VWAS.
He has experiences of retail market at local and national level through exhibitions and store events. Over the time, he built his skills and focused on online markets. He mentioned that his products are sole online through -Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
“Weaving is our ancestral work and I have always been learning with my father all the intricate techniques of weaving. At the moment all the techniques are being worked on such as – Kaduwa, Fekuwa, Pauri, Satin etc.
I used to make my own products from the beginning and sales to Gaddidars and Mahajan initially. However, now I work on orders in which my father is fully supportive. I am always keen to learn new designs and techniques.
When I joined VWAS in 2015-16, we had 3 looms but after learning a lot from VWAS today we have 10 looms and are working with 12 weavers.”