If you thought Sabyasachi Mukherjee alone was responsible for the revival of India’s handloom and textile tradition, you are sadly mistaken. Though Sabya (as he is popularly known) is highly regarded for lending a magical touch to sarees and lehengas, there are many others who are trying equally hard to bring handlooms back in vogue using small but impactful measures.
Meet founder and promoter of the brand ‘Zameeni’ Manisha Jhamb. Handloom and textile revival is the latest buzzword in Indian fashion and prominent designers like Wendell Rodricks, Tarun Tahiliani and Abu-Sandeep have lent their stylish touch to this cause. With ‘Zameeni’, Jhamb too has joined the gang.
While fashion is all about looking towards the future and having a global approach, it’s equally important to stay in touch with one’s roots. With this aim in mind, Kharghar resident Jhamb launched ‘Zameeni’ on August 14, 2014.
After completing her Masters in Business Administration (MBA) with specialization in marketing from Lucknow University, she joined the corporate world. However, she felt disconnected and decided to do what she enjoys the most – travel and connect to the roots of India.
“Initially, I bought hand-woven dresses and sarees for myself whenever I would travel to different states. Later, I started gifting handloom products to guests and family. Their reactions were worth seeing. People were in awe! Soon I started receiving orders. That is what inspired me to start ‘Zameeni’,” she said while thanking her family for their unending support.
She attributes her love for travel and quest to revive Indian crafts to her parents, who made it a point to show her the ‘real’ India. As she grew, she realized the talented artists lacked exposure and a platform to showcase their talent. She feared the entry of power looms spelled doom for India’s rich weaves and fabrics.
Manisha wasted no time in connecting to the talented weavers. “These weavers hail from humble background and have no formal training and yet these talent houses create such magnificent products. Definitely, they deserve much better,” she thought.
Within a short span of time, ‘Zameeni’ has built a name for itself. Sarees, dress materials, stoles and dupattas in rich fabrics like Tussar, Geecha, Linen, Cottons, Ikkat, Kalamkari, Maheshwari etc. adorn the shelves at its studios. After opening two exclusive studios in Noida and Navi Mumbai, Zameeni is all set to start operations in Australia. Zameeni also offers German-silver jewellery which compliment their handloom designs.
The word ‘Zameeni’ originates from Urdu word ‘zameen’ or Mother Earth, she explained. Their aim is to ensure a fair trade with the weavers. The underlying objective is to promote integrity, transparency and sincerity in this industry. “We hope to bridge the gap between fading Indian arts and craftsmen with markets and appreciative consumers,” she stressed.
Jhamb believes the only way to beat competition is self-improvisation. She strongly supports Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative. “I want to focus on the wrap and weft of Indian tradition. With our exquisite and stylish product range, we wish to reach out to those who truly appreciate art,” she remarked.
She truly believes that Indian women are highly talented and entrepreneurial. Her group ‘Mumbai Circle of Mom’ has more than 200 members.
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Pics By Farooq Sayed