Being socially beneficial and environmentally responsible is central to everything that we do – can we benefit our artisans directly / indirectly through our work and how does our production process impact the environment?
A shawl or plaid that we make doesn’t exist in isolation. They have passed through many hands during their creation process. And these are the very hands that stand to gain most from their creation.
Today, Forest Oak Silk production gives employment to nearly 1000 villagers in Garhwal. It has helped women weavers earn an extra income and help support their families. There are many women who reel the yarn from their homes – a job they do alongside tending to their cattle, dropping their children to school and household chores.
For our jacquard accessories we collaborate with artisans in North East India. These artisans, who work with Eri Silk, are part of an enterprise that benefits almost 30,000 villagers in the area.
An entire village of artisans is responsible for our Ikat silk and cotton production in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. With handlooms in their homes, the family as a whole takes care of the production process from start to finish – from dyeing and reeling the yarn to spinning and weaving.
Our collaboration with Dutch designer Jolijn Fiddelaers has resulted in hand-embroidered accessories, created by a community of 250 tribal Lambani women from the south Indian state of Karnataka. We have given them new ideas and also helped them refresh their skills.
I am Pushpa Devi
For the last 8 years I have been weaving. I am 28-years-old and live with my son. I would like to pass my skills on to him. I like to weave shawls and sarees and typically, I take 1.5 days to make a shawl. My dedication towards my work helps me keep my skills updated. My friends are encouraged by my success and they too want to become weavers.
In my free time, I enjoy stitching and farming my land. If I wasn’t a weaver, I would probably earn some money by knitting sweaters and doing embroidery work.’’
Forest conservationists around the globe associate the Garhwal Himalayas with Chipko Movement – a movement that followed Mahatma Gandhi’s methods of non-violence. In the 1970s, a group of peasant women in the Chamoli village of Garhwal hugged trees to prevent them from being felled. With a growing awareness about deforestation, this movement inspired environmentally conscious people at the grassroots level across India.
Now, decades later, Pashm works with artisans in the same region for its flagship fibre- Forest Oak Silk. In 1996, hundreds of oak tree saplings were planted in the Garhwal Himalayas to encourage villagers to rely on their eco-system for a steady income. Silk production through oak sericulture incentivised villagers to care for their environment. Today, thousands of oak trees thrive in the high altitude forests of the Himalayas thanks to this initiative by the locals.
We aim to be responsible
whether it’s in the use of solar panels to dry the dyed yarn or installing a drainage system for the proper disposal of the waste water generated during the dyeing process. Our customers also have the choice of using vegetable dyes, instead of AZO-free chemical dyes.
Nature plays a key role in our way of working. Our Himalayan (Harsil) wool is procured from sheep that graze in the most natural surroundings – the Garhwal Himalayas. The natural plant fibres (such as nettle and hemp) that we work with have been growing in abundance for years in the Himalayas, and have been traditionally used by villagers to create household products such as ropes, etc. However, artisans are now being trained in ways to give modern uses to these locally available fibres.
The reeling, spinning and weaving process uses no machines, minimizing our carbon footprints. And with everything being made by hand, we are confident that we are in sync with our environment.