#Women in Small Business

These Women Entrepreneurs Are Bringing Spotlight to the Wonderful Art of Kalamkari

Kalamkari Clothing Brands
Kalamkari is an ancient form of hand painting done using tamarind pens and natural dyes. Etymologically, kalam means pen and kari means craftsmanship. Although there are debates on the origin of the tradition, the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are considered to be famous for kalamkari art. While it has existed for many years, small Indian women entrepreneurs are bringing it modern twist and lots of instagram-love. 

The traditional art of kalamkari was used in storytelling and painting excerpts from Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagvatam. Today the tradition has got a modern tweak as artisans have started making kalamkari art on clothes, especially sarees. We bring you a handful of brands who are adding new brilliance to this traditional art form and giving us a chance to have it.

  1. House of Tamaara

Sister-in-law duo Madhavi Rongala and Jyothsna Rongala founded House of Tamara to create a one-stop-destination for hand-woven and handcrafted sarees. Before starting the business, the duo recognised a gap in the market for purchasing hand-woven sarees at a reasonable price. The only place one could get them was at exhibitions. So to bridge this gap, the duo began House of Tamara, a store famous for hand-crafted sarees. A family-run retail business, House of Tamara is famous for its blend of traditional art and modern aesthetics. It sells sarees which include Kalamkari sarees, blouses and jewellery.

House of Tamara team works with weavers and craftsmen closely to design sarees as a blend of ancient art, colour and culture. The target of the online brand is the urban modern woman who tries on clothes and personalities without being bound by fashion trends. The brand runs an online store and also has warehouses in Bangalore and Hyderabad.

Check out their business here.

2. The Chalk Boutique

Founded by a team of two passionate women, Kajal and Kavita, The Chalk Boutique is a store for handwoven and hand-crafted sarees. Kajal and Kavita were initially working as Charted Accountants but it was not too late when they realized that not numbers but art and craft attracted their interest. So the duo started the venture to sell hand-woven sarees, each piece being a harmony of art, culture, colour and tradition. The primary aim of starting this venture was to bring the Indian population closer to homegrown art and craft. The venture sells sarees, blouses, dresses and suit set too.

Check out their business here.

3. Label Swarupa Sathakarni

Founded by fashion designer Swarupa Sathakarni, it is one of the well-established fashion brands that sell bridal, ethnic and indo-western clothes including Kalamkari sarees. It also sells customised clothes as per the personality and requirements of the customer.

Through her brand, Sathakarni practices sustainable fashion by not wasting any piece of fabric. “I keep experimenting with tassels on blouses and dupattas, and I sit with my tailors during production and guide them in not wasting fabric. [After the plastic ban] I started making fabric bags,” she says.

After finishing her graduation in Fashion Designing, She worked under a designer for 8-9 months. Later she returned to Chennai and recognised the gap between demand and availability of designer clothes. This pushed her to use her interest in sketching and designing to make and sell designer clothes. Hence her eponymous fashion label came into existence. 

Check out the business here. 

4. Klingaru

Founded by a mom of two boys, Nikita Jain, Klingaru is a kids clothing brand that sells cotton clothes for kids of age 1-6. The brand manufactures its own products dealing with cotton and handloom fabrics. It sells shirts, kurtas, dresses and dhotis. It promotes Indian handcrafts like Ikat and Kalamkari. Klingaru is a brainchild of Nikita Jain who developed a passion and interest in kids clothing through her own experience as a parent. As Jain says, “Klingaru is an extension of things I am passionate about, explored as a parent or is passionate about as an individual” She also adds that she is proud of the fact that through her brand she can support mothers who are raising future leaders. 

Check out their business here.

5. Sundarii Handmade

A mom, wife and entrepreneur, Avni Agarwal went on to conceive Sundarii Handmade to support artisans, save Indian handicrafts from being extinct and propagate minimalist and sustainable fashion. Agarwal is an English Honours graduate who pursued Masters in Social Work to witness the plight and poverty of the artisans closely. She travelled to nooks and corners of Gujarat and Rajasthan to meet the weavers personally and understand their craft and problems. To support and uplift these weavers, Agarwal founded Sundarii Handmade which sells hand-crafted sarees at a reasonable price. Agarwal aims at making Sundarii Handmade a household name for handmade and sustainable fashion. 

Check out their business on YouTube here.

6. Avaranaa

Founded by two sisters Soorya Krishna and Vijayalakshmi Krishna in 2014, Avaranna is an online clothing brand that sells handmade sarees and salwars. The brand sells sarees of different fabrics like muktas, chiffons, georgettes, kangeevaram, kancheepuram, Kalamkari and more. The brand works with a set of weavers to give life to colours, art and crafts of ancient times in the free-flowing sarees. Initially, as Krishna says, the brand aimed to promote handlooms and design unique kanjeevarams. But now, it has expanded into blending kalamkari, chiffon and other fabrics on Kanjeevarams. 

Check out their sarees here.

Kalamkari sarees, small business owners

This is a saree with Kalamkari print by Sundarii Handmade

7. Prashanti Sarees 

Prashanti sarees have a large and vibrant collection of designer Kalamkari sarees. Director Brindha Padmanabhan carefully curates the sarees for the customers without compromising on quality. Prashanti Sarees works with women artisans from rural parts of Eastern India to reflect the art and craft of ancient times on modern wear. Apart from Kalamkari sarees, the brand also sells Kantha works which originate from the eastern part of India. 

Check out the business here. 

8. The Kaftan Company 

After fighting a battle with cancer, Prakruti Gupta researched to find sophisticated, fashionable yet comfortable kaftans. But she could not find many designs and options to choose from. It was to meet this gap and create a one-stop-destination for a more inclusive apparel collection, Gupta conceived The Kaftan Company. The brand sells handmade kaftans of different sizes and for different occasions. The Kaftan Company has a special Kalamkari collection that blends kalamkari art with cotton dresses, kurtas and tops to fit into the modern trends. 

Check out the business here.

9. Farida Gupta

Back in the 90s, Farida Gupta started her journey as a designer with fabric swatches, sketch pad and a vision. She confined herself in her flat in South Delhi with two more embroidery girls. And then in 2011, she finally decided to launch her eponymous clothing brand that sells women’s ethnic and modern wear. Today, Farida Gupta is a full-time mom and a part-time designer. The clothes of her brand reflect the Indian culture of handicraft thereby providing employment to a plethora of artisans across India. Through her brand, Gupta wants to bring Indian culture and handicrafts closer to the modern populace. In 2016, the brand expanded itself on the digital platform under the leadership of Farida Gupta’s son Sahil.

You can check out the business here.

The Power of Digital

Leveraging the power of digital, these women are driving a new India story to the world. Using the internet, YouTube and other avenues, each one of these entrepreneurs have displayed a deep sense of connect with their roots, artisans and Indian handicraft. Using creative freedom, they are making these products more cool in the lexicon of young people, going from small to scale and shaping a new narrative for the rising female entrepreneur in India.

Get all the information on the SheThePeople Digital Women Awards presented by Google by clicking here.


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