Welcome to the world of exquisitely hand woven cloth taken from various ethno cultural weaving traditions of Northeast India.The cloth is a blend of traditional infused with modern sensibilities and unique designs.That’s Anannya Sharma and her stunning collections at Yarn Glory.Anannya Sharma is a textile designer from Assam,India. In her journey of twenty-five years as a textile designer she has worked in design studios, freelanced for exporters and textile manufacturers, taught in the Indian Institute of Handloom Technology(IIHT) and now, has found her calling and fulfillment working with the weavers in this region of the country.
Anannya’s work encompasses engaging with the different ethnic cultural communities to preserve their rich heritage of artistic handloom weaving. Her model of “social business” involves capacity building of women weavers to generate livelihood by imparting improved weaving skills, adopting modified designs and colour schemes and creating a range of diversified products which are at once market friendly and remunerative.
Anannya has several livelihood clusters in different villages consisting of tribal and non-tribal weavers who weave the products on silk and cotton. Her products from silk have the unique property of being completely eco-friendly. The silk, called ‘ERI’ is drawn without killing the silkworm and the dyes used are extracted from different herbs, fruits, flowers, bark of trees and vegetables. Anannya’s products on display, are items of garments and household furnishing woven in silk and cotton by indigent weavers of this north-eastern region of India.
Her Entrepreneurial Journey
She adds “My journey into textile designing began in the eighties when I decided to go to Bombay to pursue a course in this subject. Textile designing is an intricate art. To learn how to manipulate fabrics and play with textures broadens the scope what can be done. To me, fabrics are an interplay of creativity and practicality,” says the designer. She works with designs and motifs to creative a range of handspun specials from homeware like table runners and cushion covers to wardrobe staples like stoles. “Embarking on a career in designing is an actualization of my interest in colors and patterns. While fabricating a collection, nature and its varied seasons remains the core inspiration from which our designs emerge. Through a process of careful derivation of our dyes, our weavers go on to develop yardages of fabric that are then used for product evolution.” Her designs are often influenced by the local tribal traditions, especially those of the Boro,Rabha, Garo, Karbi and Mising. Anannya Sharma works to modernize the traditional motif alive by making certain changes that will increase the appeal among a wider group of people. Anannya, who started her career with a designing studio in Mumbai in the year 1988, has come a long way since then. Today, she is empanelled as a designer under the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, and gives training in skill development and product diversification to the weavers. Presently, she is working under the Government of Meghalaya in a cluster near Garo Hills. She has also worked under various Government agencies like SIRD, NEDFi, KVIC, etc., on various projects in places like Gohpur and Sivasagar and in NE States like Sikkim, Nongpoh (Meghalaya) and Arunachal Pradesh.
The versatile designer states, “I get a fee from the Government of India to impart training to the weavers. Women form the mainstay of Assam’s (and also Northeast) weaving industry. In many cases, I spend money on my own and train the women.” Yarn Glory’s business model involves capacity building of indigent women weavers to generate livelihood by imparting improved methods of weaving skills, adopting modified designs, unique colour schemes and creating a range of diversified products which are urban market-friendly. In the process, she seeks to promote women’s empowerment and financial independence for the weavers.Her significant achievement is to introduce household furnishings in handloom like place rugs, runners, table mats, tea cosies and durries and these works of hers have strong influences of traditional or ethnic art imprinted on them.
Anannya further shares, “Since the commercial value of these products are more, the weavers get benefited. In my initial years, I realised that wherever there are young girls in the cluster villages, they are more open to the idea of accepting new concepts because of the diversified products.” But, she laments, “In today’s gadget-driven age, even young boys and girls in the villages find more meaning fiddling with their mobile phones rather than doing something more productive like weaving.”
However, she also makes it clear that fair trade and fair wage is the only “mantra” for the healthy growth of the weavers. “Weavers should not be exploited. Our motto should be – nobody is under anybody. This will lead to better output. Only then will they get encouraged to take in new ideas and new concepts and this will lead to the economic well-being of the weaving community. Skill development leads to higher productivity, enhanced income and sustainable employment.”
Anannya is presently hand-holding women weavers in the villages around Guwahati on looms, fabric and designs. She buys the crafts from the weavers and displays it on her Yarn Glory Studio,opposite TV Center near AIDC Guwahati. The mother-of-two wraps up by saying, “Mentoring is the key for the growth of the handloom sector.”
Yarn Glory’s Products
Runners and Table Mats
Durries and Cushion Covers
Ready Made Garmets and Apparels
Stoles and Shawls (Eri/Cotton)
Sareees and Mekhala Chadors