Kolkata girl teaches ropes of fashion designing to woman artisans of Kutch, to launch in Bengal soon
What the designer discovered was an abundance of talented women artisans with extraordinary skills but exploited, engaged to be married (on attaining marriageable age) within days or months of being born and with zero to nominal education.
Bhattacharya decided to stay put and arrange for round-the-year employment by upgrading their skills and also by providing them with basic literacy. Exposing them to the world outside Bhuj through exhibitions and fairs was also part of her agenda.
“The artisans had never ventured into hand embroidery on silk saris. The same is now being applied on gowns. Design wise, depicting India’s history and culture whether be it the grandeur of a Mughal wedding or the eternal love of Radha Krishna is something that I have tried to imbibe the artisans of Bhuj with. The colour combination of the fabric and design was also part of their syllabus,” Kuheli Bhattacharya said.
When the artisans learnt how to create unique hand embroidered garments including gowns, Bhattacharya started marketing their products and channelizing notional profits from sale of garments.
She also initiated welfare schemes for the gifted women of Kutch and their children and also decided to enhance her artisan base over a period of time. The villages where Bhattacharya works are Padhar, Lakhpat, Dhori, Dhaneti, Jhikri, Bhujodi, Bhachau, and Sumrasar.
By providing academic support to the underprivileged children with focus on the girl child, Bhattacharya also moved towards creating an inclusive future for the children of Kutch. Currently, at least 50 odd artisans from villages across Kutch are being provided with gainful employment as well as 290 children are being provided with academic support, free of cost.
Bhattacharya plans to ultimately provide the hapless children with modern class rooms which are internet enabled and armed with proper teaching aids. This facility is currently under construction and will be ready by October this year.
Initially this project was limited to Gujarat but it plans to expand its base in West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
By 2017 Bhattacharya is planning to launch a store in Kolkata, where she plans to retail garments made in Kutch first from a multi-brand store. The designer will get her artisans to work on Bengal weaves like tussar, motka, silk at first and then bring Bengal stitches like Kantha into play.