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Darn Good Yarn’s Friend in the Recycled Sari Business – Lallitara

April 4, 2014

A small woman-owned company that sustainably sources gorgeous sari fabrics from India and pays their workers a living wage so they can improve their own lives and their communities.  Sound familiar?  But I’m not talking about us here at Darn Good Yarn, I’m talking about the fantastic ladies over at Lallitara!

Bijal Shah started Lallitara in April of 2013.  I recently got to speak with her about her journey into the reclaimed sari business, how it began, and where she plans to go.

In India there is a very informal community of sari recyclers.  These people go around to the more affluent parts of town and collect saris that are no longer worn.  They would usually then go to re-sell these saris, but the market for these recycled saris in India has been dwindling. However, they would soon find a better market for their wares when Bijal Shah took a year off from her job and went to live in India for a year, working closely with a non-profit group there.

At first, Bijal had trouble really becoming integrated within the community that she lived in while in India.  Then she got the idea of taking a sewing class with some of the local women, aimed at teaching people how to make their own saris.  “I actually knew the basics of how to sew already,” she told me, “But I pretended I didn’t so I could learn as much as possible from the women there.”  As she learned more about sewing and how to use the machines available, she wondered where they obtained the gorgeous fabrics they were using.  “That is when I first found out about sari recycling,” she recalls.  Bijal went to meet with some of the people in the recycling community, and felt bad they got such little compensation for their hard work.  “I bought 30 or 40 saris just to take home with me,” she admits.  At the time, she didn’t yet have a firm idea of what to do with those saris.  Meanwhile,  the ladies in the class knew Bijal would probably not be wearing traditional saris back home in California, so they taught her how to make western-style dresses.  Those dresses got taken home in her suitcase along with all the sari fabric.

Once she returned home, she started wearing the dresses she had made.  The comments suddenly came flooding in.  “Where did you get that?”  “Can I buy one?”  Enough people were asking that she really started to think there could be a market for sari-fabric western clothing.

Bijal soon found that working with the sari-recycling community could be a challenge, but can also be tremendously rewarding.  Timing can be the trickiest part of the equation.  She is working with an informal community that has no desire to be organized, so getting all the saris she needs can be a problem.  It’s also a community where family always comes first, before work considerations.  However, providing families who had fewer and fewer places to sell their fabrics a ready market and repeat business is very fulfilling.  A lot of the women they were first working with couldn’t really believe that people wanted to buy products made from the sari fabrics.  Bijal remembers, “It was really rewarding to go back to them and say, ‘We sold everything!’”  While there haven’t been major changes in the community yet, their confidence is growing now that they have a steady market to sell their goods.  Lallitara also works with non-profits that provide life-coaching for the families involved.

The sari recyclers in India aren’t the only people employed by Lallitara, as all the production of their products happens right here in the US!  All of the piecing and sewing of the garments and accessories is done at Opportunity Threads, a worker-owned company in North Carolina.  It’s a great place!  Read all about them here.  They were very  excited to work with new fabrics and expand their business.

Fabulous 'Rickshaw Tanks' sewn at Opportunity Thread

For two such similar companies, it is somewhat odd that Darn Good Yarn and Lallitara didn’t meet sooner.  Bijal hadn’t heard of Darn Good Yarn until she was doing some social media research on Twitter.  “I looked up “#sari” on Twitter, and Darn Good Yarn came up!  I sent an email and asked if we could talk, as the “#sari” audience was growing,” she says.

Bijal is always torn about which of the saris she receives to keep and make into products, and which ones aren’t quite right for the company.  “I am always the most critical of the saris!” she admits.  She did not yet have a destination for the saris which she had decided not to use.  Nicole took one look at them and said, “Darn Good Yarners will love those!” and a happy partnership was born.  Lallitara is now a no-waste business, and we here at Darn Good Yarn get to offer gorgeous sari fabric with fantastic color and pattern to inspire even more craftiness!  I asked Bijal about the emergence of more businesses with a “mission” like Lallitara and Darn Good Yarn.  She thought it had to be the right combination of having a mission people want to support, but most importantly having a great product.  She mused that, “A customer might buy once because of a ‘mission’, but they don’t become repeat customers unless they really like the product -- it has use and utility for them.”  Lallitara tends to focus more on the product -- but they do include a little note with each shipment informing their customers who they have supported by making their purchase.

Lallitara continues to expand in many ways.  They are trying to expand their social media reach (you can go ahead and check out their Facebook here!) and mailing list of customers.  They are also producing their products in larger quantities, though only releasing a limited number of them at once.  That way, they can refresh the designs and patterns often, and everything on the site can stay new.  Make sure to visit their website here.   They have a select number of boutiques that carry both their accessories and clothing, and find that people are hooked as soon as they feel how soft and sumptuous the fabric is in their products.

Lallitara's wristlets

They have some brand new Rickshaw Tanks on the site now, so be sure to check them out!

Bijal is very happy about the growth they have seen thus far, “For me it is really exciting. Nicole and Maggie have been really awesome about business coaching and encouragement. Nicole is even on a small board of advisers for the company.”  We are so happy to help support such a great business!

I personally am really coveting one of the tote bags they have in a “beta testing” period right now.  Make sure to support Lallitara however you can, as great businesses with a great mission and practices are not always easy to find!

Many thanks to Bijal for telling me all about the sari business, and Happy Crafting!

Marissa :)

Nicole wears bright pink socks!

February 17, 2011

Hidy ho friends!

Indeed, I do wear bright pink socks. You can see them in this video:

But if you’re interested in checking out the brand new fantabulous multi colored recycled sari ribbon called “At the Bahamas” the you need to click right here!

Aren’t the colors just marvelous. And just to restate how I made the scarf in the video, you need one skein of At the Bahamas Recycled Silk Ribbon, CO 6 sts on size 15′s and then just work up in knit! Woo hoo!

xoxo

Nicole

PS click on any of the pictures to see more!

How to modify and wear Recycled Silk Sari Skirts

November 11, 2010

Video is loading please wait!

Get your Recycled Sari Skirt by clicking here.

FREE BALL OR SKEIN OF YARN!

September 16, 2010

Buy any 5 balls or skeins of yarn on the entire site (mix, match and coordinate!) and you’ll get a free ball of yarn. The free ball will be equivalent to the least expensive ball of yarn. If you would like to specify the free ball of yarn you’d like, just message us when you check out! You don’t need to add it to your cart! That’s important because you’ll get charged for it!

When you check out, after you submit your payment info (like credit card info) you will see a link that says “message seller” click that and just write a note to me like “hey Nicole I want my free ball of yarn to be the premium recycled silk yarn”.

Also, for any bulk packages of yarn (the 1kg or 2kg bulk discounts) this offer is excluded because the yarns in the bulk discount are so heavily reduced.

If you have any questions, just let me know! nicole@darngoodyarn.com

Recycled Silk Sari Yarn

Recycled Silk Sari Yarn

Is there anything Lashell can’t do?

August 11, 2010

In my next life I want to come back as a piece of recycled sari ribbon and have Lashell turn me into one of her wonderful creations.

Check out the new clutch and purse that Lashell created out of our recycled sari ribbon. Go check out her Etsy shop: : http://www.etsy.com/shop/designtalentedone !Recycled Silk Sari Ribbon ClutchSari Ribbon Art YarnSari Ribbon Art Yarn

In NC next weekend?

July 31, 2010

Then you need to go and check out one of our fantastic featured artists: Margaret of MizCrochet’s Unique Boutique

She will exhibiting next Friday and Saturday (August 6 and 7) at Mt. Mitchell Crafts Fair in Burnsville, NC. If you have questions you can contact her at margaret@mizcrochet.com

Or you can check out her wonderful website:www.mizcrochet.com

Check out some of her items made with Darn Good Yarn’s yarn!

Belly Dance Hip Belt Made from Landscapes Banana Fiber Yarn

Belly Dance Hip Belt Made from Landscapes Banana Fiber Yarn

Belly Dance Hip Belt Made from Landscapes Banana Fiber Yarn

Belly Dance Hip Belt Made from Landscapes Banana Fiber Yarn

Fantastic Hobo Bag made from our Premium Recycled Silk Sari Yarn

Fantastic Hobo Bag made from our Premium Recycled Silk Sari Yarn

Erin Mapes: Art Teacher by day, indie designer by night!

July 19, 2010

Erin rocks! She is a public school art teacher for her “day job” and designs, explores and creates for her store erinmapes.etsy.com by night.

As Erin so beautifully described herself: I hand-knit scarves, hats, and other items, and upcycle old clothing into bags. I try to live my life in a simple, peaceful, and environmentally conscious way, and my craft reflects that way of life. I call my work “environmentally conscious” because I try to keep the environment in mind when making my work. Sometimes that means using all-natural materials or buying materials from local sellers. Other times it means saving materials from becoming trash by reusing, recycling, or upcycling, whichever you prefer to call it. Like I say on my site, I believe that with a little creativity, you can find a use for almost anything.

I personally find that refreshing and on the cutting edge. It’s motivation to where we should all strive to be on our crafting adventures.

Check out some of the items in her etsy store! Again, here’s that link! erinmapes.etsy.com

Happy New Year!!

January 7, 2010

Ok,  so I know I am a little bit late, but I have been ever so busy.   I wanted to let you all know about my New Years Resolution,  I know, your thinking “good grief, what is she on about now?”

Not really a run of the mill resolution.  I decided I wanted to make my business, The Art of Zen…….Crochet, a lot more hmmmm….Eco friendly?  I know that seems a catch 22 phrase nowadays.  Anyways,  I want to put some serious effort into recycling, upcycling, repurposing!   So here is just the beginning of this.  I used some of the premium Recycled Sari Silk and some recycled T shirt Yarn to make this cap!

Enjoy and Happy New Years Crafting!

To see more Great Ideas and Items I make please visit my Etsy shop @

http://www.etsy.com/shop/chrisssmith22