First Day Impressions
Aug 20 2016
A pair of friends from Seattle have joined Katey for a portion of her trip! Tammy and Randy flew into Delhi very early in the morning, and are still recovering from the 12.5 hour time change.
But, as Katey is a task master, they were up and out in the morning into the city! We took it easy and ran a couple of errands and experienced the full force of Delhi summer while in the rickshaws around town. Randy had informed Katey before they arrived that he would like a couple of shirts made, so their first adventures were through the markets to buy fabric, then to our friends at Sunshine Project for Kuku and his team to work their magic.
The heat, and more precisely the humidity, makes travel a bit more difficult this time of year, particularly if you aren't used to the weather. We took care to stay hydrated, but being outside when it is 95 F with a "real feel" of 114 F, is taxing on energy, thinking, and tempers (but that might just be Katey). This is especially true when sitting in the gridlock of Delhi traffic in a rickshaw. Luckily, we were able to take the metro for a portion of our journey which is not only cooler, but surprisingly clean and affordable.
When asked about their first impressions (a future post will delve more into this topic as they had some interesting observations), they both noted that it was as expected in regards to traffic, the crowds of people, and the aroma. Tammy observed that while India has a particular smell to it, it isn't usually unpleasant, just distintive. She recalled it immediately from her visit 3 years before.
Katey is having techincal difficulties with technology, so photos are forthcoming to accompany this blog...
Planning and Product Development
Aug 19 2016
While the shopping and travel throughout India is still on the horizon, Katey met with Kuku from Sunshine Project, one of our charitable partners, to begin the planning and development of Sankara's expanded exclusive line of products. While we can't give too much away yet, we thought we'd share a bit of what goes into making the items for the shop.
One of the first things we look at what we want to have made, whether a top or a skirt or a cushion. This determines the type of material we need and the amount of the material. Sometimes Katey finds a material she's in love with and then decides what to do with it, but it tends to be easier to decide what is going to be made first.
Once the item, like our tops, have been designed, the quantity and range of sizes is guesstimated. Different styles take different amounts of fabric, and sometimes it is guess work until you have the fabric in front of you as to how many pieces you can get out of the material.
Once Katey is given her target for the material, she goes shopping! She meets with the fabric producers in order to not only see how the material is made, but also to verify the working conditions and the fair wages for the labor in making the material. After meeting the producers, she picks the fabrics she likes which will work with the designs of the item - making sure the designs and color palettes work for not only Seattle, but for the design of the item.
Once the fabric is purchased, it goes back to the tailor! A pattern is made for each item in all the sizes in the range. For our first two tops, we decided to make both styles in small through XXL. The fabric is then cut and stitched. The working conditions and wages are also verified for this stage of the manufacturing process.
After the item is completed, the decision is made regarding emellishments - some of our tops were sent to our chikkan embroiderers in Lucknow for added embroidery, and some were given to our Afghani friend, Salma, for crochet. Again, fair rates for the work were negotiated, and conditions of work verified.
Once the embellishment work is completed, the items are then shipped to the shop for you!
At each step of the process, attention to detail, cost, and quality are of importance, but not as important as the people we work with. Not only are our exclusive products made through ethical trade standards, but as they are stitched by our friends at Sunshine Project, 10% of the proceeds of our exclusive lines are returned to charity.
Aug 18 2016
Katey arrived safely in New Delhi! Her flights were uneventful, and she's settling into her new time zone, with the help of a LOT of coffee. As today is a holiday, she is catching up with some friends, and finalizing details for later in the trip, so not the most interesting picture day!
Today's holiday is Raksha Bandhan, which celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters. Sisters tie string bracelets, often highly decorated, on their brother's wrist to symbolize their love and offer prayers for their well being. In return, the brothers offer gifts and pledges of protection to their sisters. As families become more spread out, the holiday offers a reason for families to come together and celebrate their bonds. While a predominately Hindu festival, in some regions, such as Punjab, the holiday is more secular with fairs and community celebrations. Women also offer the bracelets to men they consider to be like brothers - which can be a devastating blow to many a young man with a crush on the woman offering the bracelet!
New Travel Blog!
Aug 11 2016
Katey is heading out on the next adventure, and in order to make things easier on everyone, we're going to start keeping our trvel blog here on our website. We'll still have all the fun stories and pictures, but it'll be in a new place. Find all the previous posts at our old blog!