Lakme Fashion Week has launched a campaign- All About India- to showcase stories that portray resilience and the desire to innovate to combat tough times. In this phase of the campaign, they will highlight artisans and their work towards making self-protective masks for the masses. The aim is to highlight how they form the backbone of the industry by using their skills for developing products they may have never imagined. DEF has collaborated with them and highlighted a story of a weaver from Nuapatna, Odisha.
Bijaya Nayak comes from a traditional weavers’ family and associated with DEF’s Digikala project. Due to the Covid-19 situation they have shifted from making ikat silk sarees to masks. These masks are made of Handloom cotton fabric and are supplied to the local community members, medical stores and few government officials. Also DEF helps in promoting the products through digital marketing.
“I used to be involved in embroidery and tailoring. I am a traditional weaver with a family of five, all of whom are involved in weaving. I also learned advanced tailoring under DEF’s Digikala project and had just bought a machine few months ago. However, the Covid-19 induced lockdown was a setback to work. Now, by making masks as an alternate livelihood option, we are able to sustain somehow,” said Nayak.
He usually works from home but sometimes visits the Digikala center for materials, order dispatches and storage. When the lockdown came into effect, all the looms went silent in the area. There were few with raw materials who were working but eventually they also stopped. Since the master weaver was not able to procure the raw material, he was unable to pass any orders to them. The order which were ready also could not be delivered because of restrictions on movement. So there was no income. With the option of making masks, he is now able to earn enough to at least manage day-to-day needs for food and essential items.
He appealed to the fashion and textile industry saying, “Given the current situation, I feel that any help from the fashion world will go a long way. We do not want free food or money as that will be short term. We want to work and earn. A solution could be to place orders with a little advance to help us kickstart the loom.”
The handloom industry which is part of our heritage is depleting. Please help promote handloom and handmade products.