I just completed mentoring a 3 month internship at Pratibha. Pratibha welcomed 5 students form the National Institute of Technology Dehli, Mumbai, and Kolkata. Each student completed their graduate project working under my brand LOOP. Below are the first photos taken of one of their collections created by Rashmi Bhagat. Her concept was to design children’s garments proportionate to the small size of textile waste generated at Pratibha. She worked with local artisans to create beautifully crafted pieces. I wish some of them came in my size.haha!

Things are really starting take off with women empowerment. I’ve been visiting every weekend for the past month now and the women are starting to produce some really beautiful work.
We’ve completed our first project. I designed some scarves to make so that I could gage the consistency in their work and skill level and handed them out. Its been three weeks and its apparent that the women are incredibly skilled creatign work that blows my pieces out of the water and after spending some time refining the consistency between each women I am confident we now have a group of very talented young women that are eager to create beautifully crafted products.
Saturday has now become my saviour. It’s the only day during the week were I get to escape my factory home and visit a beautiful town and sit in a beautiful upstairs room with nothing but women and children and create and imagine. Hannah pointed out to me today that a number of the younger women have begun wearing jeans and t-shirts on the days that I visit as opposed to their saris or traditional dress. It’s in these small unspoken gestures that I’m touched by the sincerity of the women and a beckoning to return begins to grow in me. Saturday never comes soon enough.
A quick note, the hindi is starting to come along as well. I’m actually putting together full sentences and understanding conversations. Thats more than what I can even say for my english! hah!

all I can say “FINALLY.” I’ve been trying to arrange a Women Empowerment workshop for months and I must admit, I am most to blame for the delay. Between mentoring 5 design students, designing all company output media/ branding, overseeing 9 summer/spring LOOP collections, and basically the only person with very basic graphic design schools in what seems to be a 50 mile radius, needless to say, I’ve been swamped and chained to my computer. But enough is enough, I put my foot down, arranged a car, designed and printed 10 scarves and took off by myself to Meheshawar last friday and taught my first workshop on reverse applique. The women were thrilled and Hannah Warren of Jhoole, the NGO representing and organizing the women in Meheshwar, was much relieved as you might guess after so long of breaking my promises.
If any of you are keeping track of my posts, you may already know that I won an award in London for an ensemble created from post production textile waste. Well, we are now expanding that ensemble into a collection built by the women and made from post production waste donated by the company I work for, Pratibha Syntex. I believe it proves that many of the roles in fashion whether it be fashion designer, manufacture, or craftsman, that have in the past worked in a fractured system, can now work together on a very intimate and collaborative platform to produce products that are innately recognizable and at the same time deal with very real issues such as women empowerment and industrial textile waste.
More and more I realize that the opportunities I have found here in India I could never even dreamed of having back home and although I am spread so thin between so many projects and in constant fear that I am compromising the quality of my work, I am confident that regardless of the result, I have in what is to be a year now  in India become a much stronger and much more dynamic designer…if not just person. Today I miss my friends and family terribly and hope they understand that I’ve not sacrificed them for my career but rather everything I do is for them.

This month marks my year anniversary in India. I arrived March 26th of 09. It seems there is no end in sight either. Meaning I will always be connected to india.  I’ve begun to burrow and my roots have begun to spread, reaching deeper into many new projects.

Every year the company I work for , Pratibha Syntex, organizes a trip to a village to  commemorate a new school funded by the company. The initiative is called ‘Friends of Tribal society”. It’s a grand occasion and the entire village welcomes the company and we usually sit down under a tree and watch a class being given to the local children. Afterwards, we speak to the families and visit their homes and they describe their lives to us. I have little to no input in the occasion. I am more so just a participant or an observer, but nevertheless I enjoy it very much. And in the end it offered some very sweet and innocent moments.  On every occasion Pratibha’s doctor comes out to asses the health of the children and to administer vaccinations but on this occasion the minute the local children new there were shots to be given they took flight, feet barely even touching the ground across the open cotton field they ran, all 40 so of them. The parents followed in pursuit screaming and chasing down what few they could.  Everyone instantly began to laugh

Finally at the end of the day many of the families asked to take pictures with me and happily I obliged. They all took out their cellphones and lined up to stand next to me and my friends from the company.

Monday was HOLI. I don’t think any American holiday can compare to holi. I had a ridiculous amount of fun smearing and being smeared with intensely rich colors of pinks, greens, blues and yellows. Seeing everyone around you completely consumed with vibrating colors was almost intoxicating and the spirit was wild, almost ruthless, but always followed with a gesture of respect and kindness. Everyone began the morning wearing white and ended it looking like characters from the most far out psychedelic music video. Bands of drummers visited your house at 8 in the morning and exploded you wide awake. The kids chased you with water guns and I chased them with buckets of water. The women visited in teams bearing generous hugs and generous slaps of color.
I’ve decided that for next year I will have a white tailored suit made just for the occasion.

This was a photo taken by Sean Micheal of an ensemble I created from post production textile waste. It’s made from rejected t-shirt panels. The photo was shot for the Fashioning the Future competition.

Last night the girls and I spent 45 minutes looking for butter. We hit up 3 small towns and hollered at every road side stall ‘”I butter want, okay!!!”
And by holler I mean to say that I’ve become the local court jester with my attempt at learning hindi. I’ve realized that any effort to maintain a shred of my dignity while learning hindi is completely futile. I figure I might as well take the low low road about it and scream unabashedly at the top of my lungs “I you like, okay!… We let be friends, okay….Spoon, left, right, Shiva Ji wife!!!!!!!!”

The girls have become very proud with all that I have learned and do well to let everyone know how well I’ve progressed. Yesterday during tea time with the company director and his wife, the girls begged me to recite all my weeks worth of vocabulary. So unabashedly, I did. “Spoon! Bowl! Banana, Guava, I food eating! Food good taste, bad taste, okay! bad, good, verrry, hot, it be raining! little, little , stop! done…okay! I’ve even gone as far as to scream out every word that I recgonize in a conversation. “Women!”…..”Up!”……”DOWN!” “Good!” okay!”
oh dear, me. this is surely not the best way to learn hindi… but I gotta start somewhere.

Hi guys I won an award at the Fashioning the Future Competition!!! Yay. you can check out a video of the finalists work (including mine!) here…. just scroll down the page.
http://www.sustainable-fashion.com/?page_id=211