• Akshya Shree

Silpakarman- Memories from childhood and becoming a craftpreneur.


We were travelling to a remote village around Kanchipuram, can’t recall the exact location as at the age of 13 location is not what’s on your mind. We had skipped lunch and my eyes were scanning the village roadside, as the vehicle moved ahead, for alternative options. We stopped at a rather fancy looking structure and I thought maybe this is a restaurant and was all praises about the person who had thought of opening an eatery in a village. But, when I entered this beautiful looking place, I was disappointed. Disappointed because it was not an eatery it was a handloom workshop that made most beautiful, exquisite kanjeevaram silk sarees. Also, it was my mother’s dedication towards her wardrobe that has brought us to this place, that too, starving so I was 'hangry'. But, the store owner was a gentle and nice man, dressed in all white clothes and he probably sensed my hunger, which was any way evident on my face. He asked his staff, whose name did catch my attention then, but I can’t recall it now, to get us some juice and refreshments. It satiated my hunger and I started to look at the sarees.

I tried to figure out what’s in store for me but the smell and colors of the handloom kept me engaged. I sat beside my mother and kept looking at the sarees that the shopkeeper was showing to her. My mother surely has some taste and it took her very long to finalize the sarees and other things that she wanted to buy. So, we (me and my sisters) ended up spending the entire afternoon at the store. During these hours I got to know that the store has been running for the past 7 generation and still going strong. The family had started their work with just one loom in a tiny set up where now stood this beautiful store and, they now had a separate set up for looms. However, there were 2-3 looms in the store’s workshop which was used to make some of the more expensive and custom-made textiles. We had a chance to look at it. And the process was difficult and handling something so delicate is hard work. My mother's shopping done right and, I bought a little silk pouch for myself we left for Chennai. In the coming years, I happen to come across similar crafts in Banaras, Guwahati, Hand-marbled silk in Puducherry, Mysore silk in Mysuru and various rare craft which went undocumented but, what remained with me was my purchase. What started from the silk pouch went on to silk scarves, dresses, bags, accessories, bed sheets etc. All through my college and otherwise I was always asked about these beautiful looking thing, and all these would have a travel tale attached to it. Since childhood, I was sure of the fact that I would do something of my own. And, that own came in form of Silpakarman. I started Silpakarman to tell these stories to people, of places I have been to and crafts I have seen, the artisans I have met. Silpakarman is not just about crafts it’s about the whole experience that comes with the craft.

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