After a twenty hour journey, I finally arrived to Udayan, 40 km outside of Jaipur, at 5:00am and slept for a few hours before meeting Jaimala, director of Anoothi/Vatsalya, Anchal’s partner in Ajmer. She greeted me with a big smile and warm hug. We had breakfast and discussed the line of new Anchal products, specifically the materials needed for jump starting our scarves and pouches.
She introduced me to the tailor, Dumgar-Das, his wife, Gita, and the translator, Vandana, to go over the design requirements for each new product.
We set off to Anoothi’s main facilities to cook up some prototypes. Gita grabbed bags packed with recently washed saris and spilled them out on the floors. Strips of bright colors tangled in piles, and we started sifting for good combinations. We laid out the family colors and considered different matches. We started developing a prototype for each type of scarf, straight and circle.
I was amazed at D’s precision, strive for perfection, and passion for tailoring. He poured himself into every task, considered every option, and gestured questions wildly at Vandana. He would often nod to ask me if he was on the right track with his process, asking “Tikke” (Hindi for “ok”). Gita hovered close and nodded, pointing out any stains, snags, holes in the materials. Vandana, a PhD in psychology, clarified any questions or concerns between D and I. It was an awesome team effort.
By the end of the day, we had a sample of a straight and circled scarf we were pleased with. Dji also completed the cutting of the panels for small and large pouches.
Tomorrow, we will workshop with the women in Ajmer and further develop the early prototypes. I have a feeling they will be excited about the new products, and ways to play with their creativity.