Why did we leave our comfortable jobs? Why did we take the risk of starting a business? Why did we give up everyday comforts to start something from scratch, from nothing? Why did we choose the road less traveled?
Simple. We did it for the love of the loom.
For a moment, take a trip with me. It is a hot and humid day in a small village 50 km from the Bay of Bengal. You and I are in south India. I feel sick from the heat, sweat dripping and seeping through my white cotton shirt. I sip some sugary lukewarm juice, once a delightful icy treat, but now also depressed by the heat. We drive down narrow village avenues. The car’s AC helps as much as it can, but even it is getting tired. I lower the window and ask a young man grinding sugarcane beneath a coconut tree where I can find the local kalamkari artist. Politely, he points to a narrow four-story home wedged between two similar-looking frail buildings. I step out of the car and begin to walk up the narrow staircase. It has no railing and, with my big feet, wide shoulders, and height, I feel I have some reason to be wary. So I take it slow, taking shelter from the pounding heat in the shade projected by the narrow ceiling above the narrow stairs. I stop and think; why am I even here? I’m 20 years old, I attend a world-class university in the US, and most of my fellow classmates are busy at work in their air conditioned summer internships in offices in New York City. I say,
Man, maybe I messed up.
I quickly push the negative thoughts out of my head, convincing myself they are just my subconscious complaining about the state of my body in the heat.
Then, I knock on the door at the far corner of the top floor of the building I had been ascending with such ‘enthusiasm.’
The door opens, and I immediately know, this is why I am here. I don’t need an air conditioned office, I want this.
I see a normal room, but it isn’t just any room, it is a master’s workshop. I see colors I’ve never seen before, that aren’t on any ordinary piece of clothing at a shopping mall. I see a woman hard at work, probably for hours, concentrating with unwavering focus on her etching of a Goddess on a fabric. She uses a thin brush, dipping it slightly into her paint and continuing to detail her work.
I see a short man, simple and happy. He smiles at me. He was expecting me some time back, but he understands that we were late since google maps can’t shepherd us to such a remote location.
He shows me around his workshop, tells me his story, about his father and his grandfather, generations of artisans. He pulls out an award-winning fabric painting his father created decades ago, priceless.
I see fabrics laced with intricate patterns of delicate colored threads, a sheer spectacle of wisdom and mathematical intuition passed down through generations and sustained through rigor and practice.
I see an ancient art I want to make relevant to my generation.
I see United Looms.
United Looms is a garment/fashion startup that works with artisans and weavers across India to develop modern clothing. Our core values are fairness to those we work with, transparency with our customers, and using business as a means of empowerment.