Last week I had the pleasure to meet face-to-face with Kanak Hirani, co-founder of Karigar. I saw Kanak for the first time last summer when she gave a powerful speech at Spark 2016 in the Global Female Entrepreneurship Panel. We met at the brand’s showroom in the heart of Amsterdam and I was delighted to learn more about the amazing journey of their products empowering artisan communities that produce their amazing weaved products meeting the urban aesthetics and style. On this cold winter day, that started with half of Amsterdam being without power, we spoke about style, wellness and female empowerment under lovely and warm Karigar merino wool capes.
I on Image: The journey of companies from past to present always fascinates me. Tell me about Karigar’s journey to what the brand is representing today.
Kanak: We built Karigar really from scratch. My experience is in journalism and sales and my business partner Sindhu Holla has a strong background in finance and sales. I am the people person and Sindhu is good with numbers. In 2013 we launched the brand Pashm. We very soon noticed that to be able to run a profitable brand the traditional Indian designs and vivid colours needed to be adjusted to the European market and taste. That is when we brought in the element of design and hired our 3rd business partner, designer Jolijn Fiddelaers. And so in 2014, Karigar as we know it today, was born.
I on Image: You told me that the word karigar means artisan in Hindi. What is your brands relationship with Indian artisans?
Kanak: India has a very rich textile heritage and Sindhu and I are both of Indian origin. Our brand is shape-shifting this heritage by translating traditional skills and techniques into contemporary handmade products. We work with many artisan groups across rural India and help empowering them through their work and ability to keep their craft traditions alive.
Staying warm wrapped in sustainable @karigartextiles merino wool cape. Hope all Amsterdammers made it to work despite of the massive power cut this morning! #amsterdamstylist #imageconsultant #personalshopping #personalstylist #mumpreneur #femaleentrepreneur #accessories #merinowool #sustainablefashion #ethicalfashion #femaleempowerment #wellness
I on Image: We briefly spoke about the non-excistence of copyright laws in India. What other challenges does India provide?
Kanak: Finding the right artisan groups is the key. It takes 14 people to create one Karigar product. We have been to India ourselves to train the artisans to use the right techniques and colours, and educated them on our brand vision and our high quality standards. We are proud of our artisans and each our product comes with a Talking Tag that tells their story.
At @karigartextiles showroom talking about style, wellness and female empowerment with co-founder Kanak Hirani. It was very cold today so we stayed snug under Karigar merino wool capes. #amsterdamstylist #imageconsultant #personalshopping #personalstylist #mumpreneur #femaleentrepreneur #accessories #merinowool #sustainablefashion #ethicalfashion #femaleempowerment #wellness
I on Image: This cape is just amazing, I don’t ever want to take it off, especially not on this cold day. What other products you have?
Kanak: Our first product was our wool-silk stole that was launched on Dutch Design Week with our company in 2014. Next year we set up a really successful crowd-funding campaign to fund our popular merino wool cape that you are now wearing. Our latest addition to the collection is our merino wool unisex scarf. All our products are yarn-died and the maximum batch size is 25 items per loom. Our items sustainability comes from their long-lasting, high quality and multi-functional qualities.
I on Image: I saw! The cape can be worn 17 different ways. I very much like the idea of a multi-functional product and can see it answering many of my client’s style dilemmas: an extra layer on chilly days, limited luggage kilos during business travel, wish to conceal tummy/hip area in a stylish way, keeping pregnant belly warm, breastfeeding discreetly… As an image consultant and a personal stylist I am answering these questions on a regular basis but also helping my clients to get the most out of their wardrobe and budget. Multi-functionality also responses to the wish to live with less items that bring them the most joy.
On this video Karigar designer Jolijn showshow to wear your Karigar cape:
I on Image: What is your vision on Karigar’s future?
Kanak: Our focus will remain on fashion. We want to bring one innovative product per season and keep on making beautiful wearable items for our customers to enjoy for years to come.
I on Image: Thank you very much for having me Kanak!
I have selected my favorites from the collection for you. To order www.karigar.nl
Stay warm and stylish everyone!
Your image consultant with an eye for detail