We decided to go to the grassroots of “Made in India” luxury, on a recent trip to Jaipur. We drove into the rural heartland of Rajasthan to meet a bunch of enterprising village women, weaving rugs for Jaipur Rugs.
The family-run Jaipur-based rug brand needs no introduction as it adorns the home of the world’s richest and most influential people including royals, heads of state and celebrities. It is here, in rustic villages like this, where groups of local women painstakingly weave these luxurious rugs. The company now works with close to 40,000 artisans (80 per cent women) in a network of 600 villages. This not only has created jobs but also rendered each of these village women financially independent, in their own village. Interestingly, the company still works with over 2,500 yarn spinners from Bikaner, who work on a manual charkha and have chosen to not replace these hand-spinning jobs with machines.
This story of sustainable luxury is the vision of Jaipur Rugs’ founder and social entrepreneur Nand Kishore Chaudhary, who in 1978, started this initiative to work with artisans, in order to provide them with a skill and savoir-faire. In addition to the world’s most sought-after rugs, this has resulted in sustainable livelihood to 40,000 artisans, who have been trained at this skill and have had the necessary equipment installed in their backyards.
Here in this village, I sit with a bunch of 15 weavers, clad in colourful Rajasthani sarees, who explain to me that the handwoven carpets are made of natural fibres like silk, wool, cotton, jute and hemp. Most of the women in this group are the sole breadwinners of their family and all are financially independent. Weavers are given a design template, from the headquarters, and they are required to follow it to the tee. However, some weavers are given creative freedom and are given a carte blanche to create their own designs. From these humble villages, these rugs will be shipped to over 135 international cities and can retail for anything between INR 1.5 lakh and 10 lakh.
In addition to this, the weavers and their communities are well taken care of in terms of health, sanitation, banking assistance, and even education. jaipurrugs.com