“ It always seems impossible until it’s done.” — Nelson Mandela
Savnit Arora Gurnani is the Founder of Dhaaga & Co., a multi-designer web store that features creations of top chikankari and Mukaish designers of Lucknow. She was a visiting faculty at Pearl Academy, New Delhi and has formally been on the fashion teams of Roposo and Femina.
Starting from being a fashion stylist to opening her own brand, Savnit has come a long way. This online store features collections from over 15 handpicked talented designers and chikankari artisans from Lucknow and celebrate the heritage and culture of Awadh art through their exclusive designer chikankari work.
“I love a good challenge and what could be more challenging than getting together business competitors and making them into a blossoming community where they share their love for the craft!” Savnit tells The Medium.
Savnit graduated in Statistic Honours from Delhi University, followed by a Masters in Fashion Styling from Pearl Academy. Thereafter she worked on numerous creative projects, which greatly broadened her horizons and helped hone her skills as a fashion entrepreneur and a creative thinker. About 3 years back, she moved back to Lucknow and was skeptical about the shift in base since Lucknow wasn’t very exposed to the concept of Fashion styling and had very limited opportunities in comparison with metropolitans like Bombay or Delhi. However, she realized how culturally rich and vibrant the city of Nawabs is. In awe of the exceptional skill and intricacy of the craft of Chikankari, she acquainted herself with small scale designers and karigars and realized that they truly deserve accolades and recognition for their art which gave her the idea to start her own venture — Dhaaga and Co. — a reflection of her passion and heritage
Dhaaga & Co. is all about beautiful Chikankari and Kamdani (also commonly called Mukaish and Badla) work in different designer outfits. Their range of collections starts from Classic White Chikankari Anarkalis, Premium Designer Sarees in Pure Georgettes and Chiffons, Organza suit sets, luxury Lehengas to everyday chikankari Kurtas and Designer Kurtis. Apart from the ethnic Indian styles, they have also added contemporary styles like co-ord sets, chikankari tops and jackets, and much more. Their collections are an amalgamation of old-world charm and contemporary aesthetic. They are emblematic of the very essence of Indian handicrafts that have been passed down to us through generations. Each collection represents a certain vision and cultural significance. They not only keep the heritage of Indian culture alive but also support local artisans and their craftsmanship.
Dhaaga & Co’s products are authentic chikankari and each collection has a unique voice in terms of style and taste. The variety of fabrics used ranges from handloom Cotton, Jamdani, Mulmul, Chanderi to Chiffon, Georgette, Organza, Linen, Tussar, and many more.
What makes Dhaaga special is the very niche of the brand i.e to give back to the creators of the craft, is what sets it apart from other Chikankari curators/retailers. They provide a platform for the indigenous craft to facilitate growth and global reach. Dhaaga & Co. aims to introduce the cumbersome craft of Chikankari to the mainstream market and secure due acknowledgment for the grassroots artisans formulating a strong community of designers, craftsmen and the consumer. It is noteworthy how the company promotes its work along with encouraging and helping artisans and craftsmen to create more to keep their legacy intact. The Dhaaga Artisan Fund funded by Savnit and sales made by the webstore supports the livelihood of the artisans.
Digital innovation, rising globalization, and changes in consumer spending habits have hurled the fashion industry into the midst of seismic shifts. This wasn’t an optimal time to enter the market for Dhaaga either but Savnit’s professional experience gives Dhaaga & Co. a solid base for marketing, which in turn helps in facilitating smooth operations and her experience working as a stylist helps her curate looks for brand communication which has helped in creating unique aesthetic and build a strong brand image.
“I am overwhelmed by the love and response we have received from far and wide”, says Savnit. “We will continue to ideate, create, explore and innovate until Dhaaga & Co. acquires a congealed presence in the market so that anyone hailing from a small town knows that if you can dream it, you can achieve it!”
Dhaaga has made associations with the biggest names in the influencer industry like international blogger Masoom Minawala and Kompal Matta Kapoor, the saree diva, Dolly Jain, Television heartthrob Divyanka Tripathi, to name a few. A fruitful experience overall.