"Here was our chance to give something back to our country, and it was in the form of something we loved — fashion!"
"We are friends who have been driven together by our love for the rich and exotic textiles of India.
"During a holiday in the Garhwal Himalayas, we fell in love with a handmade angora shawl that we bought from Mahesh Chandra Bisht, a weaver trained as part of a rural village development and employment scheme. That's when it hit us — what weavers like Mahesh needed was a platform to connect them to the global fashion world.
"Here was our chance to give something back to our country, and it was in the form of something we loved — fashion! And this is when we thought of starting something to give a platform to these talented weavers.
"The idea was great and we thought it would be quite easy setting up our own enterprise. However, with each passing day, new challenges have been thrown in our direction and there is something new to learn all the time. At the end of the day, we wouldn't trade this for anything in the world. Sheer happiness is to wake up to work that we love! The most important thing is to be able to make a difference in the lives of artisans in rural India, and this is was what kept us going.
"We help our weavers translate design needs into exclusively handmade designs that are high in quality. By doing this, we aim to prevent the extinction of their craft. This empowers these men and women, giving them a chance to earn a fair and steady income and to stay happy.
"Neither of us has an apparel or design background, but what drives us is our passion for fashion. We are constantly learning the nuances of the craft from our people and believe that no single person is responsible for an individual item. It often takes a team and their combined effort to create the final design — from fiber to fabric.
"In fact, in the early days on the job, we had our awkward moments when we would make unreasonable requests for certain designs or styles to our weavers and they would explain to us the limitations of handmade. Now, when we look back, it brings us fond memories.
"Our organization's guiding philosophy is to be socially beneficial, through creating employment opportunities, and environmentally responsible by using natural and locally available materials. We aim to work with all that's local, from our people to our fibers.
"As the awareness of the handcrafted concept grows in the international market, we continue to work with our team in India to create handmade designs that appeal to people around the world, thereby giving them an opportunity to own something unique and handcrafted.
"For some of our people, this is a craft that has been their tradition for generations and for others, they have been trained to do the work.
"Our current collection for Novica uses merino wool, sourced from Himachal Pradesh. The final creations are woven by our craftspeople in Uttarakhand. However, we also work with vana (forest oak) silk, Himalayan nettle, local Harsil wool from Uttarakhand, and recycled ikat saris.
"The process of sourcing oak silk and nettle and turning them into usable yarn and fiber is laborious and can often take months.
"We love everything about our work. Throughout the whole creation process, from start to finish, human hands are involved. It is all about imagination, coordination, precision and execution. It requires high level co-ordination and is very laborious.
"It has been a great experience so far. Being able to give something back to society is a great feeling of achievement.
"At our organization we:
* Provide jobs – By giving our people a global platform, we help create awareness about their products/skills in the international market.
* Help support families – By giving them an opportunity to work, we are also giving them the chance to earn a steady income. This money can help them run their households and send their children to school.
* Prevent extinction of crafts – Many village youth are moving to big cities to look for work. In the cities, they take up small jobs such day laborers, security guards, or household helpers. As a result, many traditional weaving families are unable to pass on the weaving tradition to the young.
* Empower women – Women are the main stakeholders in Pashm. We aim to give them enough work and income so that they feel confident and empowered enough to become tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.
* Use locally sourced products – We try to look for fibers that are easily available locally, like Himalayan nettle, oak silk and Harsil wool, encouraging people to work with what's available and find new ways to interpret these fibers."