By far my favorite moment when returning to India is walking into the Vatsalya/Anchal office and seeing the artisans for the first time. When I round the corner and peek into the room, I am met with smiles, welcomes filled with "namaste," and the excitement of being together once again. This exchange fuels my soul. More than ever there is a mutual recognition of accomplishment, empowerment, and pride in where we have come in 3 years together.
The first day, we started by showing the results of all of their hard work the past few months – the Anchal x Urban Renewal Collection. Let me preface this by sharing how difficult the past few months have been. The fact that we were even able to complete the order is a miracle in it of itself, not to mention we completed it on an extremely short deadline. There was trouble sourcing material, strict deadlines for the first time, general growing pains of adding 50+ women in 2 months, and oceans of stress felt on both ends of the collaboration. We even had to completely remake two pieces due to color and measurement discrepancies. Even though questions of doubt surfaced, the Vatsalya team & Anchal artisans met the challenge head on and produced a brilliant final collection of beautiful handmade textiles. Tricia, the designer of the Anchal x Urban Renewal Collection, passed around the images of the completed pieces and showed the first jacket prototype. Watching their faces light up as they viewed each piece, making comments and giggling among themselves was priceless to see in person. They were beginning to make sense of what became of the multitude of different sized kantha pieces. Though it may not have been overwhelmingly expressed, I could see the excitement and pride they felt when knowing what they made had transformed into garments worn by a model and then sold in the United States. Many words of thanks and gratitude were shared and just as quickly, we were starting on the first lesson. Day 1 is always a bit confusing with new demands, new politics, a new space and getting to know new faces. However, we focused on teaching about pattern, repetition, and how stitch alone can manifest a completed pattern. We taught new stitches and emphasized alignment. The days samplers will help inform designs to come. Stay tuned for what’s to come and stories from David who will be filming the women of Anchal.