As organic as the nature of brand Chindi is, its genesis too was no different. An initiative built on upcycled products, Chindi is the brainchild of 34-year-old Tanushri Shukla, who comes from a family of garment manufacturers. The brand sells goods made from waste raw materials collected from tailoring and garment manufacturing units across the city. Shukla has roped in the women from Mankhurd slums who crochet and knit products that are put up on sale on the website.
“My family has a garment manufacturing unit in Mankhurd that I would often visit as a kid. The name ‘Chindi’ borrows from what the tailors would refer to the waste cloth lying around — the ‘chindi kapda’. And I would keep seeing these huge piles of ‘chindi’ wondering how they could be put to some use,” Shukla says.
Tanushri Shukla with team Chindi
She would sit at the unit and knit all day. “It’s my hobby. One fine day, a woman working at the unit spotted me knitting and told me that she likes to knit and crochet too, and that she knows several other women in her neighbourhood who do the same,” she adds. That was when the idea struck Shukla.
“Knitting and crocheting are craft forms that are dying out. So I thought why not use all the ‘chindi’ available and start something. Most of these women are north Indian migrants who grew up knitting and crocheting. They have mastered the craft. When I finally met them, I saw that they had already made upcycled rugs and other home ware. Upcycling, for them is a way of life, they don’t do it as a fad. So the philosophy there is authentic,” she adds. These are also women who are not allowed to have formal jobs, so this was a way for them to make a quick buck without tearing themselves away from household responsibilities. The women make anywhere between Rs 2,000-Rs 10,000 a month.
“We pay them per piece, irrespective of whether or not the piece is sold. The market is still niche, but compared to how it was a year-and-a-half ago when we started, it has grown. If the products are designed well, there will be genuine takers,” Shukla says. The website offers a variety of homeware like rugs, mats, pouches, sling-bags and hair accessories moderately priced within the range of Rs 150-Rs 1,500.
So, what does the future hold for Chindi, we ask? “Last year, our hair accessories were showcased on the ramp at the Lakme Fashion Week. We went to the workshop for Nor Black Nor White and spotted five years’ worth of chindi there. Waste cloth at fashion houses is a treasure trove — sometimes you find 10 metres of some leftover fabric or 5 metres of unused block print material because of a misprint. We shared the idea of making products out of those, and the brand was more than happy to collaborate. That’s the kind of partnership we want to have, because it makes a real impact,” Shukla says.