We’d like to share with you an Indigo Handloom milestone. One of our weavers – Sujan - got married a few months ago. This is a picture of him and his new wife Poulami at their marriage and reception.
Usually we work with small business owners who contract with master weavers to carry out our orders. It is a tiered system. We give the orders to our supplier and they go to a master weaver. If it is a large order, the master weaver will farm out the order to weavers who contract with him. The work is divided because each level requires different skills. The person who communicates with us in English is not the same person who has the skills to get the dye color correct or create an interesting weave pattern.
But Sujan is different. He was determined to work for us. He found us online, emailed and called, followed us on Facebook until I relented and agreed to meet him. I have a rule about taking on new suppliers. I will only engage with a new person if I think there is a way to work together. Working in a dying industry has such heartbreak. One is that there are huge numbers of desperate weavers wanting work. It’s hard to say ‘no thank you’ because not every style of weaving works for us.
Almost every week I get an email or message asking us to work with a new region. It’s a balance between understanding the market here, training or designing goods that work in our market and keeping our inventory in check.
But I digress.
Sujan came to me because he wanted to get married – and felt like he had to get himself on solid financial ground. His father had passed away and he was the sole provider for himself and his mother.
So I agreed to meet him next time I was in India and scheduled a meeting. I was sitting in the lobby of my hotel when the hotel staff approached me. They said a man was waiting saying he had an appointment with me.
They pointed him out. His face was peering through the glass wall that separates the calm, air-conditioned hotel lobby from the incredible humid chaos of India. He was a little dusty looking and carrying several bags full of textiles in both arms. I could tell the hotel staff was hoping I’d say ‘no.’
In fact, they asked me twice – just to make sure. He did not look like the rest of the guests coming for business appointments at The Taj. In fact, it was the first time he had stepped foot into a five-star hotel.
He told me that he was ‘must’ work for me and he would not give up.
“I must stand on my feet,” he kept saying and it was clear he was going to do it somehow. Once he had established himself, he explained, he could suggest marriage to someone.
He’s now a regular supplier of ours and in fact, one of the most reliable. He told me recently that his neighbors still don’t believe he approached me and now has a US-based customer.
Congratulations to Sujan and Poulami.