How did it all begin?
Premaasi Textiles is a dream come true for me. In Bombay, India where I grew up, I was surrounded by beautiful textiles, hand-made with great skill by craftspeople all over the country. I loved their feel and admired the hands that made them. I spent many Saturday afternoons browsing "hand-loom exhibitions" as we called them then. The clothes I wore growing up were made almost exclusively from hand-made material. I hadn't really appreciated what that meant until I'd lived and worked in the U.S. for several years.
I had thought that the idea for Premaasi was born in 2003 when I co-hosted the very well-received "100 weaves of India" exhibition with 3 friends... But as I started to write my story I realized it had been simmering in my sub-conscious long before that. Imbued with a love of hand-loomed material and blessed with a mother who continually championed the causes of the downtrodden, I recognize now that the the seed for Premaasi was planted on those Saturday afternoons spent with my mother and aunt at the handloom exhibitions in Bombay.
Traveling and Tracking
After the exhibition in 2003, I collected textile pieces, tracked down artisans and recently visited them in their homes in rural India. Over chai and chachh (tea and buttermilk) I discussed their work with them and selected pieces that I wanted to share and bring to the U.S. market. On a recent visit to a nature park in Southeastern Madagascar I saw some stunning embroidered products made by women in the village of St. Luce and we are now introducing these products to the U.S. market. Stitch Sainte Luce, as the project is called, has uplifted 1500 women in St. Luce, making the women and families economically independent. It is projects like this that keep me inspired and motivated: marrying my love for beautiful, hand-crafted textiles with a desire to support people as they aim to better their own lives. We are thrilled to be the first organization to to bring these products to the U.S. market.
What's in the name anyway?
Premaasi is short for "Preeti Maasi". Maasi is "mother's sister" in Hindi. The name Premaasi is inspired by my community, both young and old that warmly call me "Preeti Maasi". In a small way, Premaasi Textiles aims to make the world a better (and more beautiful) place for them,.