HOUSE OF WANDERING SILK
The House of Wandering Silk (HOWS) is a woman-owned-and-operated social enterprise based in New Delhi, India. They create textiles that are made by hand from beginning to end by artisans based in India and other countries in Asia.
Many artisans are women who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Their textiles tell stories, bringing together the skills, traditions and cultures of artisan communities. The use of upcycled, hand-made and vintage materials is the foundation of their designs. The enterprise is built around the core values of authenticity, respect and beauty. HOWS is transparent in telling the stories of the people with whom they work and showcase their artisans through blogs and social media giving credit to their work.
HOWS partners with a carefully selected group of organizations and directly with artisans to ensure they’re offering livelihood opportunities to women who need it most, and that all artisans are treated well and paid fairly. Their designs and pieces are stunning and create opportunities for their artisans through a dignified and secure livelihood.
Product and Design
HOWS's signature products are their "kantha" scarves, wraps and shrugs hand-crafted from saris and their silk sari necklaces made from left-over scraps. The sari necklaces are made from wooden prayer beads covered in remnants of vintage silk sari fabric and are hand-finished with bright cotton thread. The scarves, wraps and shrugs are adorned with "kantha" embroidery by women in a cooperative near Kolkata, West Bengal. Together, these core products form the foundation of HOWS's zero-waste policy.
HOWS also sources "Nakshi Kantha" scarves from women artisans in West Bengal.
The House of Wandering Silk works with artisans in other parts of the country as well, tapping into India's deep textile heritage and hundreds of weaves and textile creation techniques to design and make stunning products. Their designs are mostly limited to a small range of one-of-a-kind products,.
In the nine years or so that the House of Wandering Silk have been in existence, they have had a significant impact on the lives of women artisans with whom they work - not just in terms of providing safe and dignified employment with fair wages, but also advocating, through story-telling about the lives of the women, the key issues of poverty, injustice and inequality facing these women.