Product – Banana
In an era where the need of the hour is to go greener, Banana products are indeed a good substitute for leather, plastic as well as paper. After the fruits and the leaves are harvested, the are extracted from the bark of the banana plant by highly experienced artisans, thereby utilizing renewable farm resources. The process needs no electricity as they are handmade or
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Earthy Hues, a firm that deals exclusively in banana products, was conceptualized by Rekha Rajagopal and Maya Ajay to create awareness about these products and to encourage people to appreciate and value the eco-friendly way of life.
Intrigued by the idea of making various products with hand loomed banana fabric, two women entrepreneurs who share a love for ethnic and handmade products, joined hands to set up a firm called Earthy Hues. Earthy Hues today, a design house which conceives a product, sources the raw materials and works in unison with a strong team of artisans who toil relentlessly to create a piece befitting the product line.
One of the first products from the Earthy Hues stable is the Cream Clutch with Red Border. The clutch is made out of black warp banana fabric and the flap has a cream silk fabric. A red thread-work border provides a perfect contrast. The perfect style accessory ethnic wear for grand occasions, the Cream Clutch with Red Border turned out to be a runaway hit.
Growing up in the verdant landscape of Kerala, Rekha Rajagopal and her sister-in-law, Maya Ajay were no strangers to the natural bounties of the region. A graduate in English Literature and an MBA respectively, Rekha and Maya worked full-time jobs until 2011, when they decided to turn their long-time appreciation of , ethnic products into a business. With a simple vision – to understand how natural materials can be used to replace conventional ones – the duo began their exploration of plant-based . ‘When we stumbled upon banana fibre fabric, we were intrigued by its versatility, by how easily it lends itself to different products and designs,” says Rekha, adding, “We were familiar with the uses of the other parts of the banana tree, but discovering the potential of the fibre was a revelation to us.”
The duo toured the country meeting artisan groups making banana fibre products but found that the cottage industry was held back by a limited product range and outdated designs. They started Earthy Hues in 2011 as an online store for accessories, stationery, and home decor items made of banana fibre. Extracted from the stem of the banana plant, the fibre is cleaned, spun into yarn, and handloomed into fabric before it is crocheted into different products by rural women artisans. “The entire manufacturing process and the final product are almost carbon neutral” Rekha informs. After harvesting the fruits, the banana stem is rejected as agri-waste. The fibre is biodegradable. Unlike jute, a material it is often mistaken for, banana fibre is hand-woven into fabric and the energy consumed during its manufacture is minimal. Each Earthy Hues product is the result of days of painstaking effort by an artisan, ensuring that no two pieces are ever the same. The partners always have their eyes peeled for new designs that satisfy the contemporary aesthetic but this has not diluted their commitment to natural products. The banana fibre fabric is dyed with chemical-free dyes and paired with other traditional, handloomed fabric such as kalamkari and ikat often sourced directly from weavers.
. Their focus is also on creating awareness about banana fibre as an adaptable, environment-friendly material and put these products within the reach of more consumers. As it grows to become a recognised name, Earthy Hues is committed to having a positive impact on the artisan communities it works with. “They are a part of our growth story and empowering them financially and with capacity-building is our responsibility,” say the duo. Urban consumers today are seeing value in eco-friendly products and are ready to invest in them. “We are seeing that customers are eager to interact with us and contribute to the look of the final product and nothing excites us more than to create new designs for our growing clientele,” smiles Rekha.