Products – Stylish, Handy and Value for Money hand-weaved bags and Baskets that goes both with Western and Indian outfits, and also that add a flair of unmatched chic to your home and wardrobe
Ziveli – an earth conscious lifestyle product brand, with a Bohemian personality, aims to make unique products which are not a mass produce. The founders of the brand Ziveli mentioned that our products are handmade curtailing the use of machinery and energy consumption.
The founders of Ziveli, Tanvi J Saraiya, Kehaan J Saraiya and Yadu Krishna, travelled far and wide in search of long forgotten crafts and have built a community of expert women artisans to deliver the finest of handmade products. They work with cooperatives and artisans and pay them a fair, living wage. They are committed to ensuring they have a safe, comfortable and clean working environment.
Tanvi, Kehaan and Yadu work directly with artisans which economically stimulates neighbourhoods and provides jobs for marginalized women. Today ZIVELI links over 200 rural artisans to modern urban markets, thereby creating a base for skilled, sustainable rural employment, and preserving India’s traditional handicrafts in the process.
Sustainability is at the core of our brand says Tanvi. We use 100% natural plant fibres in our handbag and home decor collection. These fibres are biodegradable and sourced locally from farmers and cooperatives, thereby greatly reducing our carbon footprint. We use innovative and sustainable materials like Vegan leather made from coconut waste, unbleached cotton, Jute, Sabai grass, and of course, Kauna reed.
Tanvi, Kehaan and Yadu Krishna work with women in Manipur, to craft the Kauna Reed bags and baskets. They further added that “Our desire is to preserve our traditional Indian heritage, one village and one craft at a time”.
ZIVELI’s love story with Kauna, however, began a little over 2 years ago. Kehaan Saraiya – tackled researching the Kauna craft in Manipur and the artists responsible for it as part of this final year project at Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology.
Commonly known as bulrush, artisans from Manipur lovingly call the wild water reed – Kauna – in their local language. Kauna is a perennial grass-like plant that grows all around the world at different temperatures and can grow as tall as 10 feet in shallow water or on marshy land. The plant is naturally resistant to insects and helps combat water pollution by absorbing toxic microorganisms and poisonous metals. In addition, the plant creates an excellent habitat for wild birds and their dense roots serve as a strategic shelter for fish. The crop is harvested 3 times a year because of the high demand and is done so when paddy is not cultivated.
Kauna’s commercial viability lies in the strength of its stem. Apart from serving as a delicacy, the stems are often used to weave strong baskets, boxes, bags and mats. When the artisans use Kauna for production purposes, the stem is cut when the plant grows to about 3-4 feet and is then dried in the sun. During the actual hand weaving, the reed needs to be moistened again to increase flexibility. The tools used are very simple, the artisans need a regular needle for stitching and of course a sharp pair of scissors or pliers for cutting purposes. Mats are made on a frame where jute runs on the waft and the wrap are lined with Kauna. Everyday objects like katoris, bottles and boxes are also used as the mould for 3 dimensional products. This practice and process has been around for decades, but these days we make our moulds specific to designs, using bamboo or wood says Kehaan J Saraiya.
A co-operative society in Manipur is now set up, that doubles up as a skills training program for local women in association with Tata Trusts; it serves as an NGO. Yadu along with Tanvi and Kehaan also mentioned that “We are trying to set up new clusters to promote different crafts. Currently we are also working with artisans in West Bengal, primarily working with Jute and Sabai Grass and artisans in Telangana, working with palm leaf. Upping the numbers of those in the programme is also a priority. We want to add another 75 people and have a total of 375 artisans by 2020.”
“We sensed we could use the traditional knowledge the women artisans had in mat making to do something different, that’s why we branched out into making baskets. We had already established a relationship with the villagers and that was an advantage. We concentrated on skills transfer, design and on cutting out the intermediaries fleecing the artisans.”
ZIVELI started with 50 women artisans 3 years ago and now we work with 175. Their salary has tripled and they are guaranteed work for 7-8 months of the year. An increase in their spending power has coincided with the phenomenal overall development of the region. More money is being spent on education of children and improving the health of family members. Since most of these women (can and do) work from their respective homes, they are now also better equipped to support a household. The government has also played a big role here – electricity has become more stable; telecommunication services have improved and construction of a connecting rail link has begun. Over the last couple of training batches there has been an increase in the number of young women interested in taking up the craft as well – undoubtedly the most sustainable sign of development.