My name is Antara Chiripal. I am the founder/Director of Maya Weaves.It’s a social enterprise, a cluster of 200 Handloom and hand embroidery artisans, based in Bengal.My mother tongue is Bengali, but I have spent most of my time out of Bengal, owing to my father’s job, so I am fluent in Hindi and English as well. I know workable Punjabi, Haryanvi and Marwari.A post graduate, while pursuing M.Phil , I started my career as an Investment Banker , while working there I decided to create some awareness among my peers around Bengal art and Craft , purely to find out how they would like a Handloom saree or a Kantha embroidered dupatta.formally started Maya Weaves later in life but I had been involved with handloom and handicraft, much before that.
I started with handloom and hand embroidery at a very young age, whenI used to visit my grandmother during summer vacations in Kolkata, West Bengal. The ladies there used to do kantha embroidery, as their favorite past time.I used to help them do hand embroidery on bed covers, quilts, pillow covers, table cloth, etc. which were essentially made to be used in their own households and the base of this embroidery were handloom fabrics which were handpicked and woven by the weavers associated with us for generations. During my stint in private banking, I remember I started off with handloom and hand embroidered scarves, dupattas, sarees to create awareness about Bengal art and craft, among her peers, which later turned out to be my true calling.After working for a decade in corporate sector, I decided to work full time as a social entrepreneur,to work with the artisans, with different crafts of West Bengal.
I believe in Bengal , art and craft is in our genes and I was raised among all of this so the inclination is very natural. I have personally done a lot of crochet work, embroidery, jute work,fabric paint etc.”.
My family is her pillar of strength. I consider all the artisans of Maya Weaves, my family as well.I have learnt oil painting and classical dance as well. Maya Weaves, the name of this organization is inspired by my aunt who is a National Awardee Artisan. I consider her and her love for the craft, the inspiration behind Maya Weaves. I bootstrapped this business and have been investing the profits back into the business for further growth.Our first big order was from a from A&T, Delhi. I learnt a lot by working with them. From there on, our journey escalated well. We have since then worked with a lot of A-listed designers, corporates, budding designers, government emporiums and private buyers.
Speaking about our products ,we make handloom fabric with all natural fibres; cotton, wool, jute, mulmul and many more. They are recyclable and made keeping in mind sustainable and ethical practices.We use recycled yarns as well, for weaving. We use azo free/natural /vegetable dyes for their fabrics.We work under ethical working conditions, fair wages and very, zero water waste and very low carbon footprints.
In our all women hand embroidery part, we have a separate training program for women who want to learn skills in kantha, crochet, terracotta and when they are ready to work, we procure orders for them.
I recently won an award for Excellence in Business for Maya Weaves from MSMECII.
I love working for the sheer pleasure of doing my bit for Handloom sector in India. Since my work involves daily interaction with the weavers, I have immense interest and on-the-job knowledge about different weaves, which I believe I can impart as well as learn in the process. Also, promoting sustainability as a lifestyle choice has also been my calling for a while now. We have to make conscious choices in what we wear, what we eat , what we bring home. I try doing my bit for the environment and I am involved with some NGOs who are working to promote environmental cleansing.
In the wake of this 2nd devastating wave of Corona virus, we need to wake up to the fact that Sustainability is not an option any more, it’s imperative that we listen to the calling. If not now, then when?