By Richa Wadhera

You might have bought one of their gorgeous clutches in phoolkari or crochet, or spotted one of their runners on your host’s dinner table last weekend. Aiyana – a not for profit, social enterprise that has its roots in the traditional handicraft of Punjab, and the ladies behind which come all the way from 4 small districts of Punjab. Where we spotted their products? Retailing at Ishtavam, The Lodhi and Park Hotel.

Aiyana is a sub brand of the Umeed foundation, founded 17 years ago with the aim to help rural Punjab. What started with medical camps and employment opportunities for men, branched into women empowerment about 3 years ago. Women with stitching and crochet skills started by stitching wine bags, cushion covers, mats, runners etc, which retailed through exhibitions and personal selling. A year in, processes were streamlined, where women doing phoolkari started lending their art to a modern accessory – the box clutch. As retail picked up, a sub-brand Aiyana was created, giving the women a brand of their own to identify with.

With the rising popularity came design development, curated collections, and experimenting with different fabrics. The team expanded the audience base, with modernity coming from their choice of colours, the number of repetitions, and where the designs are applied. Today, Aiyana does fashion, accessories, lifestyle and décor products – coasters, napkins, potli bags, blouses, and a lot of commissioned work for export houses and designers like Rina Dhaka.

With a production unit in Punjab, trainers in 4 centres, and quality management systems in place, Aiyana runs as smoothly as any other fashion brand. Women work whenever they are available to, and sometimes even take work home. Renumeration is in line with market trends, and women are incentivised per piece. More and more women are stepping up to learn the art of phoolkari, and some are even experimenting with their own designs. Though all final finishing is done in Delhi, the system encourages complete transparency and the final products retailing are both gorgeous and not exorbitantly priced.

Give back |

Aiyana works with a design consultant and team from Two Worlds Meet; so freelance designers, here’s a great chance to associate with this social enterprise! You can be a part of the team that designs their collections.

For others, support the cause of women empowerment by doing what most women love – shopping!

For retail stores, or to get in touch with them for direct orders, click here.

Also keep an eye out for their online store, launching very soon; they have also been seen at the Blind School mela, Embassy melas, and Kala Ghoda{Mumbai}

Prices: INR 50 for a crochet coaster, INR 300-400 for mats, INR 1,000 for runners, INR 1,800 for a simple crochet bag, INR 2,500 for a Chevron or patchwork phoolkari bag.

To read more about the Umeed Foundation or Aiyana, click here.

Find them on Facebook {they retail through here as well} here.