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Fab Creation

Gen-next artisans reimagining handloom

For-Profit • Artisan-Owned • B2B2C

STARTED IN 2013

By Wasim Ansari, Rahat Ansari, Aasif Ansari, Mujammil Ansari, Nasir Ansari

PRODUCTS

Saris, Stoles, Dupattas

YOY GROWTH

15% to 20%

LOCATION

Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh

ARTISANS 

50

CRAFTS

Handloom Weaving

LIVES IMPACTED

500

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DID YOU KNOW?

“A person who buys powerloom supports 1-2 people whereas when they buy handloom, they support 5-6 people with one purchase. They buy a story.”

Though the tradition of weaving in the ancient temple town of Maheshwar dates back to the 5th century, it was popularised during the reign of the 18th century queen, Ahilyabai Holkar, who invited master weavers from Gujarat and South India to create traditional Maharashtrian style nauvari (nine-yard saris) and turbans, giving them as gifts to visiting royals. 

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MEET WASIM

Wasim is the 3rd generation to continue the family tradition of handloom weaving.

His grandfather used to weave turbans for the royalty of Maheshwar and Indore, and his father used to weave cotton-silk saris and stoles on the loom installed at home. Wasim’s mother continued the work at home and he started helping her out when he was 12 years old. By the time he graduated high school, he was proficient in all aspects of weaving.

He went on to pursue Mechanical Engineering in college but he also attended a training conducted by WomenWeave in 2009 for the young weavers of Maheshwar. It’s here that he learned about client handling, design, textile technology, marketing, computer skills, social media and sustainability. This course opened his mind to the possibilities of handloom. In 2013, he co-founded Fab Creation along with Nasir, Asif, Rahat and Mujammil, whom he met at the training. 

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“We realised colleges are teaching what our forefathers have been doing for generations and what we know to do since our childhoods. So we started understanding the work and realised that the market is huge for this kind of craft-led work and we can make a profit as well as save our heritage (dharohar).”

— WASIM, CO-FOUNDER, FAB CREATION
 

Fab Creation was informally started in 2009 with the intent of taking the craft forward. It was officially launched in 2013. Each of the founders has about 20 artisans working under them.

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“Since we were kids, we have seen our parents working in the handloom sector; they wanted us to become a doctor or an engineer. And that is the path we chose. We planned to make the most of our 9-to-5 jobs, wear first-class clothes, sit in an air-conditioned office all day, come back by car — live the corporate dream. But, we decided to do the 1-year course at WomenWeave and realised that this is our craft and if we don’t own it, it will become extinct.”
— AASIF, CO-FOUNDER, FAB CREATION
 
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CHALLENGES

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“Weavers often fail to deliver on time because of sickness, weddings or festivals. During such times when we have a high demand and very short timelines, we (the founders) have to step in to weave to meet deadlines.”

— WASIM, CO-FOUNDER, FAB CREATION
1

Weavers’ mindset geared towards repeat products and designs, not innovation

4

Lack of platforms to showcase products

2

Gen-next lacks access to affordable and relevant skill-development

3

Founders have to step in for weavers when they are unavailable (illness / wedding in the family, etc.)

5

Powerloom products are passed off as handloom

 
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SOLUTIONS

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“Our weavers often resist new ideas. We have to keep reinforcing the need to create new designs to ensure regular orders. Communication takes time but our weavers are slowly opening their minds to new possibilities. In fact, now they even enjoy making new products.”

— MUJAMMIL, CO-FOUNDER, FAB CREATION
1

Increased wages for artisans

4

Product diversification from saris to stoles, cushions, curtains, etc.

2

Establishing market linkages

3

Introduced new designs for variety

5

Facilitate advance payments for unmet needs (procurement of gas, ration, etc.) and adjust it against their wages

 
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LEARNINGS

The advantages of home-based work are manifold

“You are the master of your own time unlike in a 9 - to- 5 job.”

— WASIM, CO-FOUNDER, FAB CREATION
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The scope has increased

Thanks to both the Madhya Pradesh and Central government’s schemes for weavers:

 

- Subsidy-based loans for starting own business

- Health insurance if weavers get sick during or due to work

Demand for handloom is seasonal

Most orders come during the wedding season. Fab Creation makes products they keep in stock so as to provide regular employment to their artisans.

COVID-19 and the lockdown encouraged experimentation

Artisans explored new yarns, weaves, materials, and designs. It prompted learning and implementation of new techniques through YouTube, collaborations with designers and clients.

Women weavers prefer simpler designs

They weave post completion of household work, and prefer working from home instead of coming to the workshop; looms are set up at their homes allowing them to work at their pace on their terms.

 
 
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WAY FORWARD

The changing consumer is conscious, informed, and is looking to purchase products with purpose

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“Before, no one cared about where the product was made or how it was made or if the artisan was paid fairly. Today, customers are more conscious. They want to know the origins of the fabric, whether we use natural colours, if the working conditions for artisans are just. We want them to know the story so they understand what they are buying and if they are bargaining, what they are bargaining for.”

— NASIR, CO-FOUNDER, FAB CREATION
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Need to bridge the rural-urban divide by enabling greater access to education & opportunities for the communities that most need them

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“Students from cities pay huge fees to study in NID and NIFT and end up working with a designer or company. Even after getting that knowledge, city kids are not able to work like a weaver in the craft sector. If gen-next artisans like us — who live in villages and lack exposure — received the same training in market research, design, etc., we can achieve a lot more.” 

— RAHAT, CO-FOUNDER, FAB CREATION
PHOTOS COURTESY FAB CREATION & VIDEO COURTESY PARI & STORYLOOM FILMS
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