Usha Sewing Machines weave magic on Delhi streets

Source: St +art, India

Source: St +art, India

Usha Sewing Machines weave magic on the streets of Delhi with 90 kms of fabric! With the help of a very creative crochet artist from Poland and St+art India, Usha Sewing Machines literally painted the town Red in this inspiring project.

60 people, 3 weeks, 40X20X8 feet installation and around 90 kms of fabric! One of our biggest street art projects, in collaboration with the Delhi Urban ShelterImprovement Board, is now complete! Olek, the world famous crochet installation artist from Poland, covered an entire family night shelter with a beautiful crochet installation.

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 8.48.53 am

Source: Polish Institute New Delhi

Spot this incredible beauty here: Before the Sarai Kale Khan Fly over, on the left side, behind this bus stop, after crossing Bara Pulla.

The mammoth project was supported by  Polish Institute New Delhi , Allkraftz & USHA International for supporting this mammoth project. Other fashion designers associated with it were Tarun Tahiliani and Manish Arora .

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 8.49.06 am

Source: Polish Institute New Delhi

The HAB at Kala Ghoda Art Festival

1The HAB organised a bookmark making activity for kids at the Kala Ghoda Art Festival’s book swap event in Mumbai on 8th February, 2014.

X-change it, a popular organization that holds such barter events hosted the book swap event for kids between the age group of 4-12, at the Prince of Wales Museum Grounds. As part of the Kala Ghoda Art Festival,  the event gave kids a chance to exchange their read-old books for unread-old books. The HAB’s workstation next to the book swap stall encouraged children to make their own Bookmarks.  The venue was buzzing with several other activities from quiz workshops to a Zumba classes and storytelling sessions.

7

The event scheduled for 11 noon, started on time, with The HAB workstation getting crowded right away!  As children queued to make bookmarks on the Dream Maker 120 Sewing Machine with the help of our resident sewing expert.

6

As the day passed by, the number of children who approached The HAB workstation simply kept increasing. A few of them were as young as 4 and 5 years of age, but were so interested in the activity that they wanted to do it all by themselves without help from their parents or our sewing expert.The kids and their parents were all excited about learning to sew.

5

Ours was the only workstation which attracted both kids and their parents. With several parents being very keen on making bookmarks. By the time the event ended around 5 pm, we had made 130 bookmarks!

4

Kala Ghoda Art Festival Trivia:

  • The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, now in its 16th year, is a community celebration of the arts within one of the most beautiful and historic precincts of Mumbai, The Kala Ghoda Art District.
  • It is open to all, free of charge.
  • It has traditionally offered various programmes in Visual Art, Urban Design & Architecture, Music, Theatre, Dance , Street Acts, Heritage Walks, Literature and Workshops for children as well as adults
  • The Festival has grown exponentially, and is hugely successful, drawing over 150,000 people from all over the city to 350 events over 9 days. Tourists from all over the world plan their trip to Mumbai to witness the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival.
  • Funds raised from the festival go towards the restoration and upkeep of the area. Several heritage buildings and institutions in the area have benefited from this.

3

Usha Silai Schools: Creating Opportunities in North East India

1NagalandBackground and Context: UIL has been successfully running the Silai School program in Nagaland since the year 2013. This case study is an attempt to record how the 10 Women Entrepreneurs from the 10 Silai Schools in Dimapur have successfully joined hands to start a Showroom Cum Sales Centre by mobilising support from the Nagaland State Social Welfare Board in Dimapur.

Presently, UIL is running 20 Silai Schools in the state. All the Silai Schools are in the districts of Kohima and Dimapur

The state is inhabited by 16 major tribes and a large number of smaller tribes. Each tribe is unique in character with its own distinct customs, language and dress

2nagaland(II) Main trends of Silai Schools in Nagaland

  1. Silai Schools have helped the economies of these 20 Silai School women entrepreneurs
  2. A positive enthusiasm is visible in the communities where the Silai Schools are operational
  3. Even the local district administration is aware and positive about the Silai Schools

Dimapur, which is the main commercial centre of Nagaland has 10 Silai Schools in the neighbouring villages (the other 10 being Kohima). For the State of Nagaland, MSS had conducted the Silai School training through the Training of Trainers (TOT) model, where 2 master trainers from the state were trained by UIL in Guwahati for a period of 7 days. One of the Master Trainers from Nagaland was an enthusiastic lady named Ms Thine Sekhose.

Thine, very successfully trained 10 women in Nagaland after having motivated them to start Silai Schools in the villages. In addition to being the Master Trainer, coach and mentor for these 10 village women, Thine is also the program coordinator for the local NGO called EDITI, which is monitoring the Silai Schools on a regular basis.

4nagaland(III) Spin-off effects of Silai Schools in Dimapur

One of the main problems that the Silai School teachers face is that once the number of learners have stabilised or if the teachers have completed the target of teaching 20 learners, they are enthused to do “something else” or “something big”. In Dimapur, the teachers wanted to sell their finished products and wanted to make a successful business out of it. However, since the Silai Schools are located in remote villages, not many people used to know or buy the finished products. Hence the number of customers was limited.

Gradually, the teachers, under the leadership of Thine Sekhose, planned to walk an extra mile to augment their income. They approached the Nagaland Social Welfare Department and appraised them about the Silai Schools and requested them for assistance to start a Showroom and Sales Centre in Dimapur. The Silai School teachers, planned that all the quality finished products that they create in the Silai Schools would be displayed and sold from the Showroom.

Happily, for the 10 women and Thine, the Nagaland Social Welfare Department  approved the proposal and agreed to support them by paying the monthly rent of about Rs 6000/- . Moreover they agreed to support the furniture and fixtures for the Showroom and a computer for their day to day work.

Therefore, the Showroom and Sales Centre, named as “Emergence” by Thine and her band of 10 Silai School Teachers came into operation on September 2014 at PWD Road, Midland, Dimapur.

6nagaland(IV) The Business Model of the Showroom and Sales Centre:

  1. The 10 Silai School women contribute to the centre, whatever products they make in the Silai Schools in the villages
  2. The finished products range from skirt-tops, soft toys, mobile pouches.
  3. The Silai School teachers have to contribute 5-10% of the profit for the maintenance and management of the centre
  4. Ms Thine has also started training centre on Sewing and dress making, soft-toy making and artificial flower-making centre. Traditional Bridal dress for wedding is also an especial item.
  5. Many people visiting Dimapur request for customised items and these orders are then completed at the Silai Schools by the teachers.
  6. The Centre has been named as “Emergence” by Thine and her band of 10 Silai School Teachers.
  7. This  EMERGENCE is evolving as a backward linkages initiative for the Silai School Products

The program has just started two months. There is an enthusiasm amongst Thine and her team. So far the response from buyers have been positive. Silai Schools are paving way for many opportunities for rural women.

Usha launches Silai Schools Programme in Bhutan

Usha International launches Silai School Programme in Bhutan in association with Tarayana Foundation

DSC_0128Usha International ltd announced the launch of the Usha Silai School Programme in Bhutan in association with Tarayana Foundation, a nonprofit organization working towards improving the quality of the lives of vulnerable individuals and communities in Bhutan. After 4400 silai schools in India and 100 in Nepal this programme is now being launched in Bhutan to empower village level women. For more information please visit http://www.ushainitiatives.com.

DSC_0148As a part of the 10 day silai school training program which starts today, twenty women have been selected from three districts of Bhutan on the basis of assessment guidelines shared by Usha. These women are being trained on advanced sewing techniques to become ‘Master Trainers’.

IMG_4494

These trainers will thereafter not only provide sewing services in their own villages but will also train other women as an income generating activity. Usha will provide all the machines and materials required, while Tarayana Foundation will provide logistic support and coordination during the training period. Tarayana Foundation would also be setting up 3 production centres called “Tarayana-Usha Sewing Schools” in three districts of Bhutan, namely – Thimphu, Trongsa and Mongar.

Usha Silai School Program is a unique community initiative, where Usha International helps women from remote rural areas earn a better livelihood, by providing them with the necessary skill sets required in sewing, stitching and machine repair.

Whom did Priyanka Felicitate?

Priyanka Chopra Felicitates USHA Silai School WomenRecently the gorgeous Priyanka Chopra felicitated two USHA Silia School Women at The HAB by Usha, under the Usha Initiatives programme. We all do know who Priyanka is, but what about the two women – Kamar Shaheen and Ms Shivnanada Nagnathrao Kothurwad – she acknowledged for their will towards self-independence? This is their story…

Ms Shivnanada Nagnathrao Kothurwad story could be termed as ‘noir’ if this was fiction, but since truth is stranger than fiction ‘tragic’ is the appropriate word. But the real message of the story is about ‘one’s will to rise above the dire circumstances that fate hands out to us.’ Like a twisted fairy tale it begins with a wedding: She believed that her marriage arranged by her parents would pave the way for her happiness and prosperity in future. But little did Shivnananda or her parents know that she was marrying a person who though professionally a local school teacher, also had a criminal record under section 306 of the Indian Penal Code.

Ms Shivnanada Nagnathrao Kothurwad

Ms Shivnanada Nagnathrao Kothurwad

Thus all hell broke loose in the life of Shivnanda after the marriage. The criminal in the husband began to show his real face with time. Incidences of domestic violence started increasing as time passed with the husband subjecting her to assault and battery for small reasons. There were even three attempts when her husband tried to murder her! Shivnanda had no choice but to run away from the criminal of a husband. She moved to her parents’ home (only as a paying guest) with her 2 young children to Sultanpur village in Nanded district of Maharashtra.

She resolved not to give up and wanted to be economically independent for her children and herself. Her husband had refused any financial support to the children or her. The USHA Silai School initiative came at the most appropriate opportunity for her. She started informing the community about the Silai Schools and gradually due to her expertise she gained popularity through word of mouth and over a period of 1 year she has taught more than 20 learners charging a minimum of Rs 150/- per month. Moreover her job work in the Silai Schools helps her to earn an approximate of Rs 100-150/- per day. Today her income has increased to Rs 6000-7000/- a month. In her own words, Shivnananda puts in, “the income from the Silai School has helped me to send my children to schools and I would like to thank Usha for giving me this opportunity”

The Silai School at Sultanpur village has helped an enterprising woman like Shivnanda come out of the clutches of poverty.  By refusing to go back to her criminal husband she has protected her own life and USHA Silai School has helped her sustain an independent and honorable life.

Creations by Shivnanada

Creations by Shivnanada

Unlike Shivnanada, Kamar Shaheen’s story lacks the darker shades of human nature, however it is one again of abject poverty and the will to rise above it. She is from an interior village called Bilora in Amravati district of Maharashtra. Daughter of a fruit seller and housewife, Shaheen and her family spent her childhood in acute poverty. However, her parents ensured that Shaheen attended the local village school to complete her Class XIIth.

Untitled-1 copyDuring her schooldays, she developed a penchant for sewing and stitching from her mother. This preliminary skill learnt from her mother and her determination to come out of economic hardships made her one of the best potential candidates for starting the Usha Silai School in her village. When the Usha’s local NGO partner contacted her, she was enthusiastic about the programme. With a resolve to succeed in this endeavor, Shaheen started her own Usha Silai School in Feb 2012 after being trained.

Gradually, the Silai School gained momentum and girls from near and far started attending her Silai School. Today, there are about 20 learners enrolled in her Silai School. Her income now is approximately Rs 5000/- per month. During festive seasons of Ramzan and marriage seasons her earnings go up to a minimum Rs 250 to 300/- per day from the job work she gets. Usha Silai Schools have helped her achieve her dream of economic independence.

To Know More Visit: www.ushainitiatives.com

Priyanka’s Day Out With USHA

Priyanka Chopra with USHA Director Chayya Shriram

Priyanka Chopra with USHA Director Chhaya Shriram

There is something lacking in the word ‘Marvelous’ to describe Priynaka Chopra, because she is so much more than that. Priyanka recently visited The HAB by USHA at Mumbai and charmed everyone. Beginning with her sewing to punching skills, she added even more charm to the beautiful interiors of The HAB.

Priyanka Chopra on the USHA JANOME Seiwng Machine

Priyanka Chopra on the USHA JANOME Seiwng Machine

A little experienced in sewing she claimed, growing up their first family sewing machine was an Usha one. She also showed off a few punches wearing designer gloves made on Usha Janome Sewing machine. Following which she stitched for herself a hand band with ease on the same machine. Later she was gifted a stitched portrait of herself masterfully crafted on the USHA Janome Memory Craft – a machine as marvelous as Priyanka, which is capable of creating any design the user wishes, against all odds! Walking around The HAB she amused all, with her antics of carrying a Duffle-Bag and trying on a skirt, all of which were crafted at The HAB.

Priyanka Chopra being gifted with with the sewn portrait

Priyanka Chopra being gifted with the sewn portrait

She went on to show us some real punches on an Usha Punching Bag along with Usha Director Chhaya Shriram. Following which she felicitated two Usha Silai School women for their achievements and never-say-die attitude. Speaking on the occasion, she appreciated and applauded the work done by Usha Initiatives through its over 4000 USHA Silai Schools spread across the country that have empowered women in rural areas. Connecting the dots she further added that one of the primary themes of the movie Mary Kom is women empowerment, which Usha has managed to accomplish in real life all across the country. She ended with thanking USHA, saying that without the brand’s contribution the movie Mary Kom wouldn’t have been possible.Priyanka Chopra Felicitates USHA Silai School Women

She was later spotted at the TISVA store – a Designer Lighting Store perched above The HAB. Where among glamorous chandeliers and sleek contemporary lights she lit a traditional Indian Diya accompanied by Mr. Krishna Shriram.

Priyanka Chopra at TISVA

Priyanka Chopra at TISVA

To Know More Visit: www.ushainitiatives.com       For TISVA Visit: www.lifebytisva.com

If Music be the Food of Love Box on

Watching Mary Kom with Our Ears Wide Open.

If Music is the soundtrack to life the songs of the movie Mary Kom does justice to it. Beginning with its signature song Ziddi Dil to the soothing lullaby Charo, the latter sung by none other than Priyanka Chopra, in which she excels. The songs almost narrate the yet to be released movie perfectly.

The energetic song Ziddi Dil manages to encapsulate the entire theme and story of the movie. How women with stubborn passionate hearts can overcome all obstacles; fight against all odds and create history. What Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger was to Rocky III starring Sylvester Stallone in the ring, Ziddi Dil is to Mary Kom.

While Adhure, complements Ziddi Dil, its melody and melancholy, reveals the other side of the story, the thin line that separates struggle from futility: The line that heroes need to transgress and survive. It is the song every struggling hero needs to live for a song like Salaam India to follow. The latter being a patriotic song that salutes victory and pays tribute to both the Country and Mary Kom.

The romantic track Sukoon Mila shows yet another side of the story – a gentle love story in making. Powerful and melodic it is a very nostalgic track, which made Mary Kom’s husband K Onler Kom recall his teenage years, in tears. If that is not moving, nothing is.

Real life sadly doesn’t have a soundtrack. But if it did for the many marginalized women across India who have similarly fought against all odds to establish their own USHA Silai Schools, we believe it would be something like that of Mary Kom. Perhaps some of them are listening to these very songs as they stitch their lives together over their sewing machines.

Free Sewing Tutorials: Where Knowledge is Free

Gandhi copyUSHA Initiatives brings Gandhian principles to the new age by adopting new technologies to empower women and thereby awaken the world to new possibilities: “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high / Where knowledge is free…” (Rabindranath Tagore)

On 21, October, 1936 Mahatma Gandhi wrote to Rajkumari Amrit Kaur “If you women would only realize your dignity and privilege, and make full use of it for mankind, you will make it much better than it is.” The Father of the nation believed both in women empowerment through education and the power of the Spinning Wheel. USHA Initiatives with the help of the growing power and penetration of Internet in the country is trying to reach out to self-motivated women either with a passion for sewing or beginners who would like to take it up as a source of income or hobby.

Besides its many Silai Schools, USHA has made available a series of free downloadable Sewing tutorials under various titles. These books range from basic sewing tutorials to complex stitching and tailoring of garments and embroidery work. The Books so far released are:Downloads

  1. Indian Garment Design Course Book
  2. Little Girls Dress Making Course Book
  3. Machine Embroidery Course Book
  4. Western Casual Wear Course Book
  5. Sewing and Design Course Book
  6. Creative Design Course Book
  7. Cutting and Tailoring Course Book

Each Book caters to different needs and together contains thousands of instructions on how to sew, starting from the basics of a stitch and fiber choice to complete garments, home décor items and fashion accessories.

You can download them at: www.ushainitiatives.com/free-sewing-courses or at the Usha International website

Usha Silai School: Breaking Gender Barriers

Logo-03Among the Top Ten Commandments enforced by traditional and regressive backward-looking  rural Indian communities the first duly states “Thou (women) shall do all hard labour at home and fields, while men being the bread earner will dictate the 9 other rules!”

Usha Initiatives through its Silai Schools are not just about sewing and tailoring, one of its primary aims through these training programmes is to break this unholy sacrament forged unjustly by a misogynist society. Not to blog our own trumpet, but Usha Initiative has thus far succeeded in its own little ways, helping women to transgress gender roles every now and then.

The story of  Mrs. Saroj Namdew, a resident of Satlapur village of Raisen district in Madhya Pradesh, is one such. She belongs to an OBC family. A mother of three – one daughter and two sons. Her household spiraled down towards chaos and poverty when her husband lost his job during one of the company retrenchments. However Saroj did not take to self pity or the village commandments, instead she stepped up to improve her family’s condition by joining a Usha Silai School training programme and later opening one on her own at home.

Saroj NamdewShe recalls ““Pati ke naukri jaane ke baad, hamare pariwar ki  stithi bahut kharab ho gayi thi, fir maine soch liya ki mujhe apne pariwar ke liye kuchh karna hai aur tab main NIWCYD ke  pramod bhaiya se mili aur USHA company ki madad se silai traning maine liya” (after my husband lost his job, my family condition became very bad. Then I resolved to do something for my family. With the help of NIWCYD and USHA I attended the sewing and stitching training)

Over the course of time she has trained over 30 women and even started her own tailoring business. However her greatest achievement lies in motivating her husband to learn sewing and stitching. Initially her husband was reluctant to undertake this task. After much persuasion, he agreed to get trained under her!  Today both husband and wife work in the Silai School and their income is about Rs 5000/- a month.

Mohini

Mohini

Mohini’s story is a similar one. A twenty eight year old, mother of a 4 year old son she hails from Delitalai village in Bikaner district of Rajasthan. Her husband works as a cleaner in a nearby NGO earning a meager amount – not enough to support a family of three. After attending the Silai School Programme under Usha Initiatives, today Mohini, is not just an Usha Silai School teacher but she is also running an NFE Centre. And o’course is the chief bread earner of the family.

There are many such other inspiring stories where women have broken gender barriers to take destiny in their own hands. In the video below we present a testimonial by another such woman:

For more such videos Click Here

Thread Art: Embroidery & Stitches in Time

American Quilt, 1840 (Brooklyn Museum)

American Quilt, 1840

“After all, a woman didn’t leave much behind in the world to show she’d been there. Even the children she bore and raised got their father’s name. But her quilts, now that was something she could pass on,” Sandra Dallas a reputed American voice once wrote. With all apologies to those quintessential Western words and quilting enthusiasts  we disagree, when it comes to the East. Especially in India thread art in form of embroidery are heirlooms – things of beauty, joy and truth, like Keats’ Grecian Urn.

The ancient Phulkari (flower work embroidery); the legendary Chikan craftsmanship (believed to be introduced by Nur Jahan); Kahsido work inspired by nature; the now trending mirror work embroidery – to name just a few. And who can ignore the elegance of Chinese Silk work embroidery. Yes, generations will come and go and your quilts will stay on, but eastern embroidery works are aesthetic creations not just pass me downs.

Eastern Emboridery work: Phulkari, Chikan, Mirror Work, Chinese Embroidery & Kashida

Eastern Embroidery work: Phulkari, Chikan, Mirror Work, Chinese Silk Embroidery & Kashida

However, times they are changing, the West has suddenly woken up to both Thread Art and Embroidery and have turned it into a fabulous medium of art – versatile and avant-garde, we are now looking at them from a whole new perspective. What punctuates our discussion now onward are a billion words, if each picture could be said to worth a thousand words.

The following piece is by Ana Teresa Barboza from Lima, Perú. Titled Suspension the artist uses Embroidery on cloth Knitted wool yarn.

Suspension

Suspension

While, the artwork of Annemieke Mein is unique. She combines fabric, paint and sewing threads to produce works that are realistically accurate. In the following piece titled Bulldog Ant, she uses Machine Embroidery along with applique, quilting and other techniques.

Bulldog Ant

Bulldog Ant

Inge Jacobsen uses thread work mostly on vintage commercial imagery using a Embroidery technique she has named ‘hijacking’ to throw new light on beauty and materialism – with a subtext that runs in every stitch. The work displayed below is a  Threaded Vogue Cover.

Vogue Cover

Vogue Cover

The last piece we present is by the Mondongo Argentina art collective, which includes artists Agustina Picasso, Manuel Mendanha, and Juliana Laffitte.The Untitled Portrait presented here uses various techniques created from Cotton threads on wood.

Untitled Portrait from 2008 Exhibits

Untitled Portrait from 2008 Exhibits

Wasn’t those thread and embroidery works breathtaking? Inspired?

Inspired enough to create your own pieces? Yes, we know most of you are not experts but like all of us yearn to be, when it comes to things we are passionate about. And here is where we can help you live your dream through our USHA Janome Memory Craft Embroidery Machines. Machines so technological developed and artistically inclined that they will help you weave your dreams come alive, be it an art piece or an embroidery work to adorn a dress. It is Embroidery on Autopilot! Well almost, imagination is a must though.

USHA JANOME MEMORY CRAFT EMBROIDERY SEWING MACHINES

USHA JANOME MEMORY CRAFT EMBROIDERY SEWING MACHINES

 To Know more and Get Started Click Here