India's hand woven fabrics have been known since time immemorial. India is the only country noted to produce all four commercially recognized silks - Mulberry, Tasser (tussore), Eri, and Muga. Handspun sarees are a must-have for weddings in India. For Avani, it all began years ago in the district of Pithoragarh, where people used to spin locally-available marihuana fibers and worked with local bamboo. In order to generate another source of income for the rural artisans, Avani began its journey of silk cultivation.
The rural communities are extremely skillful in their traditional weaving techniques, but industrialization has changed the consumer mindset and the craft has plummeted over the years, discouraging the younger generation from taking up textiles as a way of livelihood. Avani has left no stone unturned in upgrading the skills of the local communities in order to preserve its craft. In order to strike a good balance between retaining the craft and appealing to the youth, the company came up with a cooperative program in 2005 called EarthCraft that fashions contemporary products with traditional skills, natural dyes, and materials like wool, silk, and pashmina. Creative color palettes and materials like linen have been introduced as a part of the program. EarthCraft markets its products under the Avani brand and kid's products under the brand Goraiya.
Today, Avani serves around 1000 artisans and farmers in over 100 villages in the Kumaon region and has developed a variety of product lines that are environmentally friendly and 100% natural. The products consist of textiles, natural dyes, art supplies, handicraft items, gift items, and lifestyle products.
In its lustrous textile fabrics, Avani uses local materials to create natural dyes and luxury fibers like hand-spun Tibetan wool, wild silks, and linen. The woven textiles include shawls, stoles, mufflers, jackets and sarees as well as home linen goods.
Avani uses wild silk (as opposed to cultivated silk) which means that the silk cocoons are collected in the wild, from local plant species. The company prides itself on producing exclusive handspun textiles. Avani now also works with a specialized range of products in pure linen as well as linen blended with silk and wool. The raw material comes from Belgium and is spun in India.
The use of natural dyes is traditional to all artisan communities. Traditionally, the color palette was limited to browns, yellows, and pinks but today, producing colors knows no boundaries.
Avani’s utilization of natural resources is not limited to fabrics. The organization extends its innovation in the field of art supplies by creating crayons and water colors that are natural, chemical-free, and 100% nontoxic. In a world of synthetic and plastic toys, Avani takes us by surprise having created toys made of natural materials such as wool, cotton and vegetable dyes to make them safe for children.
The company has revived the skill of natural dyeing and developed a broad color palette with research on more than fifty local plants. These dye materials are not only used for textile dyeing but also for producing colorants to use in industries like cosmetics, art supplies, and pharmaceuticals. Rashmi Bharati and Rajnish Jain, founders of Avani, provide new technology and new sources of livelihood as an integral part of living, being and celebrating life in the beautiful mountain ranges. Bharati was honored with an award in 2012 that is given for altruistic social work in the lesser known corners of the world. She strongly believes in the philosophy of ‘contemporary traditions’ built by the brand to preserve the age old craft of hand spinning, yet catering to today's consumers. Her vision has led the organization to great heights.