Recently, dignify received a review on our blankets that addressed the variety of our styles (color/pattern), and the contrast/matching choices that go into our kantha. Let's take a glimpse behind-the-scenes at the number of factors that contribute to these decisions.
How do we choose the fabric? How do we match saris to create the kantha blankets? Why are some combinations bad? Why aren’t there more grey/buttery yellow/navy blue color combos?
I know that many of you have wondered about these questions from time to time, too!
Here is the blanket review:
I love the excellent quality of the throws, I already bought a few. However, the combination of patterns could be better. The color match could be more tasteful. Also, in the advertising pictures there are some prettier than the available ones.
…I would love to see the white background with flowers a little brighter and more tasteful contrast. Sometimes one side is pretty but the other side is not good at all.
I will keep looking and hopefully prettier ones are available.
Zing! Maria affirmed the high standards of quality of dignify's classic throws; and, she brought up some disappointments that I understand. Let's dig in.
The building blocks of our kantha products are really very simple: repurposed, everyday cotton saris (or specialty silk-blend saris), and thread. This reflects the traditional craft of kantha (meaning "patched cloth"), and also highlights the talent of the artisans in the skilled stitching.
We like the environmental win of repurposing cloth, rather than adding to the massive climate cost of producing new textiles. Collecting these raw materials also creates the truly unique, one-of-a-kind pieces that stand out in an era of mass production.
But, there are downsides (or, perhaps better stated, challenges), too:
We have (and do, continually) consider printing our own designs on new cloth — then, making these into kantha products. This option is less environmental, less unique, less soft, less interesting, and more costly than our current approach.
One opportunity we are considering is to work with Basha to print our own saris, sell them new to women in Bangladesh, and create a system where Basha will buy them back later on (to use to create kantha). This is a long-game vision, and an exciting potential! As dignify grows, this becomes more of a possibility.
But, this would still only capture a portion of the overall scale of saris we need to produce the blankets we sell.
The colors and patterns that are featured within a single sari cloth are because of the reasons stated above. In some cases, the style/match is very much baffling to me! Different cultural eye! In other cases, the combination is more creative & stunning than I could have imagined.
Matching two saris together (for the two sides of a kantha blanket) is a different story altogether: it's a human job.
When dignify first began, all of the sari matching was done by one woman, an American. She had a great eye for combinations that would appeal to a Western eye, because, of course, that was her cultural background.
As Basha has grown in scale, this task became impossible for one person (who also had numerous other responsibilities). Not to mention that we actually want the staff to be empowered in all roles of the business.
Here are some challenges we've encountered.
Robin has helpfully pointed out to me that in 2012, my entire collection was 60 blankets. Now, dignify's shipments include 600, 700 pieces... never less than 150. The truth is, we still get those eye-popping gems; and, we get a lot more.
Besides, beauty is in the eye of the beholder! I've written before that often the blankets I dislike are beloved by others. So, what do I know?
Our color combinations & pattern matching in saris (for the ultimate goal of creating beautiful kantha blankets), is all art, no science. If you think you can lend your skills to doing a better job, we will be thrilled to send you to Dhaka! :)
These photos are from my trip to Bangladesh in January 2020. The team wanted me to participate in sari matching so that I would see how challenging it is in reality.
In these photos, you can spot the textiles separated by color: red, purple, blue, green, yellow/orange, pink, black. And, you can spot what a farce it is to think that we can truly categorize them by color!
Our kantha journey is wild, vibrant, challenging, and fun. That's why so many people love their blankets! We hope that you can find one to love, too.
Looking back at some photos from last Christmas, I came across this screenshot from my phone that really made me laugh:
My husband was dropping off our parcels recently, and a woman working in our shipper's office said, "I was looking at your site, and I think I might buy some of these blankets this year as gifts; I'm mostly shopping online." Another employee chimed in, "I'm going to do all of my shopping online, too."
That evening, he went with our kids to the mall to pick something up (masked, natch), and as he surveyed the hallways — with some permanently closed stores, some shuttered from lack of employees, etc. — Wayne's thought was, "I think I need to do all my shopping at the mall!"
This week, I posted on my personal Facebook page about Amazon's Prime Day, with some stats that bothered me.
A thoughtful friend commented with honesty,
"Could you share some more of your insights about Amazon. I don’t disagree that their model is terrible but I also haven’t been convinced enough to forgo the crazy convenience of it.
Help convince me!"
Here is the response I posted.