Safety : What does this word mean and what has you feel safe?
Isn’t this a word that should be a right for every human being on this planet?
Of course it is, but the fact is, so many of us spend our lives trying to feel this. Safe. I’m talking about this fully loaded in every facet.
For those who have met me, you will know that I can’t talk about the label without talking about my grandparents. I was born in Canada, and one of my biggest blessings was having my Dada & Dadi be the ones that cared for me for the main part of my childhood. They came over from India close to the time I was born.
For me- they were safe, in what wasn’t always a safe space growing up. Thinking of them, talking about them, brings such a warmth in my heart, I feel full of love, and just imagining their faces makes me feel safe.
Without moving into the full on story of my childhood, I want to share a discovery that I have pieced together lately. It is, how this, the label, my craft, brings me close to them. It has me feel them, and has me feel safe. Textiles are tied to memories in my mind, tied to the colours, the prints, the softness of the drapes of those sarees that my Dadi used to wear. The pinstripes of shirts, crispness of cottons have me think of my Dada. The frills and flounces I dream up in Mini*Bili dresses take me back to the gorgeous creations that they made and we pranced around in.
Though, within this feeling of safety, there is something about this business, this craft that is not safe, that is not secure. When I founded the label it was with so much of wanting to create it as one that could be safe.
I have heard things along the lines of, my grandparents having to work through the nights, that this is going backwards, and that if this was an industry or business that you could make money and be successful in then it would have been taught through the generations and carried on. This was the reason that it wasn’t. So here I am, living and working to bring the craft of my ancestors into the world and show it off for the bare, truthful, authentic version it is.
That is, me, my small team, at our machines in our humble Atelier, crafting every piece for you by hand. You can visit, you can watch us, and the process is something you get to live and breathe with us. The foundation the brand was built on is exactly this- it’s not something that was an afterthought. It was a forethought.
House of Bilimoria was founded in 2008, having just had my first child. I wanted to know I could create a way of working that would have been able to choose my days timetables, and be able to be around her as much as I could.
What was also innately important to me was ethical fashion. I would be making all the pieces myself. As it’s what I have known and loved from a small age - but then came the mission of having to source fabrics, what I would be using to make these pieces.
I went on a plight of searching on Google- to find fair trade initiatives, as transparently as I could. Of course I didn’t have the option to go out there and look at them all personally myself. But I managed to set up phone conversations, trillions of emails back and forth and found myself happy with what I had sourced.
Fast forwarding to now- I still have some of these gorgeous fabrics left. One of which is available in this Secrets to Self-care kit that I have collaborated on with my dear friend Anisha Parmar. Together we make Ani & Shi.
So now, on the last day of Fashion Revolution Week 2020, I am sharing this with you, as our doors are always open for you to transparently see, #whomakesyourclothes. Our vision and ethos is stronger than ever, showing you that even if it’s taken you to be isolated during this Covid19 pandemic to wonder, where does this product come from? That it’s better now than ever.
You can see us, meet us, ask us any questions you like. You will know who it is that is making your pattern, who then cuts it all out and constructs it. The process is totally beautiful and I hope to share it with many more.
This journal entry is dedicated to all those that have been hurt and lost their lives in the Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013. Never forgotten.