Apr 11, 2009

The Rajboori Bloopers

"All’s well that ends well" and "It is what it is" are the two main mantras I lived by during the sample development process and the launch of Rajboori in a terrible economy. I had my doubts about how we would fare as a newcomer into this already saturated market of home textiles. However, I always knew that our story was a really strong one.

Stephen's innovative designs, the gorgeous colors of the jacquards, the intricate craftsmanship -all packaged beautifully with the bow of sustainability and "green" tied to i
t would certainly appeal to a market thirsty for exactly what we were offering. Walking through the rain drenched city, sometimes flooded streets, almost getting run over by vans, buses, plywood-carrying men, rickshaws, and what not, enduring the stifling humidity, all became part of my patchwork of the birth of Rajboori.

From a design sensibility perspective, both Stephen and I wanted to create something bold, defining, other-worldly, and vibrant. The designs would be contemporary but the artisanship would be traditional. Now, looking at the collection, I truly believe that we were able to accomplish just that. How can one resist Rajboori?

not all what we undertook as products to be part of our debut collection was successful. We had planned on having some funky, unique, hand-painted floor pillows as part of the collection. The fabric was silk but in a different texture than the Peace silk. The idea was for the artisans to hand-paint some abstract patterns inspired by the jacquard designs onto the fabric.

Easier said than done. The process entailed sketching the pattern onto the fabric, then using certain azo-free colors to paint the designs. A few hand-picked artisans were asked to give it a shot. We waited patiently for them to finish and then came the task of drying these fabrics to see how bright the colors were and how the final feel would be for the fabric. The trick was, this idea of painting onto the this silk had never been tried before so we didn't know how the fabric would react to this treatment.

This wh
ole process taught me a valuable lesson - during monsoons, don't plan on any work that requires the use of the outdoors. The fabrics were placed on a clothesline outside the workshop as the sun was out in its full glory. The sunlight helps bring out the true vibrancy in the colors and it's also a more energy efficient process of drying . All was fine, when all of a sudden, within a few minutes, hundreds of dark clouds came rushing to our spot of the city! We had to run out and bring the fabrics indoors to avoid ruining them. Huge commercial fans were turned on to dry the paint and we waited and waited and waited.

Once dry, with hopes the size of Mt. Everest, we touched the fabric with the design painted on it. To our dismay, the paint had dried to such a level of stiffness that unless you were an armadillo or something similar, lying on such a floor pillow to watch your favorite TV show would never be a pleasant experience. The silk being the texture it was, didn't like being dabbled in these paints and behaved very poorly.

So, to avoid future production disasters, we decided to table the idea of these particular floor pillows until a more appropriate solution was to be available. But, if they had worked out, they would've been fabulous!