Narrative Threads

Ethically sourced Sustainable Clothing Brand

Natural Fabrics

Hand Made

Predominantly sourced from Cooperatives

In 2020, after 27 years working in the Technology industry, I decided to pursue a new direction. I had been hearing about the devastating impacts of the pandemic and related lockdowns on low-income women in the fashion industry in India - impacts that are ongoing. Working with a few weavers' cooperatives in India through a Fair-Trade agency and a women's sewing collective in Jaipur, I started a new business, Narrative Threads, with a mission to connect those artisans to markets here in New Jersey, and beyond. I want my work to create new commercial relationships for Indian coops and collectives, as well as a broader understanding of the deep traditions of Indian weaving and textile manufacture. We launched in November 2020 with a small collection; we've been well received among friends and friends of friends. In Spring of 2021, we were invited to be part of the “Textiles – Reimagining New Jersey” exhibit at the Barron Arts Center and in Summer of 2021 our products are in a brick-and-mortar store, Maplewood General Store, where we are connecting with a newer and diverse audience.

“There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness.” —Mahatma Gandhi

Rathna Kalyanaraman invited for an interview on Podcast "Making it here and there" (July 2021)

I’m not a big on joining poetry reading sessions, but it was January of this year and a particular poem and poet got my attention, so when a friend invited me to join a Poetry reading session on zoom, I willingly joined in. It was a very emotional evening where I got to meet more like-minded people and one of them is Allison Iurato. Allison is the host of the podcast series “Making it Here and There” which focuses on cross-cultural communication –“ ways in which individuals are using communication – across borders and across cultures – to achieve understanding, learning and overall consciousness of the world around us”.

I was honored that she invited to interview me for her 3rd season finale.

Allison is an excellent interviewer and is smart, diligent, well-prepared and so on-point in understanding cultural nuances that she is PERFECT for hosting a series on cross-cultural communication!!

WE spent an hour talking about what I do at Narrative Threads and it was the first time I had the opportunity to tell the whole story of my brand, Narrative Threads!!

We talk about

(a) Century-old weaving and dyeing techniques that are under threat of disappearing

(b) How the Fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world

(c) What is fast fashion and the supply-demand cycle that sustains the “fast fashion” industry

(d) What is green washing

(e) How to embrace an imperfect sustainable living life style

(f) How not to shame people who are in different stages of their sustainable journey

(g) How sweat-shops are not confined to South-Asia or South-East-Asia, but very much present in Europe and North America

(h) How local is “made locally” really

Give it a listen! The link for Apple Podcast is in my bio and it’s available on all other podcast apps.

- Rathna Kalyanaraman

Narrative Threads featured at the exhibit at the Barron Arts Center, New Jersey (March 2021)

So beyond excited to share this news with you!!!

The Barron Arts Center in New Jersey is celebrating its diverse community by doing a series on textiles from India, Ukraine and the entire continent of Africa called “Textiles – Reimaging New Jersey”.

The Curator of the exhibit “Weaving Traditions: Textiles of India”, Sonal Gadhavi, was having challenges in representing weaving techniques from certain regions of India, especially hand-woven textiles in cotton and silk. She had 4 days to go before opening to fill this gap. A fellow Small Business owner and my customer recommended that she get in touch with me. We connected, bonded and she was glad for the help plugging the gap in her collection. And now “Narrative Threads” will be a part of this exhibit that opens today!!!

The “Weaving Traditions: Textiles of India” exhibit is on view from March 5th – 26th, 2021. Please call and make an appointment to visit and support the Arts Center!!

What’s even more exciting, my textiles were sourced from social enterprises and coops in India which have a wonderful representation from women of all social classes, and all of us who connected for this project are women. March – International Women’s Day.

Story of Narrative Threads - Launch (November 2020)

Well, it is 2020 and there has been a lot of caring for the community followed by rationalization, understanding, introspection and looking at how the world operates in a different light. For each of us this journey has been different. For me, after 27 years of professionally fulfilling years in the Technology industry it is about taking a small pause and looking at how I can grow my other passions.

If you are reading this you are either my friend, family or my community and you know who I am and what makes my tick. I am passionate about women’s empowerment, equality, fairness and above all meaningful action to change the status quo. When I came upon a study about the impact of Covid-19 on low-income women in the fashion industry in Asia and Africa and news articles about the suffering of farmers and weavers in India, I channelized my passion to study the Fashion industry in India – the entire supply chain, fast/slow fashion, sustainable fashion, social/environmental impact and centuries old eco-friendly techniques and practices that are under threat of disappearing completely. In a lot of developing countries these workers in the clothing/fashion industry work in small groups in the informal economy, either organized as a cooperative, or as a collective under the guidance of master weaver/dyer/skilled artisan.

My new initiative, “Narrative Threads”, is to work with these cooperatives and collectives to create another avenue for bringing their products to market. This is all new to me and though I have immense passion, I wanted some help to create my relationship with coops/collectives a fair and mutually fulfilling one, so I am working with an organization who have the Indian government’s “Fair Trade” certification, to guide me through the initial setup process.

We launched in November 2020 with a small collection and were 80% sold out in a week.

Now our December collection is up on Facebook and Instagram. Please follow us and connect with us if you’re interested in our collection.

-RK (Founder)

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