Krishnaa Shyam created her brand Full Circle, which she says is beyond just a fashion label, rather a concept that promotes culture and community. “The Full Circle concept does not simply raise awareness or give back as an act of charity.
It inextricably links local livelihoods and inspired products to make the relationship deep, meaningful and sustainable,” begins Krishnaa, who is currently based out of South West of England.
Speaking about the inspiration behind the fundraising campaign, she says, “Having visited Chettinad and experienced their firsthand fiery traditional cuisine, unique basket weaving, handmade mosaic arts and crafts, I was deeply inspired to dedicate my project to them. But the very arts that make Chettinad unique are under threat today as the traditional weavers and artisans face competition from mass-produced alternatives.
Fortunately, organisations like M.RM.RM Cultural Foundation – who are my partners in this campaign – are pioneering a transformation in the lives of these rural artisanal communities by building a sustainable and direct route to market for their products.” From the designs and motifs on the scarfs, to the packaging, everything is inspired by Chettinad culture and sensibilities.
“This is a first in a series of products that are both inspired by and directly in support of special communities. Each scarf tells a story of its own and I would love the person who wears that to feel it,” adds Krishnaa who sells her products on online platforms.
A mix of delicate Cashmere, modal and crepe silk, the scarves are splashed with culturally inspired motifs, patterns and hues depicting Chettinad like kaavi (a brick red shade), toor daal yellow (shades used in sambhar and rasam), kathirikai purple (aubergine) and shades of marudani (mehendi green). But why scarves? “A scarf is a universal accessory.
Anyone from any place in the world can wear it in the manner that suits him or her. There are no rules or constraints as to how one chooses to wear them. It carries the surface design beautifully. Also, they add so much to your look.
Be it in simple prints or bold motifs, they are an eye-catching accessory,” adds Krishnaa. The 36-year-old who graduated with a Brand Development and Management degree from UK’s Bath Spa University, draws the designs on paper with ink and then digitises them.
While some are transformed into tessellations (repeating designs) like mosaic patterns, others are expanded onscreen to cover the entire surface. Her tryst with art however, began from a very young age.
“I grew up in a traditional setup watching my grandmother skillfully paint with bright colours. When I was about four, I would accompany her to Kalakshetra where she learnt painting.
At 10, I began my training in Tanjore painting which further helped me realise the value and glory of Indian art, folk art and craft. My art teacher in school, Tarit Bhattacharjee, a student of Santiniketan, was one of my greatest inspirations. He believed in the fact that any child could draw if taught the right way. From that day, I have never stopped painting and exploring this artform,” adds Krishnaa.
Every scarf you buy comes packaged in a hand-woven Palmyra box specially created by the artisans of Chettinad, signed by the artisan who made it. “This means you not only have an unforgettable, handmade, reusable case for your scarf but also a reminder that you have directly supported a dying art form,” muses the artist. Krishnaa is happy with the response to her campaign.
“The customers have showered me with compliments for the initiative. The fundraiser will go on till November 15 and I am hopeful to raise a decent amount for these artisans. At the end of the day, the idea is to make the community self-sustainable and encourage them in the process,” says Krishnaa.
Krishnaa adds with enthusiasm, “I am planning on expansion soon. I have a craze for handbags, so I plan to expand my line to bags, which will also be sold on a limited-edition basis.”