Her passion to popularise Mizoram’s traditional paun fabric and weaving technique in the international market has led 37-year old Siami Pachuau to overcome all challenges and take her products to the shops of Australia, Switzerland and Germany. Spare a few minutes to know her amazing work……
Based in Aizawl in Mizoram, Siami (nicknamed Kuki) always wanted to run a business of her own. She was born and brought up in Shillong as her parents worked there. Her father was a professor of economics and her mother taught philosophy. Her elder sister is an IITian and currently working as a software engineer while her younger sister has done PhD in psychology. Siami, is the only person in her family who is in a non academic field. Being an academically bright student herself, after completing her schooling she enrolled herself at NIFT but in the final year of her course she left it to accept a job offer she had got. After working for a year she set up a small fashion studio in Delhi to deliver t-shirts to colleges. However, her interest in paun fabric and a dream to take that to the international market brought her to her home state Mizoram.
Her handloom venture
Being passionate about using traditional weaving Siami wanted to make it a tool for empowerment by making it popular through modern fashion design. She founded Siami x Siami five years back. In the first three years she conducted extensive training sessions for tailors and weavers of her community. “Traditional weaving is something that almost all women of our community know. But they do not know the art of manufacturing in bulk. Again, they had to be trained on producing expert quality material that would suit the international market. When I started I had no money for buying machines. After imparting training I spent the next one year in fundraising. There was a need to change the mindset of people in using natural hand-woven fabrics as these are costlier compared to the artificial machine fabrics. Finally, people were convinced to use natural fabrics from 2019. Thus my journey started amid a lot of struggles and challenges but just as we were one year into production, Covid set in bringing the entire business to a standstill,” Siami told chalgenius.com.
The one-year of Covid pandemic was the biggest challenge
“There was no way in which we could go ahead with our manufacturing. My biggest challenge was to ensure that all my staff remained employed. I shifted them to my restaurant start-up that I had started three years back,” said Siami. Although the dining facilities at the restaurant had to be closed down, the home delivery system that was started was a big success. On the other hand, the production had to be postponed.
Siami x Siami
The company uses hand-woven textiles to make contemporary jackets, bags and other products. Initially, the products were exported to Singapore, Australia and Germany. Later on, products were also shipped to Japan, Canada and UK. However, after Covid set in, plans are on to sell the products within India.
Along with the handloom and restaurant startups, she runs a packaging startup. “In the changed circumstances post Covid, I want to run all the three startups together. I want to now start delivering my handloom products online. In Mizoram, connectivity and transportation are not smooth so online delivery might be difficult,” she said.
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