Kasab is an organization started in 1978 by Hansa Jhaveri to promote the production and marketing of traditional Indian textiles. Hansa, who is now an energetic 75 year old, has always had a connection with handmade crafts, particularly textiles. A talented artist and designer herself, she is experienced in oil painting, cane and bamboo weaving and interior design. Traveling all over India in the course of her career, she met and forged enduring relationships with small local textile producers who were using traditional weaving, dyeing and block-printing methods on natural cotton and silk fabrics. Sadly, the demand for their products was shrinking as cheaper, machine made synthetics flooded the market. Promoting and preserving these traditional arts became a passion for Hansa and she founded Kasab, which aptly means‘excellent craftsmanship’. With a showroom in Mumbai, the largest urban center in India, Hansa felt she could begin to create a larger and more sustainable market for struggling textile artisans.
Starting with 6 groups of artisans scattered across the primarily rural states of Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Gujarat,Hansa began designing products to suit the modern urban lifestyle while adhering to traditional production methods. Her artisans create everyday items such as bedspreads, table linens and scarves for the domestic and export market. Natural fibers, vegetable dyes, traditional floral and geometric designs and muted color schemes are characteristic of Kasab’s product lines. So popular have these products become, that three decades later, Kasab now works with over thirty artisan groups, some of which employ more than 100 workers. Hansa continues to provide design input and to visit her artisan groups on a regular basis for consultation and support. The fact that some of these groups have worked with Hansa for so many years, is testimony to the respect they have for her and the appreciation they feel for her efforts in making their businesses successful.
When asked how long she plans to continue working, Hansa responds, “In my opinion the creation of the hand loom is as big a development as the discovery of atomic energy! I have no plans to retire anytime soon.” Her artisan producers and loyal customers will continue to benefit from Hansa Jhaveri’s creative and peaceful campaign to promote Indian textiles for many years to come.