Sarees?? Being an Indian, we all have heard this word since childhood, right?
That’s one attire worn by almost everybody. My love for sarees is quite known on the social media. I’ve previously worn them here, there & everywhere (wooaahh that’s a lot!). I have a pretty decent collection of sarees already, so in order to do justice to my growing collection, and not have those how-many-will-you-shop-for???? accusations thrown at me by my mom, I wear them for any and every occasion possible. Yes, sometimes they are difficult to manage and not the most comfortable attire to be running around in. And it’s hard to not give in and wear a comfortable pair of jeans and tee, but that doesn’t stop me from loving (a.k.a buying) them!
My search for buying good Indian sarees online ended with unnatisilks.com, an online ethnic store with a wide array of sarees and salwar suits.
Unnati Silks is a saga of ‘HANDLOOMS FOR WOMEN’ that began in 1980. Three decades hence it has transformed from a single shop entity to become a family enterprise with extended arms and global operations. Customer – Centric that it is, Unnati Silks anticipates, innovates and provides with a strong belief that each and every customer is special and requires that something, which is unique, refreshing, fashionable and of quality.
An experience of three decades plus in silk and cotton textiles Unnati has carved out a niche presence for itself in being the manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer and exporter of genuine silk cotton handlooms like sarees, salwar suits, kurtas, kurtis, and other Indian ethnic fabrics. This has thereby created for it, a sizable domestic market from across the country and overseas.
Having a product range that is as varied as it is vast, handwoven and handcrafted, the devotion and dedication of talented ethnic artisans from across 21 states of India come through in the products on display. Having the Handloom Mark and Silk Mark for most of its products, Unnati’s customers are assured a legitimate backing too, despite being guaranteed original handloom products from the start.
The Team Leader and guiding light of Unnati Silks
Mr. Devendra Gopal Ladha is the CEO & Managing Director of the business entity called Unnati Silk Prints Pvt. Ltd. Popularly known as the pioneer and founding member of his brainchild Unnati Silks, he has nurtured a single room effort in handlooms, begun in 1980, which today has blossomed into a well-managed family enterprise with global operations.
The early days
Armed with an M.Sc. Gold Medal in Chemistry, sights on a career in Medicine, Mr. Ladha was all set to the beginning of a promising career and the dedicated life of a medical practitioner. Fate willed otherwise and a family situation cropped up that saw him drop his dreams and instead choose some other calling. It required a firm bent of mind and resolute will that saw him embark upon a journey to seek his luck in textiles. He has had no regrets at any time regarding the decision, instead of feeling that Fate had lent him a helping hand in settling for something that has clearly paid off tremendously.
Handlooms – a passion for life
Right from his student days, he had developed a love for handlooms; fabrics that he considered as pure, having a smooth touch and vibrant feel. Distant relatives were already in the business of selling fabrics, most of which were handlooms. He was very much taken in by the traditional processes of Bagru & Dabu, the vibrancy of their colors, the efficacy of the hand block, the sharpness and detail of the prints, and of course with his love for Indian ethnic, he had a soft corner for the traditional artistry that ethnic practitioners displayed in the cotton and silk fabrics but as he felt ‘never got their place in the sun’ for the marvelous offerings that they created.
The Unnati Silks journey
In the 1980s weavers worked on silk and cotton threads, were conventional in outlook and wove limited design fabrics. Art Silks at that time were mass-produced, had plenty of designer fare and were quite cheap. Conventional handloom fabrics were fast losing a battle, not of their calling but a situation that threatened their very existence. It was in 1980 that Mr. Ladha had started his journey in textiles with a single-minded effort and a small room in Hyderabad to do something worthwhile in a well-established world of fabrics, where he was a relative greenhorn in a market already having big & not so big players.
It is said – ‘when you have nothing much to lose except your face, you have every chance to gain if you bear the strain’. Unnati Silks, as it was named, started doing business slowly and surely with its small sales and big contracts that grew over the next few years. The single room became several rooms and led to becoming a store – a destination for shoppers interested in handlooms and the small variety that it offered under one roof.
Mr.Ladha travelled a lot, many a time over days, covering rural destinations that had weavers and traditional craftsmen, who eked out their existence through the making of silk and cotton handlooms that took time to weave, got little remuneration, faced the brunt of cheaper arty fabrics and kept on doing what they knew in silent misery and a hope for better days to come. He observed the limited designs, the lack of variety, the ignorance of getting their products sold reasonably.
A brainwave struck him, where he felt Unnati could contribute to the handloom effort through a direct engagement with the weaver. Unnati would suggest the ideas of color, designs and other info that hinted at market tastes, the weaver would translate them into fine count handloom weaves that would fetch them a respectable livelihood while Unnati would gain from the authentic goods. The idea that Mr.Ladha had in mind bore fruit when some weavers wove some of the designs in the colors he suggested that were current and catchy. The outcomes on silk and cotton were novel and created a stir by their changed look. Unnati Silks no longer remained an idea. It became a reality. It was the start of a long-standing relationship that has endured in time till date, a bond that will not break easily. Since then associated with talented master weavers in ethnic fabrics across India, he has helped in his own small way in the revival of traditional weaves. Through Unnati Silks he has afforded them a global platform for the continued display of their skills and a decent livelihood.
Unnati under Mr.Ladha and his strong team of 200 plus, has grown from strength to strength over the years, added landmarks like offline stores at Hyderabad, added a manufacturing unit, printing units, an online website in its ‘Unnati’ or progress ahead. But has never given up its passion for handlooms nor changed its vision of contributing in the nation’s effort to better the conditions of the ethnic practitioner.
The ISKCON connection
Mr.Devender Gopal Ladha also happens to be a philosopher and learned scholar with a deep knowledge of Vedic scriptures. Actively associated with International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) founded by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. Mr.Ladha has been a preacher of Krishna Consciousness philosophy and love of Godhead for the past twenty years in his neighborhood ISKCON temple. He has also been regularly delivering lectures on various subjects concerning morality and the scriptures to audiences in corporate hospitals, large government organizations, schools, colleges, and private institutions in Hyderabad and other places in India.
There have been a lot of hardships in his arduous, yet fruitful journey till date, and he firmly acknowledges the Divine presence in his life that has kept him going. He is blessed with a devoted and supportive family, including three talented children who are already following in his footsteps and handling portions of the business. A talented team of two hundred plus in tow and the zeal to do much more for ethnic fabrics, he has lined up many more projects for the cause.
In passing, Mr.Ladha has also represented Andhra Pradesh for water sports in the year 1987. Adventurous by nature, Karate, River rafting, Skydiving, and Surfing are his other sport loves and in spite of a hectic life managing the business, he tries a hand at them, whenever he can.
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