Ranjini & Leela
About Ranjini and Leela
We create our line using sustainable, repurposed/upcycled fabric and carefully curated vintage saris and kimono. Our current line comprises bags, coasters, scrunchies and jewelry. All one of a kind, handmade and unique. And we’re constantly thinking of new ways to use our fabulous fabrics!
I am Ranjini. My constant support, my friend, my darling mother is Leela. My sleeping partner as she prefers to call herself.
Ranjini and Leela is also a metaphor. Leela means play. I wanted this venture to be about fun with the creative process as well as environmental responsibility. And therefore too, we are Ranjini and Leela.
Why and why now
I believe that as creators and consumers we need to stop turning a blind eye to the products we use.
As far as is possible,
We must change the way we consume goods.
We must know where what we use comes from.
We must know who made them. We must know if they were paid a fair wage to make them and working conditions that wouldn’t make us cringe with shame.
We must educate ourselves about whether the environment was impacted badly by the making of the item we buy.
I feel strongly about waste in all areas of my life. About the amount we generate, about living with less and wasting less.
And I love textiles.
Unfortunate that those two don’t often go well together in today’s world.
Our landfills are aching under the burden of discarded clothing and textiles products that cannot be used even by the poorest of the poor because of the sheer volume generated every year.
Our environment, our the earth groans under the chemical onslaught of the waste generated by the textile industry in the production of conventional fabrics.
The fashion industry and the textile industry as a whole are known for flagrant human rights violations—unfair labor practices, deplorable working conditions and more.
From this love of textiles and a passion about the environment and human rights, Ranjini and Leela was born.
There are ways to create beautiful, lasting things making use of raw materials—in our case, fabrics—that are kind to the earth. There are ways to make sure the raw materials we use have not caused unhappiness or misery either to people or to the environment.
Which leads me to raw materials.
Our raw materials while being unique are either vintage or ethically made, fair trade and eco-friendly.
These are the broad categories our raw materials fall into:
1. Fabrics manufactured in the US and made from used plastic bottles or organic canvas or hemp blends.
2. Handspun silk such as Khadi and ahimsa silk such as Tusser silk from India. Our silk is sourced from Government of India supported co-ops to ensure fair wages to the artisans.
3. Curated fabrics from past seasons sourced from interior designers that might otherwise have found their way into landfills. Many of these are conventionally produced. They are an eco-friendly raw material only because they were rescued from landfill.
4. Fabric remnants, last few yards from bolts. And found fabrics. These too have an unknown provenance. They fit our criteria because they are of no use for most other projects and would most likely be thrown away.
5. Vintage saris, sari fragments and kimono silk
6. Vintage trim materials
7. Vintage linen.
8. As far as possible, we also use recycled thread (thread made from plastic bottles for all our sewing)
9. Cork, vegan or repurposed leather. I went back and forth on leather and weighed it. The conclusion was that unless it is repurposed or vintage leather, we will only use cork leather (which is sourced from the cork tree bark and is not harmful to the tree. Or vegan leather.)
Our artistic philosophy is Wabi Sabi.
Wabi sabi, the art of finding beauty in imperfection and profoundness in earthiness and authenticity is our artistic basis.
Loosely translated, "wabi" is simplicity, whether elegant or rustic; "sabi" means the beauty of age and wear.
Leonard Koren, author of "Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers," said "Wabi sabi is the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete, the antithesis of the classical Western notion of beauty as something perfect, enduring, and monumental."
Given that we use repurposed and vintage materials, there will be some flaws in them. Given also the handmade nature of the product, it won't have that sleek, perfect machine made look. This isn't a result of slip shod work. Just accepting that nature is imperfect as is a handmade item made from vintage materials. But that makes it so much more beautiful and unique than a mass produced item.
Aiming for zero waste:
Sewing products even if the raw materials are sustainable, produces fabric remnants.
We use some remnants in our line, some are used to create twine to wrap the product before we ship it.
The tiniest pieces are used to fill throw pillows and used as fill in our silk beads.
Several remnants have found their way into experimental art works made by my son and me.
Thank you for considering our work. Should you buy a piece, we know you will enjoy that Ranjini and Leela creation for years to come.
Our set of values:
Vintage, reclaimed raw materials
Recycled raw materials
Organic raw materials
Fair wage paid to workers involved in various stages of production
Low waste production
One of a kind
Sustainable packaging (recycled boxes, biodegradable tissue paper, hemp cord to wrap)
Ranjini and Leela