Durga Puja was nearing and Maa asked me, “While I am getting clothes for kids and others ordered from e-commerce sites, what would I do for Sarees”. This is said in backdrop of the Corona pandemic when going out for shopping and that too, for elderly people is completely unadvisable at one hand, while on the other gifting clothes to family and relatives on the auspicious occasion of Durga Puja is a generational ritual which for my mother-in-law is non-negotiable. There were few basic problem statements associated with buying Sarees online which she was referring to:
a) Can Sarees be purchased Online?
b) There is a sea mismatch between Quality expectation & availability on conventional e-commerce sites catering Fashion & Lifestyle
c) Are there enough selection options or weave varieties available for some of the otherwise recognised brands which has got some kind of online presence?
Browsing through, I realised that while Sarees can be purchased online but the fabric quality, weave variety etc. which an ardent Saree lover would want, is difficult to be spotted. Nonetheless, I have stepped out with my husband to a known store in the neighbourhood, and purchased the list of Sarees as suggested by my mother-in-law.
He asked me, sitting next to me in our flight to Delhi, do you think Sarees have got a substantial & trusted online presence and importantly online audience, I said No & Yes, respectively. Someone who deeply love Sarees, I was all queries which would have been visible in my eyes. He then, quietly looked the otherside. I brought this up straightaway whilst in the cab. He asked me would I be willing to start-up something around Sarees, and with a conviction in my voice, I said “definitely YES”. Coming from a family of women who love their Sarees much as that of the jewelleries. I knew about the varied weaves from across India, which I have acquired especially from my Mother and Aunts, my husband was little astonished. In all my excitement I narrated him the stories from my childhood wherein I would sit next to my mother and aunts when a Jeevan kaku or a Jhunu aunty would come home with Handwoven Sarees of all varieties and I would quietly sit and learn the stories and detail of the weaves, the embroideries, and the fabric. With a glee, I told him the list of Sarees from across states that occupies my wardrobe.
Spent the next few weeks doing detailed research on storefront, discovery, finances, incorporation, competition, customers & their preferences, and most importantly the diverse weave varieties that India proudly owns. We want to be the bridge between weavers and buyers. The next big question was where to procure the Sarees, whom to procure from, what to procure. To stitch the idea, played devil’s advocate, “How would the originality of the weave or purity of the fabric be ascertained”, “How would the potential customers be convinced of the same” and there were lists of such queries everyday that we would consider. I spent hours and days reading and researching on every possible query or aspect of retailing a Saree. We would connect to 10 and more different weavers everyday and discuss the minute details.
All these and more, and then we have decided that we will be catering Handloom Sarees, Pure Fabric whether it is a variety Silk, a cotton, Silk by Cotton or Cotton by Silk. I would emphasise that we will work with original design, so to say weave/design patterns would be picked from its origin. And yes while we will bring traditional weaves to the buyers, we definitely will embrace everything new.
“BAYAN-Silpi” is a Bengali word meaning Weaver, I picked up Bayan from there and Pro from ”PROfessional”, means one who’s skilled and experienced. Humbled to coin the word, which then formed our brand name “PROBAYAN”. We would have discussed ‘N’ number of names but I thought we were waiting for Probayan and as luck would have it, we got the domain name, too.
Probayan Weaves Private Limited, is definitely a commercial venture but for us it is our Dream, something that we deeply believe in! We want to increase our Sales, but we would be happier, if we could cater diverse weave varieties to incumbent consumers, if we could add more to the family of Saree lovers, if we could make people love and crave for handmade Sarees, if we could cater purest of the thread, fine fabric, if we can make ladies recognise and like original designs and embroideries and motifs which tell stories of generations and geographies, if we can colour the Fabric to the buyers expectation, if we can cater sarees for all occasions, if we can bring newness, design fusion and more. We envision to craft out a society where someone from Delhi would wear a Baluchari Silk of Bengal, someone from Central India would wear a Chettinaad, a Rajasthani woman draped in a Begampuri Saree, someone from Madurai wearing a Motka silk and a Kantha stich being embraced by a Gujarati woman. A Bomki or a Sambhalpuri to be recognised as much as a Banarasi. We want to create community of Banarasi lovers who would pay a premium but then buy only an original 6 yards.
While catering original Sarees, the endeavour of Probayan, would also be to connect weavers and potential buyers directly, and in the bargain come up with unparalleled price.
Stay Tuned with Probayan and we promise to give you Joy with our serenely pretty 6 Yards and more!