Amidst the hustle and bustle of the thriving village of Arpora, Goa quaintly located behind the popular Baba Woods Cafe lies a fashion and design hub like none other. Armed with a catchy slogan “The Weird and the Wonderful”, one may indeed expect to find a surreal selection of items at a boutique store with this lofty a promise. In many ways, you wouldn’t be wrong either; a stroll into Fashion Labels, Arpora is nothing short of hypnagogic, as you are bombarded with a series of classy boutique furnishings. Backed with an extensive background in home design, Goan raised entrepreneur Jyoti Jahnavi Saxena dreamed this project into existence with the aim of bringing skilled artisans from across the country together under one roof.
As a child and grand-daughter to two proud freedom fighters of Goa, Jyoti Jahnavi is a Goan in every sense of the word. Nevertheless, she sought to make a name for herself and spent a good deal of time studying and honing her skills across the country. After heading the Customer Relationship Management unit of a U.S. based I.T. firm in Bangalore and thereafter playing the role of Assistant Producer at Balaji Telefilms, Mumbai, Jyoti looked within herself and sought to find herself through ventures of her own. This thirst for growth and self-fulfillment inevitably led her back home to Goa where her entrepreneurial journey began.
When she moved to Goa, Jyoti faced a great deal of difficulty in finding furnishing options that would best suit her home. Other friends too confessed to facing a similar dilemma and would often ask her to aid them in decorating and making soft furnishing choices for their homes. It is at this juncture that the idea for creating a one-stop-shop for creative home furnishings a.k.a. Fashion Labels began to take root.
Unlike your average interior design store, Fashion Labels constantly houses the very latest trends in home decor that stays neck-to-neck with the industry. In keeping with her vision, however, Jyoti wanted to bring a piece of her heritage to Goa. Moreover, touched by cultures from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, Jyoti’s collection does not adhere to any one style alone. Rather, every piece found at Fashion Labels speaks of her experiences, India’s diverse ethnicities and their unique aesthetics and the Bed and Basket story is born.
From her ancestral home Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, which has not been used by the family for years, Jyoti is trying to revive the art of Sabai, Moonj grass and Water Reed Basketry with help from her mother. These techniques of weaving, which had been passed down in families through generations are being forgotten as most families were finding it hard to sustain this cottage industry. Jyoti tells us that “These traditional products used to be easily available in the market and often given as gifts at weddings are now fast disappearing. I wanted to help the people of my hometown and hoped that they would be self-sufficient enough without letting this artform die out. The idea is that the artisans can work from home with no overheads and still earn a decent wage to sustain their families. At Fashion Labels, we aim to showcase their talents and products and make them easily available to the rest of India via digital selling platforms too “
The basket story is an extensive collection of contemporary designs using old weaving techniques. Fashion Labels is also incorporating other materials such as Bamboo, Jute, Kanua grass and Dori (thread work) into their modern designs of basket weaving and much more. Jyoti has taken this a step further and is also promoting recycled plastic baskets, also made from her hometown and other rural artisans of India. There is a large selection of grass wall pieces and art and not just the baskets at their Arpora store. Cratering to other states as well Fashion Labels is also incorporating shells from Goa into their basket work. They are also using coconuts for table tops to help promote environmentally savvy furniture.
The bed story part of the store hopes to help rejuvenate the handloom elements by creating exquisite handmade quilts, bed sheets and other bed linen for any modern home by using techniques such as Ikat, Jaipuri and Kanta work. The quilts or comforters can also be customized and carry themes should any customer require it form monograms to animal motifs for the kids. Fashion Labels- wholesales and manufacturers by Jyoti Jahnavi Saxena is about bridging the gap between remote villagers who have preserved their rich tradition, handicraft skills and have handed them down from generation to generation and the outside world that is still exploring hidden treasures of rural India.