Express news service
How many of us have walked into a house we spent our childhood in, only to find a suitcase (or more) filled with memories and countless other keepsakes reminding us of a bygone era? Often times, mothers are the official keepers of these memory chests, forever keeping baby clothes or even tiny tangible tokens to help them preserve the nostalgic moments of their children’s past.
However, although associated with vague reminiscences of the past, these unused garments often have a shortened lifespan and suffer damage when put away in storage. Fortunately for these mothers, two Delhi-NCR companies have found a solution to safeguard clothing memories by turning them into memory quilts.
A creative process
Manisha Desai (40) and her sister Ayesha Desai (43) are like most other siblings; they kept a trunk full of souvenir clothes – the quintessential college T-shirt, a shirt reminding them of, among other things, their roommates.
Manisha remembers: “It was at our home in Belgaum, Karnataka, when I was based in Pune. I remember my mom threatening us to throw away our old clothes (in 2016), and we created a ruckus to protest her decision. Finally, I decided to transform these clothes so that they didn’t need to be thrown away. “
Having no design background, Manisha spent the next few months looking into a sewing machine in an effort to add utility value to these worn garments. Eventually, through trial and error, she created her first quilt from memory.
“It was a hit with friends and family,” said the former professional social worker from Pune, adding that “it snowballed from there, and before I knew it I was busy making some coins for friends here “. One thing led to another, and in no time, the Desai sisters co-founded Cornucopia Concepts, a company that turns memories into quilts and bedspreads.
Manisha notes: “We work with clothes that people don’t want to part with because they have memories attached to it. While we started making memory quilts by collecting segments of baby clothes, we also used everything from adult t-shirts to pants. , and sometimes fabric waste from shops. We also create themed embroidery quilts. Three years ago, we introduced sustainable corporate gifts by organizing products from fair trade companies. “
With a workshop in the Garden Estate of Gurugram (they were operating from Pune before 2017), Cornucopia offers a pick-up service to residents of Delhi-NCR. One piece of the brand, Manisha informs, is priced at Rs7,500 for a 4 x 6 foot quilt and may increase depending on the size of the blanket.
Having sold around 5,000 pieces since their inception, we ask Manisha how she is trying to reduce her brand’s carbon footprint. She says, “We have garbage produced from these clothes. So we shred them and convert them into yarn to make dhurries. With larger waste, we make bags that serve as packaging for the dhurrie.
The business of nostalgia has proven to be marketable. Manisha reiterates this thought by informing us that while there is not too much demand for quilts and products recycled from waste fabrics, the demand for memory quilts is quite high.
But, another product that consumers are looking for are mourning quilts, and a number of those claims were received after COVID. “It is often difficult to work on it and it is a great responsibility to do justice to those memories. But we feel honored that families trust us to convert their memories and use them for the rest of their lives,” a- he declared.
Is it part of the stories told by families? She agrees: “Yes! Whether it’s a little baby, a deceased spouse or grandparent, we are part of those stories. And we try to represent the memories to the fullest. . “
A visual profession
Fashion designer by training, Rashi Malik (38) remembers making the first memory blanket for her sister: “She was in London and I made a custom blanket for her with her child’s baby clothes. all of these stories and the whole process was extremely visual. “
It was then that Faridabad-based Malik decided to start Mum-entos, creating baby quilts from a small workshop in his parents’ basement in Jangpura. Over time, she has expanded her business over the years; she now creates toys from old clothes, with the exception of name buntings, name rings, treadmills, cushions and pillow cases.
Speaking about how these blankets lend tactility to memories, Malik said, “These blankets, when layered on a bed, often feature childhood stories or other fond memories. It’s just another way for a child to read about his or her own life. It quickly becomes a graduation gift or even something parents can keep in their old age. “
In order to add a touch of personalization to these covers, Malik makes it a point of honor to incorporate everything from the child’s first school identity card, to the first rakhi, to the escort cards used by members of the family to see the child after birth in the hospital, and other such memories.
A Mum-entos blanket for a toddler starts at Rs 5,900. Malik mentions: “We create tangible memories – unlike an online scrapbook – which helps put all the little pieces of beautiful memories together.” One of the many satisfactions of this company, says Malik, is the fact that it uses its design aesthetic to visualize and plan the end product.
She says, “My clients appreciate being able to contact me personally and discuss their needs. I do all the cutting and layout work myself and make sure that each garment is fused and processed according to its fiber content. the end product is important to me. This is where my fashion design degree helps me the most – not only to make sure the product is visually appealing, but also technically sound. “
The whole process, says Malik, relies on innovation and emotion, “The part that I enjoy most about my job is listening to all the amazing stories parents share about their children – on day one. school or when they left for their first vacation … I try to capture those little stories in the details of the clothes. “
However, there have been a few difficult projects. For example, two years ago she created a blanket set for a mother in Hong Kong who had lost her five-year-old son. Malik remembers, “She had clung to all of her clothes for three years trying to deal with her grief. We met at her house where she finally took out the boxes of clothes. Using them, she wanted me to make clothes. blankets for his daughter and younger sons – a gift from their older brother to them – to remember him. “
With a focus on sustainability in all sectors globally, how receptive are Indians to recycled products? “On the contrary, sustainability is ingrained in us as part of our cultural values. We just never came up with a fancy term like recycling for it – the West has patented a centuries-old concept,” she says.
There is nothing better than to offer something beautiful and lasting, which goes beyond a digital document – we never throw away old things out of respect, out of nostalgia or sometimes just because we do. helps us feel close to the good old days. “