Dr. Sajimon Parayil: The Khadi Campaigner
Khadi is very close to an Indian’s heart. It still carries all the essences of the freedom movement of the country.
The fabric is much revered, and is worn with passion across the subcontinent. Unfortunately, the industry is not doing well. The youth has long gone away from the Khadi clothing. But, not everybody is thinking so. Meet Dr. Sajimon Parayil, the multifaceted business magnate and fashion icon who is determined to bring Khadi back to the limelight. Sparas, one of the ventures he is spearheading, is a click and brick model to bring khadi available to your doorsteps. Dr. Sajimon Parayil also heads the Bits Group, which has presence all over the Middle-East, South Asia and Europe. He is now called the Khadi-man for all his efforts to uplift Khadi craftsman and bring this great fabric of our country back to the glory it had before.
Unique Times in a short chat with Dr. Sajimon Parayil ponders more about his campaign for Khadi.
What do you think is the future of Khadi?
Khadi is a great piece of fabric. It is handwoven mostly by rural artisans. It is not very expensive. It is available everywhere. It is probably the most suitable fabric for the Indian sub-continent because it adapts to the climatic conditions – it stays cool in summer and gives us warmth when it’s cold. I don’t think any other fabric in this world has a nationalistic flavour to it. Khadi clothing still receives a fair share of respect as it is always worn by prominent members of the society.
I see a great future for Khadi, accepting the fact that the youth of the nation still keep khadi away except for festivals and ceremonies. It is certainly because the khadi has not evolved to cater to the needs of the younger generation. I expect more designer labels and brands to come out with a khadi line. Somehow, you cannot stay away from this wonderful piece of fabric which also embodies the great traditions of this nation.
This is exactly what I envisioned when I launched Sparas – to be in tandem with the demands of the consumer, especially youth who has the sort of purchasing power. It is a joy to see them wear the products of Sparas. I am committed to bring new designers and fashion labels to make them adopt khadi into their main product line.
How will Sparas change the game in this Khadi sector?
Well, we don’t want to be the game-changer here, but we want to show a different angle about its marketing. The khadi sector is a place where there is a lot of exploitation by middlemen. The handloom weavers who toil all the days get only peanuts. A mundu or a Veshti, which costs around 1800-2000 rupees in a retail showroom, will only get the weaver 180 rupees or so. This is one aspect where I want Sparas to be a game-changer (if you can call it that way).
Another aspect where Sparas is concentrating is to develop organic products – currently, our products use natural dyes and are produced in organic methods.
Apart from all of these, the marketing has to be extraordinary to appease and woo customers. You also need to have a neat supply network to get the products delivered to the customer. Sparas.com is an online store, where customers can purchase our latest products and get them delivered to their doorstep. We are probably the first in private sector to campaign for khadi products, especially in a large scale. My dream is to make this exceptional piece of clothing available in the global market and make it real big.
How are you going to achieve this dream of making khadi available globally?
My first objective is to empower the artisans, especially the tribal people who can produce traditional designs in clothing and other related products. I like to make a self-sustainable village called a Khadi Gramam or a Khadi village where all kinds of artisans can showcase their talent and Sparas will market it globally. Probably, it’s the only way these artisans can be paid fairly for their talent.
We are organizing a workshop for artisans in Wayanad Kerala, where the recent floods have played havoc. We are associating with certain NGO’s to make the workshop a huge success. Further, we will be conducting this workshops all over India to study and source products, and preserve India’s valuable artistic traditions in the hands of our artisans by sustaining them.
On the other side, Sparas will be in the forefront of e-commerce trading. We will be opening new showrooms in Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode and, even, in Bahrain, apart from the one we have in Ernakulam. We deliver to almost all pin codes in India – thanks to our sales platforms in Flipkart and Amazon.
How important is the Organic and Eco friendly process in the khadi sector?
Khadi is a product, which has its roots firm in the soil of this great country. We promote organic and eco -friendly business. Our products are packaged in jute bags or khadi cloth covers. No business can envision their future without opting to adopt sustainable practices. We are happy and proud that we are focusing on sustainable options right from the word go.
You are well known for your positive inputs to fashion industry. As a fashion icon, what do you think of Khadi?
I certainly believe that Khadi has a great future in the fashion industry. As I said before, this exceptional piece of fabric with all its nuances will be joy to work with for designers. I wish to organise a fashion show with prominent labels showcasing khadi.
Where do you think government support should come in?
Governments have been supporting khadi sector for a long time now, but, sadly, the sector is in shambles. Apart from a few success stories, we mostly hear about the misery of these artisans. Governments will have to promote khadi in schools, other educational institutions and offices.
Sparas is a brand of the future, and Dr Sajimon Parayil is walking ahead of times. It is most sure that with his business expertise and stint in the fashion industry he will make khadi clothing in demand globally. India will need entrepreneurs like him to bring back the glory of all forgotten crafts and scientific expertise of this country to the forefront.