Few hugs and kisses were exchanged in 2020. For endless days and months, we yearned for the sound of laughter, energetic chatter and the simplicity of sharing a meal together as an I was a Sari family. For many of our artisans, lockdown meant camping out at homes with no social distancing, sharing sleeping spaces and bathrooms, unable to escape the sort of domestic situations that brought them to us in the first place. With the understanding of how difficult this situation is for them, we continued paying all our team, including artisans, through the lockdown, even when the production was at a stand-still.
In June, when the nationwide lockdown was lifted, those who lived close to our production centers and had sewing machines at home, came to collect materials from the NGO centers we partner with and worked from home. Sadly, others migrated to their hometowns and have not returned yet.
In terms of image and global-reach, the restrictions brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic offered us a breather to focus on the rebirth of our brand across digital and social media. Our communications and management team liaised online across Europe and Asia to craft a united message that we hope will resonate industry-wide. With a revamped website with new digital polish, our sales have been boosted by an increased demand for the type of leisure and loungewear our artisans so expertly purvey with soul and spirit. Just perfect for work-from-home dressing!
The global team that worked on this project with the I was a Sari team, comprised of Emanuela Ferrandi, creative designer who designed our visual strategy. ELS Agency who’ve crafted the voice guidelines. Sofia Celeste who is implementing the voice of I was a Sari in our texts through her copywriting skills. Claudio Limina is our social media strategist. Chiara Goia, the super talented photographer who captured I was a Sari products in their true essence. Niki Gomez our marketing and brand advisor who worked closely on the project with her expertise in strategy. Consuelo Funari styled and planned the shoot in her impeccable taste and style. H.edge supported us with our brand trajectory that led to what we call our up-branding project.
Social and Environmental Impact 2020
We also reached new highs, thanks to the support from our clients who really believe in the project and support us and in turn the women we work with. We worked with 170 artisans, up by 37 percent from 2019. Our team of artisans clocked 24 percent more working hours in 2020 to a total of 150,909. We up-cycled 56,758 saris totaling 227,033 square meters of whimsical re-purposed fabric. We also donated 3,500 kilos of scraps and offcuts to Goonj, a leading NGO that creates sanitary pads and toys out of left-over scraps.
Soul-wise, we changed a lot too. For the first time, we watched as the wrath of the deadly pandemic claimed lives around the world. We mourned the losses of friends, family, and pillars of society. We stood in horror as we watched the social unrest spurred by political missteps, egoism, and prejudice, as the sort of brutal violence we thought was long gone, re-emerged around the world. As an environmentally conscious, ethically motivated organization, our sincere hope is that in building a more circular industry and in enriching the lives of those around us, 2021 beckons not only a better year but a better world.
And perhaps Arundhati Roy, the Indian author best known for her novel The God of Small Things synthesized what happened in India just after the first lockdown described this era best (https://www.ft.com/content/10d8f5e8-74eb-11ea-95fe-fcd274e920ca, Financial Times, April 2020).
“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. The pandemic is a portal. Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.
We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks, and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”
We at I was a Sari in many ways have crossed that portal, doing our bit for the people and the planet and contributing to a better world on the other side of the pandemic and hoping many more will come forward and join in!