Since Seek Collective’s beginning, we have always prioritized bringing our work to the specific regions where each craft is traditionally practiced. To produce this way requires some extra transportation and a lot of extra planning, but it also means that we are never working with factories in big polluted cities whose workers have to live in less than ideal settings, leaving their families behind in their hometowns. It also means supporting communities with rich craft heritages and partnering with business owners who are dedicated to producing responsibly. We never work with anyone until we have visited and vetted their workplace to make sure it is up to all our standards. For us at Seek Collective, it is important that there are safe and clean working conditions at every step of the process, no matter what city, town, village, or country they are in.
Often people speak about responsible apparel manufacturing and focus on where stitching happens. But stitching is only the last step in the supply chain, and at times garments are claimed to have been “made” at a particular place when only the label has been sewn on there. Where the fibers come from, where they are woven, where they are dyed or printed, etc., all matters equally. We believe it is important to be able to speak to all of these locations.
India is an incredibly large country, and each region has a diverse array of traditions that are uniquely its own. We have built a strong network of ethically-run businesses and local craftsmen with whom we work—every place and every person is close to our hearts. We hope this overview helps you understand where each part of our supply chain is carried out, and why it is so special.
Rajasthan is a desert state in northwest India and is full of color, history, bustling cities, jewel cutting, and textiles. The capital, Jaipur, is nicknamed the Pink City as all of the buildings in the old city center are painted a special pinky salmon shade.
The history of hand block printing dates back over 400 years in this region, so it’s fitting that Rajasthan is also where the Seek Collective journey began in 2012. We started in the Jaipur and Bagru areas with block printing. We have worked with a few different families in this area and it has been an incredible learning experience.
Further south in this state near a large lake, we partner with an NGO called Sadhna to create our Gudri quilts each year. The stitching is done in an urban area of the city, and the hand quilting is done with groups of women from rural villages.
Madhya Pradesh is located in central India, and the Narmada River runs through it, which is considered one of the holiest rivers in the country. We first started working with an incredible group of handloom weavers located in a town along this very river. The river bank is particularly magical at sunrise or sunset when walking along all the ancient temples.
We now predominantly work with a non-profit located in the center of the state dedicated to lifting up communities of weavers who have history through generations of this craft. This central region is famous for all the oranges they grow. When working here, we find ourselves in rural areas that require full days of travel to get to. The journey is always worth it, and the visits are always special and full of chai.
Maharashtra is one of India’s more well-known regions, as this is the state where Mumbai is located. But our work here with natural dying is located in the very southern region, where most tourists have not set foot. The area is remote, jungle-like, pristine, and peaceful. There are not a lot of options for places to stay nearby, but it is one of our favorite places to visit. A herd of water buffalo live on the natural dyers’ property, and there are often large amounts of goats traveling by. Best of all are the people with whom we have long discussions about the importance of sustainability over home cooked Indian meals.
Karnataka is a state in the southwest of India. It is home to famous temples, ashtanga yoga, a booming tech industry, lush landscapes, and lots of sandalwood. All of our silk comes from this region, where the silk industry dates back hundreds of years. The studio where our embroidery is brought to life and where almost all of our stitching is done is located in Bangalore, Karnataka’s capital city. We also recently began partnering with a woman run block printing business located in Bangalore. Bangalore, or Bengaluru, is also called “the Garden City.” There is an epic flower market located here—a must see if you are ever in the area.