The 'us' in the title is really just one person - me, Beverley Bloxham.
I use 'the royal we' as it makes Kasu sound like a huge business, but in fact, it is a one woman micro-business in Central Victoria, Australia. Also I dislike using 'I' all the time.
But here, I will use the first person pronoun to tell you
a little about how and why Kasu Emporium, and it's sister business, Kasu Tours, came about.
I first visited India in 2008 as a tourist and fell head over heels in love. Not with another person, but with
the country. And the people I met. I also fell in love with
the textiles of the place - so different from region to region and from village to village in some cases.
So I started buying beautiful shawls. But not just any shawls - they had to be hand made and fair trade. I had done some research on fair trade organisations before I left Australia and so found myself taking a rickety local bus from Delhi through the mountains of Himachal Pradesh in search of fair trade items.I bought a modest amount on that first trip - I was back-packing after all, but the seed was sown and so the addiction began. Subsequent trips meant more purchases. I told myself that I cannot keep all these lovelies, so I decided that if I created an online shop, I would be able to support my 'habit'.
The quest for the beautiful products has taken me to many parts of India - to the Himalayas in the north, to the south of India, to the east for tribal treasures, and to the west for glowing embroideries from the wonderful village women of Gujarat.
Along the way I have acquired some knowledge of the different types of weaving, printing, embroidery and the regional variations and traditions, along with the exotic names for the different textile making techniques, materials from which they are made and the places of origin. Khalamkari, Patola, Tangaliya, Khadi, Eri silk, Muga silk, Pashmina, Ikat, Batik, Ajrakh, Maheshwari, Chanderi, Leheriya, Sanganeri, Bagh, Dabu, Mangaliri, Shibori, Jamdani, Mashru, Kota Doria, Bandeneh, Kanchipuram. To me, this is an Aladdin's cave of riches and tradition.
Then there are the regional variations on embroidery ...there are dozens of styles that vary by region and clothing styles. Chikan (Uttar Pradesh), Ahir, Phulkari (Punjab), Kashida (Kashmir), Kasuti (Karnataka), Kantha (Bengal), Chambarumal (Himachal Pradesh), Zardozi, and in the Kutch area of western Gujarat, the traditional textiles vary from tribal group to group, and within those groups there are sub-groups and cross fertilization.
I still have much to learn so I keep going back to India visit more makers, to buy more wonderful items for stock and also to share my love of 'off the beaten track' India with guests who join my tours at Kasu Tours.