Of Haute Heritage Entrepreneurship: (Centring) Sarita Handa

Tanya Chaturvedi | April 5, 2024 | Life

“We as a system are working future-backwards, with plans to expand and explore trans-media.”

Saturated in revitalisation and nestled through forward facing contemporisation, formed the building blocks of what marked the coming together of Sarita Handa and Svasa Life. In this exclusive with the founder-designer we sail around her ideas on cross-cultural collaboration, warm luxury, needle-work and community building, all feeding into the vision-mission of the brand– Sarita Handa.

“I was always inspired to be ‘somebody’, somebody entrenched in Indian heritage…to be my own boss.”

A zealous visionary on the forefront, Sarita Handa identified herself as a well travelled ‘Indian at heart’, owing to her personal life- a connotation, often resonant in the body of work produced at the creative mill. Perusing through her personal life, Handa dictated her life chart in three different modules– getting married at 19, realising her independent self to move on to a flourishing career at the age of 30 and later conceiving, what we know as Sarita Handa- the hallmark, a pivot marking 1992.

Woodsculpting at the Sarita Handa Factory

“I took my learnings from my travels and remoulded them to sit under a contemporary lens.”

Handa’s progressive expedition of finding an astute curatorial balance between the hereditamented knowledge from India for a contemporary world, ended up inspiring an entire generation of designo-artists to come. Adjacent to the whirlpool of inspiration comes reality- spotlit, that is the brand Sarita Handa, a product of indelible hard work, establishment, strong ethos that is rooted in family and support- avenues that often get lost in a spun yarn. Warm Luxury, a term fervent to the brand, is a phrasal compass to the dichotomy that exists within, where Handa explains the warmth of Indian culture and how it sits within contemporary luxury. Inspired from books, podcasts and ever-expanding knowledge systems through travel and her deep love for Central Asia and the craft communities there, all speaks to Handa’s adaptability, forming a multidimensional personality rooted in experiential analysis.Travel and travel learnings forms an integral part of the inspiration chart, where Handa proclaims “every human being has a story to tell”, forming a well of inspiration at her disposal, making the evolution and reverent storytelling the core of the brand.

“I wanted to see reflections from India, in other homes, internationally.”

“Wisdom doesn’t come from youth, it comes from experiences and life, create the life that you want.”

Ruminating on the empire Handa created, revealed an overlooked trajectory in Handa’s entrepreneurial narrative. Beyond the ostensible pillars of the business- design innovation, retail marvel and heritage- contemporisation, much closer to home is, literally, Sarita Handa’s home. The powering chakra, value-systems of home in fundamental capacity, stands steadfast as Handa’s support system, in her family– that helps her find her bearings before taking bigger leaps, and also powered through as her recent favourite project of remodelling her home, an ongoing endeavour.

(L-R) Laxmi Gain, quilting at the factory; Hand embroidery

“Future is ours to take.”

Fleshed in confidence, Sarita Handa’s outlook is one revolving around ‘novus’. Planned introduction of new product categories to new collaboration, the brand’s vista is an exclusive one, with no caps and self realised learning curve, feeding into the evolving goals. Atop sits community, as a later leg of brand establishment, where giving back and re-thinking communal literature is headlining Sarita Handa, being her own benchmark. Recognising the sensitive sensibilities of the brand, the conscious effort of ‘viability’ and ‘sustainability’ is traced into the employment generation and skill development for the women in the surrounding community empowerment. Heralding transparent dialogues within the brand system and working community, has borne skillful and successful legislation, where fair voices are heard and logic triumphs, resulting in many successful collaborations, with due acceptance of errors and error correcting empathy. A deep understanding of societal structures, close knit associations with the craft communities and passing down of traditional tactile knowledge from generation to generation, has helped Handa identify the gaps that now drive the conception of solution oriented schools, helping ‘needlework’ craft in better recognition, while repositioning it away from the age-old traditional activities into a clerical lens with the introduction of standardisation and documentation.

Sarita Handa, an enigmatic-realist and top voice in the textiles of India, emphasises the importance of multilayer collaboration as part of promising best delivery, being inspired from the iconic Iris Apfel and statement glasses alongside being responsibility driven, understanding the social and climatic impacts in her practice had us round a spectrum of worldly whole practice that stems from heritage and innovation.

“Your human assets are part of your wealth creation, my team, my artisans and my audiences are all part of the wealth I have created, and therefore, collaboration becomes my reality.”

Words by Tanya Chaturvedi.
Image courtesy Sarita Handa.

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