Every single thing that you see at Umbara is made exclusively by a woman. They come from vulnerable backgrounds and are often not financially stable. What drives us is to make sure that each woman working with us is given her due - all her efforts, her skills, her perseverance and strength are appreciated and rewarded. We simply act as facilitators, helping them to realize their full potential as women, but also as creators and entrepreneurs.
Each time you delve into the Umbara experience with our garments, you can be sure that each head, hand and heart that was involved in creating it, gets its due. In many ways, we were on the ‘ethical sourcing’ bandwagon before the wagon existed!
Ours is an attempt to synergize the power of women with the rich traditions of textiles in India. We want to weave in threads of change across the people that we work with, as well as the way in which our textiles are seen in the country and beyond. Large fashion houses go down the path of making Indian textiles ‘exotic’ and ‘exclusive’. On the other hand, export houses focus on consistency and efficiency as opposed to innovation or preservation of our rich heritage. At Umbara, our effort is to navigate that liminal space - to reach the discerning patron at home or abroad, and highlight the depth and richness of Indian textile traditions.
The Umbara Story
Umbara is Rama’s baby. In the beginning, Rama had four women who skilled at sewing by hand. There was a catch - they were terrified of a sewing machine! And so it was that Umbara’s first products were fine needlework being dispatched from Rama’s own home. From those days to now working with multiple teams of women across different product ranges, Umbara has come a long way.
Rama’s own experience is a cornerstone in the journey of Umbara. She has been in the textile industry for more than two decades now, contributing to it in many capacities. Herself a graduate of NIFT, New Delhi, she has also taught at the university’s outposts at Bangalore, Chennai, and Hyderabad. Apart from her deep understanding of the world of textiles, she has also understood the essence of working with people. Having closely observed women from less privileged backgrounds, she felt that women garment workers deserve much better: a work environment that is not just safe, non-exploitative and non-discriminatory, but also one that draws out their innate creative potential.
From the churning of an ocean of experience, compassion, and a drive to do work that impacts women’s lives in a meaningful way, Umbara was birthed.
What Makes Us Different
All our products are crafted and created by women
Men dominate so much of the textile space, with women being reduced to a mere pair of hands. All tailors, masterjis, master weavers are men. When women conquered every imaginable realm from deep space explorations to deep-sea diving, why leave the textile space untouched? We believe in empowering women so they can, in turn, facilitate a better environment of development for their families. In an industry where men and machines have taken out the healing and attentive aspects of sewing, Umbara works with women to retain the thoughtful creativity of sewing and working with textiles.
We believe in ethical sourcing, fair trade, slow fashion
‘Best Deals’, ‘Top Steals’, and going beyond
Fast fashion usually means that for the price that you get, someone somewhere is deprived of fair wages. In a bid to get the best prices of them all, the dignity of an individual is compromised. In all of Umbara’s projects or products, we ensure that absolutely no one is undervalued - every hand, head, and heart that we touch is given its due.
What we do
- Skill development based on an understanding of hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills; we have achieved remarkable success with women from diverse backgrounds and abilities, including the differently-abled
- Simplifying production processes by creating tighter production cycles
- Training dressmakers and tailors in the art and science of custom made clothing
- Teaching and mentoring women - Rama was visiting faculty at NIFT Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad in an industrial interface capacity - she brings her expertise here.