Starting from scrap! Meet the upcycling entrepreneur

Team Ethico
  • Made entirely from upcycled material, Hamsini’s creations are a riot of all things pretty
Hamsini Hariharan has had no formal training in textiles or design. And yet her production unit in Bengaluru has on display creations that flaunt the dexterity of a seasoned artisan. A happy chaos of colours, textures and designs, the eponymous brand houses cushion covers, table runners, charms, bedspreads, bags, bottle cases etc that are not only handmade but also completely upcycled. While the Kancheevaram sari remains a favourite and a staple thanks to its luxurious look and durability, Hamsini plays around with all kinds of fabrics that bring to the table their own distinct quality.

Hamsini quilt made with upcycled natural fabric
Image Source: Hamsini

The Kancheevaram sari remains a favourite and a staple thanks to its luxurious look and durability

A self-taught designer, Hamsini started with creating paper products and branched into fabric work around 2013. “We have always kept a box to collect waste – both paper and fabric. Once that waste increased, I decided it’s time I convert them into something,” says Hamsini who finds the process of upcycling extremely rewarding.

Taking us through the process she says, “Everything happens organically. We keep going through our waste box every now and then and start mixing and matching the colours. Before we know it, something new is created. That’s one of the reasons why we have limited pieces in each colour, fabric and design.”  The waste is segregated on the basis of size. The larger pieces are saved to make larger items whereas the smaller bits and trimmings are used as stuffing for small toys. However using small scraps comes with its own challenges. “Working with small waste materials is quiet laborious. Sometimes it takes three days to make just one piece.”

Hamsini vintage sari throw made from upcycled natural fabric
Image Source: Hamsini

‘Working with small waste materials is quiet laborious. Sometimes it takes three days to make just one piece’

Deeply inspired from her love for Indian folk art, Hamsini’s products reflect traditional embroidery. Gond art features prominently on many of the works. Bespoke products too are undertaken under a project called Patchwork Tradition. “Here, orders are taken to design and produce patchwork home linen using old traditional saris. The saris handed in are closely inspected for strength as well as damage. Richly hued Kancheevaram saris, most suited for this, have a long lifespan. This heavy pure silk fabric is woven with the purpose of handing it down many generations. When one tires of wearing them, they still are more than durable,” she informs.

Hamsini pillow throws made from upcycled natural fabric
Image Source: Hamsini

Other times, requests from a client spark inspiration for a range. “One of our clients who loves elephants asked me to make something for her. That gave the idea to convert our smallest scraps of leftover material into little elephant dolls that make up a huge part of our inventory.” These are our personal favourite. Seeming bedecked thanks to the rich silk fabric, these little elephant dolls make for attractive wall décor hangings and even toys.

‘Seeming bedecked thanks to the rich silk fabric, the little elephant dolls make for attractive wall décor hangings and even toys.’

Hamsini Tara Toran made from upcycled natural fabric
Image Source: Hamsini

Going forward Hamsini wants more and more people to experience the joy of reinvention with upcycling. “We have people appreciating and wanting to donate their old saris and damaged fabric. It is deeply gratifying to see these being put to use somewhere rather than tearing and throwing them away.”

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