Did you know India generates the most textile waste in the world? One entrepreneur takes responsibility to change this; and the narrative surrounding upcycled fabric and products.
Sneha, chef-turned-entrepreneur and founder of ‘HolyScrap’, wants your textile waste and she will turn it into one of the most beautiful things you will ever own. Patchwork quilt, tote bag, coasters – you name it.
We got in touch with Sneha to know more about her unique and sustainable small business and talk about her goal to save the planet, one fabric at a time.
From art therapy to a small business – setting up HolyScrap
Burnout is a common issue faced by millennials today, and Sneha endured tremendous stress from her day job. Eventually, she threw in the apron and decided to talk to a counsellor. When the counsellor recommended she take a break, Sneha took to relaxing and clearing her mind to indulge in a little self-care.
” I started stitching and doodling as part of my art therapy, for about 15-20 minutes a day. With no steady income, it was difficult to continue doing art daily. Eventually, I developed an interest and watched DIY videos and started to experiment around different styles. I recycled fabric I had and worked on making a patchwork quilt. .” – Sneha
Sneha saw potential in ‘trash’ – good quality cloth thrown aside by tailors and boutique stores, and that way she also saw a new business opportunity!
Recycling fabric to create something new
After her first patchwork quilt project became a success, Sneha decided to set up a business online. She started with an Instagram page and soon after, an Instamojo online store.
How did she source her raw materials? Sneha would pay a visit to tailors and boutique stores and ask for cloth they were going to throw away.
” There were bags of good-quality cloth that would simply end up in a landfill. Instead, I would take these bags of “waste cloth” home, and spend hours trying to make something new out of them.” – Sneha, founder, Holyscrap
” Tailors would contact me to say over 1 kg of ‘good ikat’ cloth was going to be discarded and I would rush to take the material from them! Never missed an opportunity to source textile of great worth and quality before it got dumped.” – Sneha
How Holyscrap acquired new customers
Soon after the Holyscrap online store and the Instagram page went LIVE, Sneha began to rope in customers – who weren’t even her peers!
” I got overwhelming support from people on the internet who were not my immediate family or from my friends’ circle. This gave me the push and motivation I needed to continue and scale what I set out to do with Holyscrap – upcycled products with a message! ” – Sneha
Sneha’s products began to sell out as soon as she uploaded them, however, she says the story is far from being over.
” We still need to change the way we see upcycled and recycled products, because India has a huge issue with generating waste. ” – Sneha
Holyscrap’s story – Changing the narrative around waste
How do you convince Indian customers to buy something recycled? According to Indiantextilejournal, more than 1 million tonnes of textile gets thrown away every year, with most of this coming from household sources. and only 25% of textile waste gets recycled. Even now, cloth scrap that brand factories throw, gets burnt or thrown in landfill where it rots away for aeons!
” Indians will spend a lot of money on metres of the same cloth used for one product. However, they refuse to pay more when it’s a patchwork of different scrap cloth because they think the value will be lesser.” – Sneha
But they’re wrong, and Holyscrap wants customers to understand why.
The intricate creative process behind upcycled products
“It is easy to measure and cut one cloth and make say, a quilt. But, imagine looking at different measurements of cloth, sorting it, and designing a utility-based product that looks beautiful in someone’s home or in public. There’s extra time, creativity and patience involved in bringing upcycled products to life. Our quilts could take upto a month to make! These products may be scrap; but they are washed and as good as the final product at the tailors. – Sneha
In the future, Sneha wants Indians to change their buying behaviour. Buying recycled and used goods is a norm in the USA and UK thanks to thrift stores, it is still unheard of in India.
“This was not how Indians consumed, we used to recycle our grandmothers’ sarees for other attire. We are becoming mindless with our consumption patterns, and I am hoping the pandemic has given us some time to reflect.” – Sneha
Holyscrap does not limit itself to beautiful upcycled textile products. The brand also finds potential in plywood, newspaper and glass! The other products Holyscrap sells on the online store include –
- Birdhouses made from upcycled and discarded plywood
- ‘Seed’ Pencils made with newspaper that you plant once it’s used.
- Bookmarks and luggage tags made from old wedding card invitations
Interested in brand collaborations? Get in touch
Handling the long creative process of upcycled products is not easy.
Sneha needed a little professional assistance and manpower. Fortunately, a friend recommended reaching out to NGOs that wanted to provide job opportunities to specially-abled people. Sneha spent time working with these NGOs, sharing her skillsets, and managing orders via the Instamojo store.
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However, Holyscrap is now on the lookout for more brand collaborations. If you have a business that can help scale a sustainable, upcycling brand set to change the way we shop – leave us an email or a comment below.
Let’s grow our business community together!