Tharangini: Padmini Govind blockprints a family legacy
Handed down from mother to daughter, Padmini Govind's exclusive blockprint studio, Tharangini, in Bengaluru focuses on sustainability, rootedness and upliftment
Carrying forward her Amma's legacy was easy for Padmini Govind, the question, however, was how to elevate it. When not many down south knew much about the craft of block printing, Govind's mother had set up Tharangini in Bangalore back in 1977.
"My mother once said to me: I'm satisfied with what it has achieved in three decades, do not feel pressured to take it forward. Do it only if you want to find your own journey with it," recalls Govind.
For two decades, Govind did exactly that. Pursuing a busy corporate career, she worked with fintech firms abroad, while her mother continued to run the blockprint business back home.
When she moved back to India 10 years ago, having grown up in a family rich in culture, craft and the company of artisans, she started to see herself being involved in the studio at some point. "Tharangini is almost like a sibling," she smiles. So, shortly after her mother's demise in 2011, she decided to take over and start work on Tharangini phase two.
This meant taking her mother's past work forward and combining it with her own vision for the future. Acknowledging the importance of karigars and artists in this sustainable block-printing business, the organisation has always had an artisan-first approach. Which Govind continued.
Therefore, aside from being a beacon for preserving an utterly under-appreciated art form in the country - block printing on textiles - Tharangini has been able to create impact by being inclusive in its practices with local sourcing, low-waste and low-carbon footprint with artisan-led workshops that cover natural dyes, hand-block printing/dyeing. At the same time, it aims to find a connection with the millennial generation by adapting to changing times and designs.
"The first mission of sustainability is to preserve the handicraft in all its details, else you're eroding the art form," says Govind. This also applies to the way she has continued the business. "Ethical, organic and sustainability are the core values that the studio is rooted in," she says. Which is why it now furthers its business by tying up with national and international brands that share these values.
Another of Govind's aims has been to pivot Tharangini into exports and diversify what they were already doing and get into new verticals such as furnishings, experiential tourism and education. Times have changed and being ahead of the curve, the entrepreneur wanted to create sustainable changes to the model, making it better suited to this era.
At the same time, Govind still runs it as a social enterprise to preserve the cultural heritage of the country and its communities. Tharangini’s workshops are open to students and tourists alike. Designers and researchers also visit the premises to learn about the intricacies of the art form.
The organisation was recently awarded the Global Eco Artisan award for a stole submitted by the studio which was hand-woven by the inhabitants of a leprosy rehabilitation centre in Bihar. Similarly, artists from Tharangini have tied up with Asha Foundation for Autism to run workshops for autistic young adults.
"The results have been magnificent. We've helped train women artisans with special needs, and we’re planning to continue and expand this," says Govind. Clearly, craft with a conscience.