We’ve always been an advocate of people making a difference in society. If you ask us why, we’d say – It’s because of these people that the world is ever-evolving, and moving towards a more kind and genuine place. One such person whom we met recently is Naushin Kaipally, a Textile Designer graduate from NIFT, currently working as a Design Professor. She is also the founder of BAARI, a retail brand that supports local artisans.
Naushin Kaipally uses her embroidery skills as a way to voice out her ideologies, and create a space for people to feel good about themselves. Her art has had many people accepting the truest versions of themselves by believing in the beauty that lies within. While we’ve had many mental health and body-positive activists voice out their support on social media, Naushin does it a tad bit differently; she does it through embroidery.
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We’ve had the chance to speak to Naushin Kaipally, and this is her story.
How did your tryst with embroidery begin?
I have always adored things made by hand over a machine. I used to always sit next to my grandmother and see her knit sweaters and stitch my doll’s dresses with her old saree scraps. While pursuing textile design, I fell in love with our traditional Indian textiles and techniques.
It was particularly during this lockdown when life went upside down, I came back to embroidery for serenity. Embroidery has been a therapy for me in anxious times. There was no looking back ever since.
When did you realise that your calling was to break stereotypes with it?
I see young girls and women being concerned about how they look, how much they weigh on scales and how they compare themselves to women on magazine cover pages and social media. We weren’t born with these insecurities, they are given to us by the world we live in. I firmly believe there is nothing wrong with having stretch marks, body hair or cellulite. One should not let society frame your mind into thinking that it is an issue, because it is not.
When we grow, our body undergoes this physical and hormonal change, and sometimes this can result in various changes in our body. We should embrace them instead of feeling embarrassed and without going through a series of self-hatred episodes.
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The media and the modelling industry has shaped our minds into thinking that there’s something wrong with our body. And it’s time we set ourselves free from those thoughts. I am really grateful that I am able to spread awareness and break stereotypes through embroidery art and the fact that its really making some changes out there keeps me going and makes me do more of it. And if you call this feeling as a calling, then that’s what it is then.
What is the one thing Naushin Kaipally aims to achieve via your art?
All I want to achieve is a tomorrow where a women can be what and who they want to be and walk down the street without being judged.
Can you tell us a bit about BAARI?
I started BAARI around a year ago with the little money that my mother lent. I was always fascinated by the rich heritage and craftsmanship in our country, but somewhere felt that the notion about handmade clothes was being taken over by the fast fashion industry. Therefore, I started BAARI in the quest to support Indian Textiles and Artisans.
Check out BAARI here: https://www.instagram.com/baari.co.in/
The word ‘baari’ is originally derived from a Gujarati word which means window, and in Bengali, it means garden and in some other parts, it means home. This word has varied meanings and still has the same essence. Similarly, the brand BAARI is connected to its roots, giving you the freedom to be you.
How did the lockdown change your perception of the world around you, and how was that reflected in your art?
The pandemic has changed our lives upside down. On a positive note, it had made me slow down, and reflect within myself and the world around me. It gave me enough time to observe, communicate and take time for myself. It has made me reflect on my own mental wellbeing and its importance which I had interpreted in many of my artworks.
How has the response been like?
The response has been immense. It is really overwhelming to know that somewhere someone relates to your art and it makes their day better or changes their perspective towards their own body positively. All the comments, DMS and mails which I get, telling me this, puts me to bed peacefully.
You’ve been an advocate of ‘Grow Unapologictally’ even since you started. What does it mean to Naushin Kaipally?
After dwelling myself into the world of embroidery, I didn’t want to restrict myself just to fabrics. Exploring embroidery on various mediums from leaves, paper to wood was fun and therapeutic for me.
Grow unapologetically is a series based on the belief that one should never stop growing and working on themselves no matter how bad the past was. If you look closely, fallen dry leaves gain the strength to grow without any fear and doubt, adorning themselves beautifully. And when I use them as part of my embroidered stitches, it makes for a perfect piece of art to me, which reminds me every day of the message.
Can you tell us how your family members and friends responded to your art?
Hailing from an orthodox Muslim household, the response at first was not as great as you can imagine. But later on, after being published in a few national newspapers, they understood what I was doing and have been my support system ever since.
You also conduct workshops. Do you get inspired by the people you’ve met through these workshops?
There was this 68-year-old lady who once attended my online workshop and that really inspired me. Even at that age, she took some time out to do something that she was keen about. That itself was a huge inspiration for me to continue what I was best at.
Let’s get this straight; is hand embroidery hard to learn?
No, its not at all hard. It just takes a little extra patience and time.
What does the future hold for Naushin Kaipally?
I look forward to spreading awareness, empowering women and reaching out to as many people as possible through my art. I hope for a future where we are not judged based on our gender, body, colour, race or religion.