The future is fabric-friendly for Chennai-based entrepreneur Reshma 

Reshma Malliknath’s Handmade by Reshma makes the most of fabrics — even giving a makeover to scraps

Published: 19th May 2022 08:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th May 2022 08:50 AM   |  A+A-

Giving a makeover to scraps and waste fabric. ( Photo | EPS)

Giving a makeover to scraps and waste fabric. ( Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The resistance to textile wastage is growing in our country, albeit — one could argue — not fast enough. Apart from the discarded clothes owing to rapidly changing trends, there is also a significant chunk (60 billion square metre) of fabric waste that makes it to landfills. But Chennai-based entrepreneur Reshma Malliknath is not a contributor, it seems. For her brand Handmade by Reshma works on a zero-waste, slow-moving model. 

It all began when the graphic design professional moved to Coimbatore for a few years with her husband and took to sewing to occupy her free hours. While initially only working on home projects (curtains and table runners, for instance), her skills did not go unnoticed by friends. Soon enough, she was creating products for close ones.

“I would help them out with various things like curtains, golu pouches, return bags and such. I was into design and colour and put together everything accordingly and people liked it. Eventually, they started telling me to put these up for sale and that’s how the brand came about in 2018,” she explains. 

What’s on offer?
The early offerings of the Instagram store were limited to the products she was already doling out, but later expanded to lunch bags and fabric toys for children. “When people search for toys online, most are plastic-based that the children take and soon after, throw away. So, I introduced fabric toys that a child could hold and they developed over time — with moveable arms and change of outfits. The benefit of a fabric toy is that it poses no harm. It won’t chip and hurt your child. It won’t tear if they bite it. And, one can just throw it into the washing machine when they need to clean it. I thought that would help the mothers too,” says Reshma, mother of a four-year-old son.

The store presents an inviting line of playthings, from bunnies, fish and lions to even a customised unicorn. Some of these are her son’s ideas. She currently stuffs them with polyfill, but she is working on a way to make the entire product cotton. Meanwhile, she encourages parents to return toys that they intend to throw out, so that she can reuse the material. 

A noble cause
No matter the product, the name of the game is zero waste for Reshma. The cutting of the fabric is done in a manner that ensures maximum usage, she informs. As for the leftover scraps, she finds ways to incorporate them in her products. One batch of scraps became the unicorn toy’s hair and tail, another was stuffed into a pillowcase to make a backrest for her. She even managed to create a fabric-based memory game.

“That was the main objective of the brand. If there is an affordable fabric bag available, one could use that instead of plastic. And if, through my store, even two to five people moved away from plastic, that would be great. When it comes to saving scrap, there are two reasons. One, I cannot bring myself to throw it. It’s (almost) a problem; and two, it will just be trashed so it’s better to do something with it. It does take up space but somewhere in the future, you might need it and will regret giving it up,” she explains. 

So far, Reshma has been a one-woman army, handling everything from cutting to delivery by herself, only recently finding another seamstress to help her. This means orders take time, she says, adding that she is upfront with her customers about the same. For this, she often faces mixed reception. “There are some who compare our work with factory-made items and have unrealistic expectations. But overall, the reception has been great. Most of it has been word-of-mouth through friends and people who reach out know that it may take some time, especially with large orders, but are also aware that they will get (good) quality fabric and a finished product,” Reshma assures. In the future, she wishes to establish her own print on fabric so everything — from start to end — is handmade by Reshma.

Dm @handmade.by.reshma on Instagram to place orders; Price: From Rs 40 onwards. Customisations available.



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