Tell us about yourself and your background
I am a home scientist, born to an educated, culturally rich parent. I wanted to work and have an identity of my own, but I didn’t have any specific career in mind. Just to get back at my mum, alongside a lack of choice, I took up home science. However since I have been very proud of that decision!
I was fortunate enough to be guided and shaped by so many home scientists who are responsible for shaping who I am today. Not everyone makes use of what they study but people look at you in a different way when you say you have done home science.
I worked in Mount Carmel College, Bengaluru as a professor in the Department of Home Science. Then the entrepreneur bug hit me, so I quit my job and started Sameeksha Boutique & School of Embroidery – a very unique concept. Hand skills have been forgotten and everything is getting mass produced and mechanized. My aim of setting up this enterprise was mainly in order to do my bit and to pass on hand embroidery skills to the next generation by teaching and taking orders amd selling hand embroidery products.
Tell us about any current projects/initiatives you wish to promote
At the moment, I am trying to involve a lot of people in to signing up for hand embroidery classes and workshops. I am promoting this through media contacts and blogs. We have seen alot of movement in handloom sector but nothing to promote hand embroidery!
I want my female embroiderers to become self reliant, supplement to their family income and lead a better standard of life. I educate my embroiderer’s children for a brighter future.
What has been the biggest challenge in achieving your success?
To convince people that hand embroidery is not out of fashion. This is what our grandmothers and ancestors did. If we don’t practice and teach our children, it’s going to evanesce.
These embroidery forms that I teach are generally done by women using just needles, cotton thread and fabric. One can create fabulous designs, it’s easy to carry, inexpensive and easy to learn and practice.
Today’s consumers can’t even differentiate between hand and machine embroidery. Educating people is also a challenge which I would like to explore.
What is has been your greatest achievement personally?
I am capable of better things; I want to be remembered for my work and achievements. My greatest achievement is when I see my women embroiderer’s work getting appreciated, the income generated by their hard work and the thrill on their face!
If you weren’t doing this what would you be doing?
Maybe an architect – I like to make use of my creativity to make something. I have created functional furniture from antique carved pieces. I am also a trained interior designer. Jewellery designing is another passion I enjoy thoroughly – I design my own jewellery.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
There is not one person who I inspire too. Many women archives like Ritu Kumar and Jaya Jaitly in the creative textile field.
What does the future hold for you?
As I said before I want to spread the essence of hand embroidery and many facets of Indian textiles to common people. As they are the consumers who are making choices each day. I will continue to educate the common man about our rich heritage; about crafts, embroiderey and textiles. If they don’t have the knowledge, how can they make choices? We should also provide good quality at competitive prices or else they will buy products which are cheaper.
About Sujaya Mahesh
Former Professor in Home Science, Mount Carmel College, Bengaluru, Sujaya Mahesh has turned into hand embroidery revivalist. I am proficient in teaching hand embroidery in India, Europe and other countries. Sujaya is passionate about Indian antique jewellery and furniture as well.
My motto is; “Anything that is traditional and antique has to be revived, treasured and passed on to the next generation – as they wouldn’t know the value of it today.”