Tête-à-Tête with Shaila Khubchandani

Tête-à-Tête with Shaila Khubchandani

Shaila Khubchandani Founder Crow
Shaila Khubchandani - Founder World of Crow 

Discovering World of Crow through the eyes of the founder!

A brand celebrating the beauty and craftsmanship of handwoven fabrics, The World of Crow honours handspun fabric in all its glory! Founded in 2011 by Shaila Khubchandani, Crow is a contemporary women-owned brand mastering the art of handspun fabric to uplift style, tradition, and sustainability for years to come.
With each piece handwoven and stitched in-house at their studio, Crow is dedicated to preserving traditional techniques and using natural materials without compromising on comfort or style. And that’s what we love about them! The silhouettes accentuate the subtle femininity and poise of women, centralizing utmost comfort. Relaxed fit dresses, in earthy tones are the perfect answer to up your style quotient whether at work, or spending quality time with friends and family.
However, when Canvas and Weaves decided to collaborate with World of Crow, it wasn’t the relaxed silhouettes, a muted colour palette and a sprinkle of hand motifs that caught our attention, but rather, it was the passion and vigour of the founder and her vision to make an inspired change in the sustainable fashion industry.
The founder, Shaila Khubchandani is a passionate textile enthusiast who has always been drawn to the beauty and craftsmanship of handwoven fabrics. We sit down with her to impart on a journey of the story behind the brand, the traditional textile techniques and beautiful fabrics that come to life in her designs and to understand her true essence of sustainability!

We know your initial inspiration came from your many travels. Is that still the case? If so, then which place did you recently travel to that inspired you the most?

Oh yes! I’ve always been a passionate traveler. As I walk through the streets of a new city, I absorb the culture and immerse in the creativity that surrounds me. I’ve visited countless museums, stores, and exhibitions which showcase unique design concepts and sustainable practices, and those become the basis for my creative work.
For me, traveling also brings with it the joy of meeting new people from various different walks of life. With unknown experiences. A conversation with a stranger across the globe could teach you so much more than any book would. I particularly enjoy understanding people’s perspective on sustainable fashion, why it should matter and how better we can approach a closed loop fashion economy.
But yes, while travel is a significant source of inspiration, I also keep an open mind to the inspiration that surrounds me every day. Recently, I visited the United States, and the diverse yet impactful approach to design there inspired me greatly.

Clearly, you love traveling! What do you usually do on a trip? How do you explore a place?

As I mentioned, I fully get immersed in the local culture of a place! The food, the people, the little quaint shops, the big museums, the unexplored side lanes. I love to take on ALL OF IT and so much more!
Local food is something I enjoy immensely. It gives me a great sense of the flavor of a place, the taste of the people. As I walk the streets, I also keenly observe the way people dress, the choices they make… because at the end of the day… I am designing for people.
The local flora and fauna of a place is another thing that greatly interests me. Nature not only brings me positivity and joy but acts as a fire that ignited my creative juices.

Shaila, even though we live in a progressive society, being a female founder has its challenges. Have you ever faced any gender biases and how did you overcome them?

Yes, as a female founder, I have faced my fair share of gender biases. However, I have learned to stay focused on my goals and not let these biases hold me back. I think it’s been extremely essential for me to surround myself with a supportive network of people who believe in my vision. I think the undoubted support and love I have received from my core group of people is what has helped me sail through these obstacles.

'World of Crow’ Such an interesting name for a fashion brand. What’s the story behind it?

The name World of Crow is inspired by the black crow, which is often seen as a symbol of change, intelligence, and adaptability. We believe that our brand represents these qualities and our commitment to innovative sustainable production at every step of the way.

What’s the World of Crow Muse?

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Pic Credit - World of Crow.
The World of Crow Muse lies in the intricately skilled workmanship and the culturally rich stories of the artisans we collaborate with. For us, the aim is to always highlight and celebrate their skill to its full potential, while also giving our customers a glimpse into the stories these artisans share through our online platform. Crow is a way for us to share their artistry and craftsmanship with the world at large.
And honestly, that’s what I love about my job the most. Working with our artisan partners and seeing their creativity and skill in action is truly inspiring, and it's gratifying to know that our brand is helping to support their livelihoods.

Talking about the artisans, you closely work with communities across the country. It is such an unorganized sector. Is it difficult to manage timelines and collaborate with local communities?

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Pic credit - World of Crow IG
Yes, working with artisan communities can be challenging, especially when it comes to timelines and communication. Remote locations, connectivity, language, the barriers could be as small or as big as you make them to be. For us at Crow, it’s always been about okay, this is the problems, what can we do about it? You and your core team need to have a solution-oriented approach to be able to run a strong successful business. And so, over the years, we have built strong relationships with our partners, and we work closely with them to ensure that we meet our deadlines and maintain the quality of our products.
But one of the main challenges we face is ensuring that our partners are paid fairly for their work. We overcome this by working directly with them and establishing transparent and fair payment systems and eliminating middle men. Fair wages are the least we can do in return of the love, dedication and lifelong heritage skills they put into creating each garment worn by our customers.
We also invest in training and skill development to support the growth and development of our partners to ensure we grow together, as a family!

Textiles are a big part of your brand. Where did the love for handspun textiles come from?

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Pic Credit - World Of Crow IG
Oh yes! I love the versatility and the texture of handspun textile. We work extensively with fine handwoven cotton made by weavers of India, such as organic cotton, jamdani, handwoven muslin, and others. Our textiles are woven in different parts of India in Kutch, Madhya Pradesh, west Bengal and Tamil Nadu. Our weavers, even today use the most sustainable, non-power based traditional processes and tools similar to those seen in the 19th century, which makes our textiles timeless and Eco-friendly.
Each piece of cloth is made with so much love, care and attention to detail. Each piece is unique. The beauty lies in the skilled artistry of hand spun fabric production. I mean, think about it, one person sits on the loom for days or even months at end weaving magic to create a canvas we can create clothes from. It’s truly magical

What makes for a good conscious garment according to you?

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Pic Credit - World of Crow IG
According to me, a good conscious garment should be made using eco-friendly materials and ethical production practices. It should be durable, timeless, and versatile, so it can be worn in multiple ways and last for years. Striking the perfect balance between commerce and conscious consumption is about making sustainable choices that benefit both the planet and the people involved in the production process.
That’s why our designs are timeless, classic, and effortless. The focus is always on creating pieces that can be worn multiple ways, to multiple occasions by multiple age groups be it a family lunch, date night dinner, to work or to play.
Additionally, I believe to produce ethically, at the World of Crow, we are constantly striving to minimize our carbon footprint by using eco-friendly materials, reducing waste, and supporting ethical production practices. Each day, we are innovating and finding new ways of how we can reduce wastage, or commit to a better closed loop production system.

And lastly, conscious, aware slow living enthusiasts! Is that the World of Crow consumer like?

Yes, our customers are conscious individuals who appreciate quality, design, and ethical production. They value sustainability and are willing to invest in pieces that align with their values.
Essentially, to us slow living is about prioritizing quality over quantity, living in the present moment, and making mindful choices. It aligns perfectly with our brand values, and we encourage our customers to embrace a more sustainable and conscious lifestyle through not only our designs but also our communication and interaction with them.
And that is exactly why the community at Canvas and Weaves appreciates brands like World of Crow. Zebra brands that are challenging systems, uplifting artisans and rural communities and creating a more circular production process.

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