Manisha and I spoke several weeks ago. It wasn’t just the name of her brand which left me enchanted but also the warmth in her voice and her passion for her start up which was extremely inspiring.
Before we share more – here is some very popular Sambalpuri music . Weavers at Neeli Titlee love it !
ENTHUSIASTIC, is the one word that explains Manisha. The smallest inspiration or moment of happiness can bring an electric spark in her eyes She truly lives by her favorite quote by Oscar Wilde – “To live is the rarest thing in the world.Most people just exist.”
Manisha was fascinated with textiles ever since she was an 8th grader. ” I chose the Textile Design path as soon as I was out of high school and had the freedom to study a subject of my choice. I had the privilege of pursuing a master’s degree in Textile Design at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad which opened a plethora of opportunities for me. My final project at NID happened to be in a place called Barpali in western Orissa. I was part of a cluster development project where I researched the process involved in making sambalpuri fabrics (IKATS), carried out market surveys and came up with a range of contemporary products bridging the gap between what was available and what the modern day customer wanted. The entire process was quite eye opening and inspiring for me and I got hooked onto IKAT forever. After completion of the project, I worked in the clothing and home textile industry (majorly designing block printed fabrics) for a few years only to get back to the sambalpuri weavers in 2013.That is when I founded NEELI TITLEE. ”
“NEELI TITLEE translates to “BLUE BUTTERFLY” in English (for international friends and customers) I associate a butterfly with free spiritedness, cheerfulness and elegance. Blue is the color of the sky and sea and of vastness and freedom. Having a label of my own was like stepping onto a path of freedom..to be able to make my own decisions and unleash the entrepreneur in me. My products also reflect these attributes. They are firmly rooted to the traditional craft, yet not a replica of the ikats made decades ago. They are a fresh take on the traditional sambalpuri fabric.”
NEELI TITLEE is all about scarves for now. They do the traditional rectangular scarves as well as the more urban square scarves. They are very soon coming up with full width dupattas(36″) also. “I love scarves. They can add so much to an ensemble.There are zillions of ways to drape them which makes them a very interesting piece of accessory. I believe they are as versatile as a sari.” Adds Manisha
Although our favorites from Neeli Titli are their latest Taash and Water collection.
(glimpse of the Taash collection)
Our Favorite Water collection
Here are a few more of our must have scarves from the brand .
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“There is a certain free spiritedness in my scarves despite being rooted in the traditional craft. I interplay the impeccable elegance and identity of the craft with my personal inspirations when designing these scarves. For example, our latest collection WATER is a minimalist, yet lovely collection of square scarves in shades of blues blending into each other effortlessly. You would see fishes and sparkling white dots with the very harmonious lines flowing in the background. When I design these collections, the craft becomes a medium to express my artistic ideas. My weavers have the Midas’ touch to bring these ideas to life.” Manisha
“I owe a lot to my guide Aditi Ranjan (my guide during the project). She is a pro at getting a student hooked on to his/her work by prodding them to see beyond the surface and delve deeper into the topic.”
One of the most memorable or rather overwhelming moment during the journey was when my teacher Aditi Ranjan recommended NEELI TITLEE to one of her students for internship. It made me feel proud of my teeny tiny label.
(Manisha with Aditi Ranjan)
Manisha starts with an inspiration that she is excited about followed by a few sketches and layouts which she sends to her weavers. They tell her if her ideas are practical and cost and time effective and then they take it from there. Once they are ready with the tie-dye and warping of the loom, she visits them and sits with them to shape up the new samples.
(tie-dyed weft threads ready to be woven on the loom )
“Sitting on the loom and taking hands on decisions is the part I love the most.” shares Manisha.
“More often than not, we come up with something entirely different from what we thought we would make. We don’t change the concept but play around within the constraints of what is in hand to come up with interesting ideas and variations. Once these original samples are ready, the weavers are on their own replicating the samples. I like this teamwork where the designer and the craftsman work hand in hand to create something so beautiful.Every weaver has a different level of skill and they contribute a lot to the way the final product looks. I am lucky to have local friends in Barpali like Ashish and Jyoti who introduce me to these gems. After the scarves are woven, they are sent to our studio in Ahmedabad where my product manager(read lifeline:) ) gets them edged and finished with trims and distributes it to various online and retail stores.”
(Manish and Nilambari)
(Manisha with friends cum family in Barpali)
“IKATS are not only made in India but many other countries like Indonesia, Japan, Uzbekistan and Guatemala. I wish I can learn more about all of them some day. In India also we have IKATS in 3 states-Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat which are very different from each other. Even Orissa has two entirely different IKAT belts and the ikats made in these regions are completely different from each other. I have only been able to work with the ikats of western Orissa till now. These are called sambalpuri pertaining to the region they are made in. I would love to explore the ikats of eastern orissa as well some day. It is such an intricate and exotic technique that it is completely worth exploring all of it. When I see the weavers tying the threads to make intricate patterns, I see a calculative mathematician in each one of them.They are true geniuses.” Says Manisha
“We will be getting more and more creative in exploring the kinds of scarves that we can offer to our customers. So you are going to see many more styles very soon. We are also coming up with interesting IKAT kaftans and ponchos shortly. An Etsy shop for our international customers is also on the way.” Signs off Manisha .
Neeli Titli is available on :
Online : Craftisan.com : Buy them online here.
and will be on etsy.com very soon.
They are also available at the following stores :
KILOL (Jaipur, Gurgaon, New Delhi and Bengaluru)
BAAYA, Lower Parel, Mumbai
You can also contact them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for product enquiries and bulk orders.
Follow them on Facebook here .