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Red River

March 23, 2010

When we were in our 8th standard, a new girl had joined school.Good Looking,soft spoken,intelligent and an instant hit with the teachers, and by default not too popular with our lot. By ‘our’ I mean the little gang that we had going at that time,the main purpose of which was to take food from the outsiders (read as marwaris),talk only in assamese (more so when the nuns dictated that we were only to speak in English inside the school premises), roll socks down ,roll sleeves up and of course plonk ourselves at the last bench. I say ‘our’ since we clearly lacked individual brains to think on our own-  or maybe peer pressure dictated that we collectively love or hate people and things.

As luck would have it,there was a seating re arrangement as the teachers felt we were getting a tad too comfortable in the last bench , and I was made to seat next to the ‘new girl’. I hoped I donot get that infectious disease that she had of reading books  and solving math problems in between classes (or periods as we called them in our convent school). We did not have much to talk and considering I was never at my seat during free time ,we really made no effort to ‘know’ each other.

We passed out of school and took up different streams in Junior College and gently drifted away. Till two years back we got in touch through Facebook and tentatively we re-introduced ourselves. This time as two individuals me without my ‘gang’ and she relieved of  the burden of carrying the image of the ‘perfect school girl’ (sorry K :P). And guess what?We had so much more in common.Or at least at that time we were at the same phase of our life-bored of our corporate jobs and eager to do something different. Long conversation through which we got to know more about each other’s lives and interests. I don’t know if I came more as a revelation for her or was it the other way round.

And we realized that we both wanted to do something with/for North-East,something we both felt passionately about. For me it had to be something to do with travel and hence GypsyFeet. For her, it was garments and fabrics and weaving and hence Red River.(Assam is the land of Red River and Blue Hills)

They say Assamese women can weave dreams in their looms. If so, then Kakoli and her sister Nilakshi are the perfect dream-traders. They go to the remote areas and track down the dying tribal art forms of North East,reviving them and recreating them to suit modern lifestyles. Curtains, Cushion covers, runners, wallets and bags all with a touch of the North-East.

The  grudge that I had against traditional art forms in North East, is that it always had a crude finish and there were no innovations. The same bags with malfunctioning zips, and dull finish to all handicrafts. Red River trains its weavers well and it shows in the nice finished products.

( I have fallen in love with the colors)
Right now,they retail at  Mother Earth, Bombay Stores under their own brand and supply to Fab India, and to boutiques in and around Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune and Delhi, and they sell online through their eBay store (http://stores.shop.ebay.in/The-Red-River)

( Bag from the Tai Phake community)

You can browse through their catalog on their Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Red-River/216808472619?ref=ts)

(My personal favorite.I love the bright jazzy cloth beads)

I think now I can figure out what was it about her that made me stay away. Her strive for perfection and need to be the best in everything she does.You see,by then I had already embarked on my journey of cynicism and apathy and my strive for mediocrity which I was to master a few years later.Now,when I am struggling to undo all that I can only hope some of that rubs off on me . Right K? 😛

And what do you guys think of the products?

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26 Comments leave one →
  1. Rati permalink
    March 23, 2010 6:31 pm

    hey the cushion covers are so pretty and colorful-i want them for my new house!

  2. March 23, 2010 6:38 pm

    Commend the effort. Curious to know how the sales are on their site ?

  3. Poornima permalink
    March 23, 2010 10:34 pm

    Hi! Just found your blog through a friend’s (can’t remember now which friend!); I seem to relate word by word to some things that you write, so you have a reader in me now. Coming to this post, the work on display really tugs at my taurean soul and I am so going to check out Mother Earth (in Bangalore hopefully?).

    p.s. I liked the red ones best too 🙂

    • lostonthestreet permalink*
      March 25, 2010 10:01 am

      Think who could it be 😉
      and do keep coming back

  4. Nilanjana permalink
    March 24, 2010 1:57 am

    heyy!! I love “K”‘s products…..infact wud love to connect with her to kno more,,,u kno coz my org is into micro-entrprise….can u help me with her personal e-add??

  5. March 24, 2010 3:28 am

    totally love the products. brilliant!

  6. Pallavi permalink
    March 24, 2010 11:00 am

    I loved the cushion covers.Are they available in any store in Hyderabad?

  7. March 24, 2010 11:26 am

    Rati & Poornima ,

    Glad you liked them!You are most welcome to pick them up from our online store http://stores.shop.ebay.in/The-Red-River
    or by dropping me an email kakoli@theredriver.in with facebook album links http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Red-River/216808472619?ref=ts Besides cushions we do curtains, kitchen linen etc. Do visit
    our Facebook albums – I’m sure you will love browsing through them.

    I will follow them up prompty and ensure you have what you need for your new home – Rati, and for you as well Poornima.

    Nilanjana – you can connect me at kakoli@theredriver.in or kakoli.das@gmail.com. We are also looking at organizations which support enterprises like ours.

    Rayshma – Thanks!! Let me know if you need anything from our assortment

    And as for online revenues – they are lagging behind offline revenue, but we are new kids on the block, so some way to go before we can comment.

    Feel free to drop me an email – you’ve my email id.

    – Kakoli

    • March 27, 2010 12:57 am

      You could try SASHA at Kolkata. They are a fair trade, not for profit organisation who support craft groups mostly in the east. I’ve worked with them and they are pretty big. Unfortunately, I no longer have contact nos but you could look them up on the net.

      • March 27, 2010 10:51 am

        Thank you. I will explore. It would have been good to have some contacts though. But I’m sure their website would have some information.

  8. March 24, 2010 11:35 am

    Pallavi –

    They are available on our online store http://stores.shop.ebay.in/The-Red-River, we ship anywhere in India and anywhere else on special requests:) Alternately you can drop me an email at kakoli@theredriver.in/kakoli.das@gmail.com with Facebook album links from http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Red-River/216808472619?ref=ts, and I will follow up promptly. Do visit our albums on Facebook, I’m sure you would like the other products as well.

    Best,
    – Kakoli

  9. March 24, 2010 12:08 pm

    great work kakoli ! the thought matters most and you have aced it there ! Am sure given your nature since childhood :p, you will execute it well…

  10. March 24, 2010 2:51 pm

    Ranjith,

    Thanks! I’ve been hearing a lot about my “nature” today – it was along time ago, and even I’m surprised that’s how Kongkona remembers me:)

  11. March 24, 2010 7:18 pm

    nice….
    “The grudge that I had against traditional art forms in North East, is that it always had a crude finish and there were no innovations. The same bags with malfunctioning zips, and dull finish to all handicrafts”…totally agree!

    btw, are their products available at the store next to the guwahati Fab India? I thought I saw similar types of cushions and jewellery there…i shopped there on my last trip and loved what they had to offer.
    Congratulations to Kakoli and her sister!

    kakoli: are u looking for distributors in the US?

  12. March 24, 2010 7:26 pm

    Sukanya –

    Thank you for the appreciation!

    You are talking about the store “Konyak” – they do traditional bead jewelery, we do recycled fabric jewelery – well, in reality we find good use of all our precious handwoven fabric.

    And yes, we are looking for distributors in the US. Let me know if you are interested or have some references. Would appreciate that.

    I can be reached at kakoli@theredriver.in/kakoli.das@gmail.com – I will wait for your email, and then we could discuss.

    Thanks again,
    – Kakoli

  13. Priyanka permalink
    March 24, 2010 9:17 pm

    Yeah I knew this girl is different right from the first day she stepped in the university hostel.
    Her unconventional ways raised more eyebrows than admiration. She changed how things used to be in the college campus and never gave up on what she believed in.
    Wish her all the best in her future endeavours.

    – P

  14. March 24, 2010 9:27 pm

    Priyanka di –

    Thanks for the confidence you always showed in me. I could sense it way back in the 1st year of hostel days.

    Thank you,
    – K

  15. blinkandmiss permalink
    March 24, 2010 10:29 pm

    Such amazing stuff!

    • lostonthestreet permalink*
      March 26, 2010 5:14 pm

      I am proud of my friend.Trying to think how I can take credit for all that she has done till now. 😛

  16. pradeep permalink
    March 26, 2010 12:29 pm

    Great post!!
    Great because I loved the way with which you put forward THE RED RIVER. I mean you have very subtly referred your friend’s work through a beautiful story. A really commendable effort .

  17. March 26, 2010 8:29 pm

    Blinkandmiss – Thank you!
    Pradeep – Thank you so much.And yes, you are right – I owe it to Kongkona, she just created an interesting story out of it. All credit goes to the dear friend. – Kakoli

  18. Aradhana permalink
    March 31, 2010 6:34 pm

    i am glad to know that you have really done a amazing job for these north east artisans. atleast you have given a platform where they can show up their creativity and style. being an assamese i really know the value of these ethnic things . u r right tht earlier the things ur so plain u dont like to buy it…..but when i saw the red river u know i just fell in love with the colors u have used……may be u can do the same with mekhela chaddars also so that we can buy them….are u not planning to open up a store somewhere in assam….

  19. July 17, 2010 10:25 am

    I stumbled upon red river in a design blog and was so taken with the stuffThe colours are brilliant and the combinations are beautiful.

  20. Lalita permalink
    August 7, 2010 5:47 pm

    Excellent.

  21. Ronu permalink
    September 21, 2011 8:02 am

    Lovely story. Wonderful responses. Nothing short of inspirational. Trying to get in touch with “K” myself, to know more about The Red River. Hopefully it’ll happen soon!

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