From scratch: Mishcat Co
How many times have we transformed our mother's or grandmother's saris into a style statement of our own? Let us count the ways... But did you know that the humble sari can adorn your living room? Ishrat Sahgal of Mishcat Co transforms South Indian saris into beautiful carpets. Upcycled saris? Yes, please! Working with North Indian weavers, Mishcat Co takes the textile waste produced by the sari weaving industry and turns them into bespoke carpets. Featured in Forbes' list of 30 under 30, we spoke to Ishrat Sahgal to understand what drives her, and how she came about to use the whole nine yards in such an environmentally friendly and creative way.
1. You founded Mishcat Co 'with the goal of upcyclying leftover sari scraps into lovely carpets while simultaneously working with artisans and weavers in rural areas of Rajasthan and U.P. to support them'. What connected you to these artisans?
It is a small community of independent weavers, concentrated across neighboring villages, most of whom have not been able to move to bigger cities to work in factories and large scale production houses, due to family or land parcel constraints. I love the idea of working in a hands on, small, independent and individual way over a factory churned out commercial setting (though the latter is easier, to control timelines and costs). I find it more holistic and real, and feel very connected working with artisans in their setting, their homes, working with their situational restraints, and embrace the very real issues that may come up in doing so.
2. What is it like working with them?
Inspiring! Puts things in perspective- I learn something new every day.
3. What's your personal motto?
I don’t have one set motto I live by, but I do believe in a few things that I have tried to run Mishcat, my Interior Architecture studio, and my life by. The most important of these has always been to strive hard to find a perfect balance. Between everything I love- for me that is my family, my fiancé Manav, both my companies, friends, travel, and time for myself. In no particular order! I'm happiest and consider myself successful and inspired if all those things are in equilibrium. Another is to listen to my inner voice and intuition and question the normal, and find my own way of doing things. I feel the most successful people are those who embrace who they are and their individuality, instead of trying to replicate another's success.
4. What inspires you? Do you let it come to you or do you seek out inspiration?
Both. I try and be present in the moment wherever I am, and am always inspired by different things- it could be something I see, a conversation I have with someone, or an experience. Often times for me, intangible things inspire the tangible ones, and that energy can be felt in physical product, which is what gives it meaning.
5. What is your sustainable design process like?
We collect leftover sari yarn, hand card it into color family sorted skeins, and weave them into one of a kind hand knotted carpets. Though it is perfectly good, beautiful and luminous silk from saris, it is waste which would have otherwise been discarded. The carpets and which bit is used in each knot vary from artisan to artisan, and yarn to yarn hence making each piece unique.
6. Best career advice you've received?
You can learn something from everything you see, and everyone you meet!