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Mulya Creation Converts Discarded Flowers Into Sustainable Products, Preserves Memories

The big fat Indian wedding is a grand affair. A celebration spread over days involves a huge quantity of flowers. But have you ever thought about what happens to those flowers once the celebration is over? Such beautiful gifts of nature are just thrown away in dustbins. Tonnes of flowers are discarded across India on a daily basis, not only from weddings but from different celebrations and locations. Alisha Mandolia, a textile designer by profession, wanted to do something to give these natural beauties a longer life, and thus began Mulya Creation in 2019.

With a focus on the 3Rs - reduce, reuse and recycle - Mulya Creation works on turning plain fabric into beautiful prints, all thanks to that gift from nature – flowers. Talking about the inception of the brand Alisha Mandolia, Founder of Mulya Creation said,

Being a textile designer, I always had a love for textiles, they always fascinated me. And coming from the textile industry, I knew there are so many things that are going off in the industry. Being a responsible designer, I wanted to do something different and sustainable in the industry. Like there are alternatives that we can adopt and bring about small changes. Mulya started off as an Instagram page wherein I used to do a little bit of research, click pictures and upload on social media and we got a good response on that. So, that was the beginning of a bigger step towards Mulya.

Coming from the textile industry, Alisha wanted to put her knowledge to good use. Mulya's main aim is to create sustainable products using the best natural resources, while also giving livelihood skills to the women around them. Mulya Creation started during Covid and appointed women whose husbands lost their jobs during the pandemic. These women were trained in the process of eco-printing. Elaborating on how Mulya is empowering local women, Alisha said,

Mulya gave an opportunity to local women to join us, develop new skills and be a support in house earning and share daily expenses of the house. We got in people and gave them an opportunity to grow financially and as a person - in terms of confidence and in terms of going out. It started with women and then two, followed by working with NGOs as well. We have received a great response and we would want to grow bigger and bring in more women who can develop new skills and bring in new positive changes in their lives and be more independent.

Anjana Pokhriyal is one of the artisans at Mulya. Anjana's husband's business faced the wrath of the COVID-19 pandemic, affecting their family income. It is then Anjana stepped up to provide for her family and got support from Muya Creation. She said,

I was in need of work and they hired me. I didn't know this work, but they taught me with a lot of patience. I have been surrounded by nature all my life but I didn't know that flowers can also be used to make colours. I didn't know that we can get green colour from roses. I learned about these colours after coming here. Now whenever I go out and see a flower, I want to take it back to Mulya and print it onto fabric. My husband also supports me a lot in this.

As eco-printing, sustainable fabrics, creating value in waste and slow fashion start to appeal to more and more people, getting to even this stage of awareness has not been easy. But slow handcrafted products, of the kind that Mulya specialises in, are starting to catch on. To spread its popularity further, Mulya Creation has been participating in exhibitions and educating people. Alisha said,

I think people are pretty much aware of what is happening around like global warming and everything happening around. People are wanting to bring about changes but you have to educate them. Through my work experience, I have learned that if you sit with somebody and tell them that this is what we are doing and this will be the result of using eco-friendly clothing or sustainable clothing, they understand. It is all about how you communicate and explain the reason behind you practising eco-printing and its benefits in the future.

Mulya's latest creation is the Jaimala edition, a unique idea to preserve, what is a special memory for a bride and groom, for generations to come. Jaimala is a garland, exchanged by the bride and groom, during an Indian wedding. Explaining how Mulya is encapsulating the memory, Alisha said,

Ankita, my sister and co-founder, came up with the idea of doing something with the flowers that are going to waste during weddings, We had our friends getting married and Jaimalas are pretty expensive, and after the wedding, nobody knows where it goes, sometimes it's in the dump. But it is something very auspicious and has a lot of value to it. We kind off brainstormed and thought about what can we do to bring more value to that Jaimala, because it is not just a Jaimala. It is auspicious. After the ceremony, you kind off throw away the Jaimala and all the memories are washed away with that. We wanted to take a step to preserve it for a lifetime. We asked people to send us the Jaimala as we would use those flowers to preserve their memories with our clothing. We would follow our eco-printing techniques and convert their Jaimalas into something which remains with them and they can pass it on to their generations one after the other as well.

One such couple is Simran and Dhruv who got married in November 2021. They wanted to preserve their Jaimala beyond just photographs, and so got in touch with Alisha. The result is a couple scarf combo, made by Mulya Creation. But it isn't just young couples. Mrs Nirmala Rana has been married for close to 30 years, and had preserved her wedding Jaimala from the year 1994. It will now be turned into a beautiful scarf so it can be with her for the rest of her life.

Explaining the process of preserving Jaimalas, Alisha said,

Once we receive the Jaimala, our first step is to ask the client what exactly they want. We ask them if they want a dupatta or a stole or any clothing they want to get made out of it. As soon as they tell us we cut the fabric from our thaan (fabric roll), and put it for mordanting means we put it in Alum for overnight meanwhile we segregate the flowers. If they are pretty fresh, we keep them as it is, if they are not, we dry them in the sun. We give them the option of the base colour, like if they want it in pink, red or yellow, or if they don't want any base colour, we do it on the white fabric. Following this, we spread the fabric on the floor and put the flower petals onto the fabric, then roll it up and steam it for around two to three hours, and leave it for a day. The next day when we open up, we record the entire process and show the client how the prints have come out on the fabric.

Since Jaimalas have different kinds of flowers, the results can vary and are often unexpected, said Alisha and added,

We can't guarantee that this is the colour that will come out. Like if we base dyed it on pink, the flower will interact with the base dye and the result would be really beautiful and unexpected. That is the beauty of eco printing.

The process doesn't end here. Once the fabric is ready, the team washes it, irons it, and does the final finishing including embroidering the name and date on the piece and putting tassels. After this, a picture is sent to the client. Once approved, the final product is shipped to the client.

As the name suggests Mulya meaning value in Hindi adds value to the lives of people working with them as well as the people wearing their products. This is a true example of providing Clothes a Conscience.

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