"I knew I wanted to work in a profession that helped rural artisans and, at the same time, developed my interest in textiles and natural dyes."
"Anything natural and organic inspires me. I love to work with natural materials and develop designs with our cultural identity. I also help social causes by providing employment to rural artisans. My husband and I support the environment by using organic and natural dye products and a minimal use of electrical energy at our design center. In fact, all our designs reflect traditional Indian techniques and Indian cultural identity.
"We have been actively involved in promoting the rich weaves of the Indian handloom and converting them into a fusion of traditional and contemporary designs. An innovative and creative use of organic and natural dyes make them globally marketable.
"I'm Bina Rao and I was born in Valsad in Gujarat. I grew up amid mango groves on my grandfather's estate in Dhamdachi village. I was always fond of music, art, drawing and poetry and this led me to a master's degree in fine arts. As I grew up, I became interested in hand-weaving, texture and natural colors and undertook a program in textile designing at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad.
"I knew I wanted to work in a profession that helped rural artisans and, at the same time, developed my interest in textiles and natural dyes. My husband, Siva Kesav Rao, is an expert in designing, painting and block printing. He is also a practicing artist using oil on canvas and natural dye on silk, among other media.
"Together, we set up our design studio in 1998 and promote designs belonging to our Indian heritage.
"We now provide fulltime employment to some 100 to 150 artisans, and collaborate with approximately 200 part-time artisans when needed to carry out special assignments.
"Over the years, I have taught the technique and craft to many artisan groups from India and other countries such as Malaysia, Australia and Sri Lanka. Since 1996, we've conducted a ten-day workshop in which artisans and resource people are given a hands-on course on how to develop and use hand-spun materials and organic/natural dyes. I have also served as a consultant for a number of government and private export groups. Our constant effort to exalt the field of textiles and handlooms has made us a high-profile hub of design and fashion activity.
"Our work has been exhibited in India and abroad, including Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, the 2002 Color Congress in Iowa, and the World Eco-Fibre and Textile Art Exhibition.
"By using 100% environmentally friendly products that are all processed by hand, shoppers and artisans can work together in creating a world community that supports the small, rural and individual artist while preserving traditional arts and designs."