maikai hand block print dress made in india
2017-19 marks a period of life changing moments for me. It began with the end of a year long fairytale romance which once felt like ‘the one’, followed by a big promotion at my past job and ‘the actual one’ finding me somewhere in between.

This time though, I wasn’t swept into a whirlwind of romance, like the romantic that I am. This didn’t feel like butterflies or shooting stars. It was a rather gentle brush of cold air on my neck, while I waltzed across the city of dreams, holding hands with someone that perhaps, felt like home.

Let’s save this love story for another time though, because this chapter isn't about me. It’s about you.

Here we were, my partner & I, one morning at 6 am, driving on the highway to Goa, with the memories of our past home and two kittens in the backseat.

The shift in gear from Bombay to Goa was a big one. While we were very excited to set foot on the LaLaLand, it took some time getting used to the quietude of the village. I was on a six month long sabbatical at my previous job at the time, which was to turn into a point of no return soon. For the first time in 3 years, I wasn’t working odd hours in the evening- one of the many traits of a vata dominant creative person. Of course, starting a biz was going to change that. 


As a young girl, I was drawn to my mother’s endless collection of saris and local handwoven textiles while growing up in Orissa. I had a flair for designing clothes and styling has been an integral part of personal growth in my adolescent years. 


My previous role involved me traveling to Rajasthan frequently. I supervised marketing and brand for an organisation working in social impact back then. Needless to say, making an impact has been integral to my career choices from the beginning. Jaipur was on the itinerary often, and that is when I had the opportunity to immerse in the hand block print method of making textiles. The wooden block carvings, colours and the meticulously hand crafted textiles stirred a love affair that was impossible to shake off. The move to Goa encouraged a mindful lifestyle, free from the chatter of the city. Inspired by the Susegad, sunshine and in the company of other small businesses, Maikai was born. 

 


60% of the Indian textile industry is cotton-based. Cotton is used to craft some of the most luxurious handcrafted textiles of India. The roots of my creative and personal inspiration are centred deeply around Indian culture and art forms. Through Maikai, I wish to bring the beauty of Indian cotton to the global forefront.


The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world. When I moved to Goa, the slow lifestyle here encouraged me to reevaluate the way in which we consume. It started with the reduction of plastic waste, switching to greener alternatives and eventually rethinking the way I consumed fashion. I came across resources, followed slow fashion advocates and educated myself. Therefore, when Maikai was born, I knew that I wanted it to be ethical and mindful from the start. If one wants to create a sustainable consumer, they need to be a sustainable producer first.


In 2019, when sustainable fashion was the next big thing in India, ‘made to measure’ brands were not mainstream at all. Today, we see many emerging small businesses with this model, thus creating a newer definition of slow fashion. I can confidently say that, through Maikai, you have been a huge part of creating this culture. 


Talking about sustainability, I'd like to shine some light on facts that are often overlooked in a narrower definition. Sustainable fashion isn't just about the quality and quantity of production, it is also about how it is produced and consumed. We often read about wage gaps in fast fashion. Many fast fashion giants aren't paying living wages to garment workers, hence they can't sustain their livelihood. If you look it up, there are plenty of articles with insights on this issue. To me, being ethical should be at the core of any business if you want to make it truly sustainable. Maikai is community centric. A percentage of our maximum retail price goes to our fabric makers and artisans first. Through bespoke clothing we encourage people who choose Maikai to be sure about clothes that they are buying. Maikai Girls love the fact that our roots are traditional, silhouettes are modern and the pieces are made exclusively for them. Couture, isn't it?


I consider myself to be an active person. I love to move, dance and lift. My personal quest of finding the right fit and fabric in sports bras encouraged me to design my very own. Micro plastic from active wear is a pressing issue, while the fits have been a compromise. The lockdowns gave me an opportunity to delve deeper into the knowledge and practise of yoga. This was also the time when I sampled our first 'yoga bra'. Yes, that was my first choice of name as this sports bra was a part of a 3 piece yoga set that I had made- one for me and one for a girlfriend. We had both met and become friends earlier that year, during our yoga teacher training in Goa. I put up stories of me wearing the set online and the amount of enquiries that I received for the sports bra were overwhelming.  

Women loved it. I put up a small collection of ready sizes to order a few weeks later and it was sold out in hours. We made the second and the third collection and it was sold out too. The feedback that I received on the fabric, feel and fit was incredible. Women wrote to me sharing how grateful they were that such a product exists. It felt like we were onto something here. This was an innovation and it was doing exactly what I needed it to do- bringing meaningful impact. I initiated the patent(design registration) process immediately. We finally got the approval earlier this year! It brings me immense pride knowing that the Maikai sports bra is now chosen by hundreds of women.


I want every woman to be the most fun, fierce and feminine version of themselves. I want you to feel radiant in your skin knowing that your clothing is made just for you. Wear your Maikai with pride knowing that you have supported the lives of people that have made your clothes for you.

Maikai is What Goddesses Wear.

Wearing the Amore dress, Postcards from Goa, Vol 2.

June 09, 2022 — Vidya Sethi