COVID-19: Sustainable, skin-friendly masks from women weavers of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana

The COVID-19 lockdown has been a harsh one for the handloom sector, with shares piling up and weavers and craftspeople discovering fewer job orders than ever. Unlock has opened up avenues for e-commerce and real-time retail procuring however these within the sector state that it’ll take time for brand spanking new orders to return in. Meanwhile, just a few weaver clusters are exploring various supply of revenue by producing masks. Hyderabad-based Creative Bee Foundation has been serving to women weavers in Koyyalagudam district in Andhra Pradesh produce washable masks made of natural cotton.

“We have been working with women weavers in this region and it’s been a tough time for all. With the help of like-minded donors and NGOs, ₹1000 was provided to 350 weavers to help their families make essential purchases during the lockdown. There has been a need to rethink the work pattern,” says Bina Rao of Creative Bee.

Many looms in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have been idle in the course of the lockdown, however the women started studying to make use of the present material to provide good high quality masks. The masks made by these women have an interior layer of natural cotton that’s skin-friendly. The outer layer makes use of kalamkari block print, ikat or shibori material. “If we have to wear masks through the day when we are out or at work, the masks need to be comfortable. Organic cotton fabric ensures breathability and is easy on the skin, without causing allergic reaction,” says Bina.

A stole with a masks hooked up, by Creative Bee  
| Photo Credit:
By arrangement

She hopes to get bulk orders from corporates to step up the workflow amongst 120 women in Koyyalagudem. “We want to make 10,000 masks. Currently, 120 women are involved in various steps of making the masks and we have 15 sewing machines. We plan to involve women weavers in Puttapaka (in Nalgonda district, Telangana) soon,” provides Bina.

The masks can be found in numerous kinds and priced from ₹35 to ₹65. In addition, for fashion-conscious women there are stoles with inbuilt fabric masks, priced at ₹500 every.

There have been comparable initiatives by handloom cooperatives in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, just like the Abhihaara social enterprise, to assist weavers earn by producing reusable, sustainable masks.

(For enquiries, e mail [email protected] or [email protected] or name +91 6303157791)

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