After graduating from Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Kolkata, Santosh thought of working with the weaving community in Bengal. In 2010 Santosh did a self sponsored survey across Bengal which was in search of an inspirational skill which in turn would help her to start her own enterprise. This little adventure took her to areas interviewing the weaving community. She documented various weaving skills, techniques to understand the need of Design intervention. This is when Santosh came to know about “Muslin” the finest Indian fabric. The process fascinated her so much, that she decided to turn it into an enterprise.
In 2011, Santosh rented a few looms and got few weavers to work on some samples. She did her first production. The samples came out nice and so much so that Ms Purnima Rai, from Crafts Council gave her the first order. For the next two years Santosh did exhibition with Crafts Council and Dastakar, which helped them to strengthen enterprise.
In 2014, Santosh and her husband Amit took a big decision and moved from Delhi to Kolkata to establish their own creative enterprise.
SSAHA is designed as social business to promote and engage the crafts and the community. As more and more craftsmen are reluctant to practice the craft, SSAHA strives to work as a catalyst facilitating the propagation of local craft knowledge. Their objective is to create enterprises providing creative and social capital.
As Santosh describes, “Our relentless effort is to reinterpret and develop alternatives to add value wherever we find the needs to change augment or relocate our artistic vision. We believe that the alliance between craft and design as a mutual learning mechanism, where both sides can exchange knowledge and enhance their professional capabilities and empower artisans to further their own innovations. ”
SSAHA’s work revolves around the periphery of Khadi, not only because of its feel and touch, but because of the skills involved in the entire process. Santosh likes to play with the material, technique and colors, because of which they tend to, break away from traditional weaving. SSAHA blends khadi with cotton, linen, wool, jute, silks, etc. Having said that Santosh draws inspiration from the Tangail tradition of Bengal, which is different from the Bangladesh style of work.
They make Saris, Scarfs, Stoles and Yardage, home furnishing and bed linen. They also make customized garments; also take up customized weaving other than khadi.
In last three year SSAHA has worked and collaborated with Crafts Councils of India, Banglanatak.com, Dastakar, Jiyo creative and cultural Industry, and AIACA, to name some.
They have also participated in few prestigious exhibitions like Mansion D object, Paris, International Handicrafts trade Fair Florence, Italy, Alchemy London England, Artizen Singapore, and some private shows in America and Canada. They were also featured in Made in Kolkata by Fiona Caulfield, which is currently most loved guide book for foreign tourist. We are lucky to be featured by Hindu, and other newspapers like, Sannada Kolkata which Bengals leading magazine, telegraph Kolkata, DNA Chennai, etc. SSAHA is opening their first flagship store in Park Street, Kolkata which is scheduled to open in August.
To quote Santosh,
“ I am very fortunate to be a part of WE Can India. It has opened up a whole new perspective to the enterprise. As an artist sometimes my heart lies in creativity and there are many instances where we have permitted important opportunities to go by. Now I know how important a business plan is, a financial strategy with a well developed marketing preparation can take a small venture to a whole new stature. I have been asked simple questions, for which I had no answers. We have ignored lot important issues,like long-term planning, short-planning and mid-term planning, how can social media be an effective tool, Product analysis etc. I am slowly but progressively consciously thinking before taking decisions. We are now working on sudden course correction ways to bring about a synergy in our business. Rather than working on lots of things we are concentrating on our core strength of unstitched handlooms from Bengal”.