When we started Soluna Collective, our goal from the beginning has been to work with hands over machines at as many steps in the process as possible. So when we had the good fortune of stumbling across Chennimalai, we couldn’t miss the opportunity to work with them!
“To continuously enrich the value of textile heritage skills by contemporizing the use & relevance without diluting its core values.” - Chennimalai’s Mission Statement
Chennimalai was born with the purpose of sustaining the textile heritage of its village and others around it. As with many traditional hand skills in India, the turn towards machines has left gifted handloom artisans without a job. Also, the lack of work opportunities in this textile sector has meant younger generations are no longer practicing the skill. Founders Dev and Sam of Chennimalai noticed this digression and decided to do something about it. Their goal was to provide a “holistic, socio-economically conscious and eco-friendly venture that would preserve heritage skills, alleviate poverty and to give back to the community a sustainable way of living.”
The environment was always part of Chennimalai from the beginning!
- They only carry natural fabrics like (cotton, organic cotton, linen, wool and Tencel). Currently, we at Soluna Collective are using organic cotton and Tencel.
- They only work with low-impact or natural dyes that have cleared ESG Standards. All are azo-free.
- All dyeing facilities have a zero liquid discharge wastewater treatment plant on site.
- Their facility in Tamil Nadu is Green Building certified!
While Chennimalai does not hold any specific ethical standard, they meet all our ethically made principles! They also adhere to one of our New Norms principles by providing a living wage and hold some aspects of Freedom of Association however, it needs to be better documented. Our goal is to work with them to achieve this and much more!
The best part of Chennimalai’s ethical principles is that it was built in from the beginning. They started the company with the priority of providing a “sustainable way of living” to local hand loomed artisans and others practicing textile heritage. They also work with the community to build their initiatives and provide more work to a wider range of artisans.
We have been so inspired by their commitment to both eco and ethical design, that we decided to donate 1% of our sales (not profits, sales!) to helping the employees of Chennimalai and their community. At the end of the year, the employees get to decide what do with that money. They can split is evenly, invest it into a day-care center, give it to a community project, etc… They can literally do anything with it (within reason of course)!
Women Led | Inspiring Duo
A few years ago, both Dev and Sam took a step away from the business. They decided to give CEO responsibilities to Dev’s daughter Shree. And Shree is a powerhouse in her own right! Graduated with a Masters in International Business from Grenoble Graduate School for Business (GGSB France), she has also recently completed a research project on Corporate Social Responsibility by studying the model of Skills Development in the Indian Construction Industry. Shree is also deeply embedded in Chennimalai’s core values and feels that her academic training will help her - in our words - kick ass!
Oh and Chennimalai’s current CSO is Carrie Clark-Kenny. Carrie holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in Archetypal Theory and Mythological Studies from Pacifica Graduate Institute in California. She is a social entrepreneur with interests in the “transformational space between heritage skills, international commerce and the textile industry”.