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SLOWCOLOR promotes green life-style
Apr '11
Socially conscious, fashion-savvy consumers can now wrap themselves in hand-loomed/eco-sustainable clothing and help support one of India's endangered artisanal industries with a simple visit to the newly launched SLOWCOLOR website.

The scarves are 100 percent natural linen and come in several rich, earth-toned colors including blue, grey, rose, green and brown. All SLOWCOLOR dyes are environmentally safe and non-toxic and are made from Ayurvedic herbs and native plants, roots and woods such as madder (called manjistha in India), jatropha curcas (called ratanjyot in India) and terminalia chebula (called myrobalan in India). SLOWCOLOR's artisan work is done in the open air using centuries-old weaving and fabric-dyeing techniques, manually powered spinning wheels and handlooms.

SLOWCOLOR was founded by Boulder-based entrepreneurs Sanjay Rajan and Jala Pfaff to “harness the power of the marketplace in order to shift the attitudes toward environmental degradation and social inequalities.” SLOWCOLOR – whose social enterprise partners' facilities are in Hyderabad, India – is devoted to environmentally sustainable practices, to implementing fair trade policies that enhance the well-being of the socially disadvantaged and to providing its employees valuable skills and employment at four times the typical wage paid to weavers in the region.

“We want to inspire people to change how they think about clothing and realize that our choices – even our fashion choices – can impact the lives of people around the world,” Sanjay said. “Knowing where our clothing comes from and how it's made matters. Respect for our fellow people and the natural world is vital because we are all connected.”

Sanjay, who grew up in Hyderabad, moved to the U.S. in 1992. He was inspired to found SLOWCOLOR six years ago when he visited his home country and learned that the way of life for millions of India's handloom weavers — and the craft's rich tradition — is vanishing. Global competition from power looms means a weaver's wage can no longer support a family. With once-proud master weavers unable to support their families, the rate of suicide among this population has seen a marked increase. SLOWCOLOR was incorporated in Colorado in 2010.

Linen was chosen as the fabric because it is made from flax, an environmentally sustainable crop that needs much less water than cotton and requires almost no pesticides.

“Beauty is also important – especially the beauty of linen, one of the most ancient and beloved textiles,” said Jala. “Natural fibers, natural color and the durability of linen reflect a respect for people, product and environment that is lacking in our modern day culture of quickly manufactured synthetic factory goods.”

Sanjay added: “In addition to supporting sustainable and environmentally friendly business practices and producing a beautiful and 100 percent natural, non-toxic product, SLOWCOLOR is about fair trade. Webelieve that business can be an agent for change and for benefitting the world. At SLOWCOLOR we practice sustainability in everything we do.”

Sanjay and Jala plan to expand SLOWCOLOR's collection by adding other clothing items throughout 2011. The collection will always consist of one-of-a-kind limited edition products handmade by handloom weavers and natural dyers.


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