Neeli Titlee was created to bridge the gap between the traditional craft of the ikat weavers of western Odisha (Sambalpur) and the growing demand for modern and well-designed sambalpuri ikat products in the contemporary market. We believe in slow fashion which is why all our products are handwoven and hand dyed with eco-friendly dyes. We use 100% natural fibers (either cotton or silk) and have committed ourselves to fair trade practices and believe in a bottom up growth.
It was in the year 2005-06 that our founder, Manisha Chawda, first came across sambalpuri ikat fabric during her 6-month long project in Barpali, Odisha, India as a textile design student. The project involved intensive craft research, market survey and design development with weaver co-operatives in the Sambalpur region. The intricacy of the craft and the beautiful ikat motifs really enticed her. She also gained an appreciation for the highly skilled bhulia weavers of the region who are artists in their own right. By the end of the project, she was hooked to the craft and was keen on pursuing it further independently. However, the lack of the real-world experience proved to be a hindrance in proceeding with her dream. She took a brief detour in the industrial sector and learnt the tricks of the trade from seasoned professionals who continued to inspire her. Eventually, she returned to the craft cluster again in 2012 armed with a strong vision to conceive a label of her own.
Initially, it wasn’t easy to build a working relationship with the weavers. She faced a lot of resistance as an outsider trying to convince them to experiment with their own craft. However, over the years the relationship has grown to be a special one where there is mutual respect and understanding. In fact, now her favorite part of the process of designing is when she gets to sit with the weavers on the loom and create new samples. She loves this hands-on approach which results in innovative designs, thanks to the synergy between the craftsman and the designer.
In 2017, Aparupa Negi, an MBA by qualification and Manisha’s bestie from high school, joined NEELI TITLEE as a consultant to provide support in marketing and business development. The collaboration was extremely successful and there was a rapid upward curve in a very short span of time. In 2018, Aparupa was invited to join us as a business partner and she happily accepted the offer. She brings in much needed structure to the operations of the label with her sharp business acumen, marketing skills and organizational abilities. Apart from these skills, she also possesses a natural inclination towards sustainable and fair trade practices - values that she inherited early on in her career while working extensively in the development sector in capacity building roles. This combination of values and skills makes her just the right fit for a slow fashion label like NEELI TITLEE.
Decoding "Neeli Titlee"
The brand name NEELI TITLEE translates to “a blue butterfly”. A butterfly is an epitome of free-spiritedness, light, happiness and spontaneity. On the other hand the color blue symbolizes the calm, limitless, ethereal sea and the sky. These attributes explain our design approach. Our designs have the dew-drop freshness of a butterfly and the sophistication of the sea and the sky.
What We Make
We experiment a lot with motifs and textures and that makes our designs unique. We translate our ideas on to select products that deserve to be made out of this intricate and classy textile. Yes, we don’t use it to make anything and everything just because it has been in vogue for a decade now. Ikats are one of the very few textiles that are reversible meaning, the motifs are seen on both sides of the fabric. We capitalize on this feature of ikats to make our product decisions.
Scarves have been the most logical product solution for us considering the fact that there is no wastage of fabric while making them and they really justify the both-sidedness of ikat. We make them in all sizes and shapes-oblong, square and larger width. You can call it a scarf, a stole or a dupatta. We love scarves because they are so versatile and make for an all-purpose accessory. Be it for warmth or for show, it adds an impeccable personality to the wearer. They can be draped in a zillion ways and that almost makes it the western equivalent of a sari.
We plan to add many more products to our portfolio in the future. Keep a watch for more ikat solutions from us. Till then drape, tie, knot and twirl in our beautiful scarves. Write to us if you want to learn exciting scarf draping styles and we promise we can teach you at least a dozen ways if not more.