Blog

Needlework

The tak-tak-tak-tak rhythmic sewing machine pedal sounds, the hum and whirr of the pedal and motor in the second bedroom of my parents’ Andheri apartment is a familiar ‘come-home’ sound. The room is in the far end of the flat, west-facing, light and airy.  Cross-ventilated with two windows, and in my parents’ classic generous style, it is my grandparent’s bedroom. The room is fitted with two Godrej cupboards, a ‘mandir’, a queen-sized bed by the wall, and two sewing machines.

Ma’s sewing machine was newer and had an electric motor, Aie’s is a classic Singer, operated by working both feet on the metal grille in an up and down motion. The room is where sewing projects were undertaken andexecuted. My mother and my grandmother have distinct work styles. Ma sews on second Saturdays and Sundays, while Aie sews through the week in the afternoons. Ma’s projects are utilitarian – saree blouses, with neck, back, arms, bust style variations, tops, kurtas, and dresses. Innovative, swift and nimble, Ma takes pride in sewing one outfit or saree blouse on the weekend – right from the cutting and machining to the hemming and finishing. Her projects are planned ahead, tightly executed, and precise. Making no difference between work and leisure, to her a hobby or passion, is play, however hard work it might seem to others. To her it is leisure. ‘Bored’ and ‘tired’ are taboo words that will earn a severe tongue-lashing if uttered.

Trials and fittings are taken seriously. ‘Stand tall, don’t slouch, hold up your head. Let me look at you first before you strain before the mirror’ and such sharp, short crisp commands are belted out.  Much meticulous checking and re-checkingto see if the fit is perfect. No flaw is permissible.  A slight inconsistency between the two armholes, the hem of the dress, slightly misaligned, a collar that doesn’t quite sit alright, and in fraction of the second, it is taken apart, the fabric flattened and ironed, ready for repair.

Our needlework box has a coveted English ‘ripper’ with its little red plastic ball head at the end. It makes short work of ripping, and keeps the sharp point from pricking. Without any fuss, the garment is going to be pieced together again. While getting it right at first is important, she is ruthless till it becomes perfect.

Aie’s work style is more relaxed, much like her. Her presence brings instant ease with face invariably set in a quiet smile. Ma is more solemn, with a slight frown on brow, that comes with so much focus. Aie likes making baby dresses. Little lace, trim, ribbons, tiny buttons,delicate lazy daisy flowers, buttonhole middles and satin stitch leaves. Leftover fabric collected, cut into interesting patterns, set to a plan, sometimes random, some stories about the fabric, of the dress that it belonged to. Patchwork quilts big and small, evenly tacked all over the machined pieced, making the patch.

Whether swift or leisurely, Aie and Ma begin by visualising the end garment, plan for the material, source the right shade and color match with thread, use the best quality ‘two by two’ material, Coates thread, quality needles, buttons, rippers sent by Sunat akka, a cousin in Manchester, UK. ‘Wash your hands before you begin sewing. You don’t want to make the piece shabby.  Patience, perseverance, neatness and perfection, are catchwords. ‘Turn the garment wrong side out, check to see if the hemming is neat, and ‘matters is how well you’ve worked on what doesn’t show’. These are our needlework lessons for life and work. 21 years gone and the needlework  lessons remain.

 

1992 - 1996
1996
1997 - 2001
1999
2001 - 2007
2013 - 2019
1992-1996

Initiation

Deepa starts working at Hindustan Unilever Ltd., and after working there for a few years decides to take a career break to take care of her son. The family plans to move to Jamaica, and she wishes to resume working. There are not a lot of opportunities post a career break for her, and this makes her realise the plight of women all across the world who are trying to resume working after taking a break. The seed for Lumière is planted. Deepa joins J.A. Young Research Ltd. to get back to her roots, and ultimately decides to start her own firm under her CA's advise.

1996

Beginning

Start of Lumière Consultancy in Jamaica

1997-2001

Incubation

The family is aching to return to India, and post the birth of her second child, Deepa gets an offer from HUL to rejoin them. She has an itch to make it on her own, and so declines. This results in a different type of engagement between the two, and Lumière engages exclusively with HUL by expanding their scope. Deepa builds a stronghold in consumer behavior, and Lumière develops into an entity of its own. Inception of 'Consumer Centricity', which is their future key to strength, begins. With an expansion in their work, they need more resources and a group of like-minded talented professional women to join the team. Lumière gives them solace, a place to grow, rebuild their careers, and achieve goals beyond their expectations. They begin with mentoring initiatives, with an urge to inspire young individuals. People approach them through word-of-mouth, references, and to create opportunities beyong market research, Lumière becomes a Pvt. Ltd. company.

1999

Establishing

An opportunity arises to be a part of something big, to analyse the growth mindset and the creation of a best practice document for sequential recycling. Lumière makes an impact across categories and branches into Product Testing and Category Creation.

2001-2007

Invigoration

Lumière touches ₹ 1 crore. Their brochure is presented at MRSI. The company turns 10, and Milind joins the team as an observer. This becomes the phase of Lumière's upheavel: from scaling up, digitization and automation of processes, to plugging in leakages across departments and accounts. Their billings reach ₹ 3 crores.

2013-2019

Innovation

Rashmi Bansal dedicates a chapter of her book 'Follow Every Rainbow' to Deepa and Lumière. The company enters adulthood, and they facilitate change management for Lumière. The introduction of the Gallup Strengths to the portfolio is a game changer. A revamp of the technological infrastructure ensues, giving way to an articulation of Lumière 3.0.