The Women Behind Our Clothes
We would love to introduce you to the beautiful women that our pieces and prints in the Devi Collection are named after.
These are just a few of the many women we hope to introduce you to as our label, collections and non-profit partnerships grow.
Married at 11 | Cancer at 16 | Divorced at 18
When I met her, she was just like any other 18 year old should be - carefree, fun-loving and just living her best life. Constantly giggling with her girlfriends while learning and earning at Sambhali, she was full of non-stop jokes, the biggest chatterbox and an incredible sass queen! With such a bright, bubbly personality, you would never know the unimaginable hardships she has been through already at such a young age.
At the age of 15 she came to Sambhali Trust desperately seeking help and hope, where they took her in wholeheartedly and with open arms. Here, among many other things, she was taught maths, sewing and English - such vital and empowering skills which have allowed Parveen to help herself out of poverty, ending a viscous cycle that’s been ongoing for generations.
Sambhali also helped to pay for Parveen’s medical expenses as she battled cancer at the very young age of 16. Now in remission, she has a beautiful zest for life - ready to take on the world and determined to help other women and girls in her community.
The gorgeous skirt in our collection is named “Parvi” after her. Such an incredible, inspiring young woman.
The head sewing teacher and manager of the Sambhali Graduate Sewing Centre - our beautiful non-profit partner in India. At only 31 years of age, Kavita has already dedicated over 10 years of her life to this amazing organisation and has helped hundreds of vulnerable women and girls gain social and economic independence through invaluable skills development and employment.
The sewing centre is a safe haven, a happy place and a second home for these women who often face many adversities and hardships in their private lives. Having seen it with my own eyes, the women here truly look forward to each and everyday with their “sisters” and their inspirational teacher, Kavita, at the sewing centre. Kavita has a massive heart, with an incredible amount of patience and compassion as she teaches the women how to sew to a professional production standard.
When my grandmother was alive, she used to say "Chamani, there are many angels on Earth - these are your parents and teachers." Kavita truly is an angel on Earth and we’re so blessed to be working with her and her team of wonder-women at Sambhali Trust.
Our Kavi dress is named after her as a dedication to a beautiful human - a role model to many and a true inspiration to us all.
An incredible woman with such a beautiful, positive, zen nature. When you are around her, you truly feel like you are floating in the clouds with an angel. She’s always, ALWAYS smiling, and because of that you would almost think her life must be perfect.
But behind the smile, is an incredible amount of burden and hardship that she deals with every single day.
She is a mother of three sons and also the primary caregiver to her brother-in-laws three daughters. One of her sons was born with cerebral palsy and as result is a quadriplegic and unable to speak. She wakes up every day before 5am to tend to him, place him in care and to cook for her household of 13, before she heads off for her morning job as a cleaner. After that, she goes to the Sambhali sewing studio where she spends the rest of the day with her “sisters”. This is her happy place where she can leave her troubles at the door, even if for a short while, and be carefree.
Unfortunately some of Rekha’s extended family suffer from alcoholism, so she never knows what she is walking into when she comes home to them every night after work. She once again cooks for the family, tends to her disabled son, helps the other kids with their school work and gets them to bed before she cleans and finally heads to bed herself. She often won’t sleep until midnight.
Rekha told me that she has been at Sambhali for over ten years and without them, she wouldn’t be able to make ends meet. They help her carry the burden and pay for all her sons medical bills and medications and have given her other children scholarships for their schooling.
When you learn her story and what she deals with everyday, you can’t help but be in absolute awe of her constant positivity. The wrap top in our collection is named after Rekha as a dedication to another amazingly strong, inspiring woman.
A true survivor. Disabled by Polio, Enabled by determination.
Contracting and surviving polio at a young age, Mumtaj was left with a permanent disability in her legs. When she sits at a sewing machine though, you honestly would never know because she sews so incredibly.
Mumtaj is simple in her ways, very softly spoken, but full of such beauty and surprises! I remember watching her in awe as she meticulously sewed a sample of mine to absolute perfection, despite the movement in her legs being hindered.
Due to the physical barriers that come with her disability and battling it’s social stigma too, finding a paid job was incredibly difficult for Mumtaj - but she remained determined and never gave up.
Her life changed when she found our beautiful partner charity, Sambhali. They saw the incredible potential and drive in Mumtaj straight away. They trained her to be one of their best seamstresses and also gave Mumtaj her first real job.
Here, she was able earn money to help her kids through school, found a second home with her ‘sisters’ at Sambhali and for the first time, was not defined by her disability. She finally had economic independence and a new sense of purpose and hope. A dream come true.
The pants in our collection are named after Mumtaj. Another amazing woman that we feel so blessed to have met. Just like Mumtaj, our pants are a simple, yet beautiful piece that’s full of surprises!
MEET AMY, TARA AND THI
The beautiful humans and the dedicated dream team of three from The Social Studio making our garments for our DEVI Collection.
Amy and Thi are two of their talented machinists making your forever pieces and Tara is the production manager who provides guidance to the manufacturing team and oversees all the garment-making. Our three custom artisanal prints in our DEVI collection are named after each one of these ladies as a dedication to the beautiful, talented hands and dream team behind our products!
The Social Studio is devoted to improving the lives of our refugee and migrant population here in Australia, who often face many barriers to education and employment. They provide some of our most vunerable Australians invaluable training and work experience in fashion, manufacturing and retail.
This is a cause very close to my heart as my parents were migrants here to Australia from a war-torn Sri Lanka. I grew up watching them struggle to make ends meet. Opportunities seemed few and far between for them as migrants, so it’s lovely to be able to support and partner with a wonderful cause helping people just like them while we make beautiful timeless, purposeful pieces for you to wear.
Devi - in the ancient and sacred language of Sanskrit, Devi is the word for goddess.
At the very beginning, before I knew anything about what my business model would look like or even what the first collection would look like, I knew the collection would be called Devi.
Our label is a dedication to all women and ‘DEVI’s’ out there. We want YOU feel like an absolute goddess while wearing our gorgeous, forever pieces but we also want to pay homage to the beautiful goddesses whose talented hands manifested fashion magic to create them. There is simply no better word that encapsulates the very essence of why we exist or to describe the incredible women that we wish to honour through our purpose-driven brand.
Coincidently but SO perfectly Devi was also the middle name of my grandmother Chandra Devi – the absolute epitome and definition of a goddess in my eyes and my guardian angel in heaven. I grew up inspired by her worldliness and her incredible generosity - she had the biggest heart out of anyone I knew. She had a boundless will to help those in need and her ability to uplift anyone, especially women around her, was incredible.
She also had the most incredible fashion sense. Never worried about trends or what others were wearing, she had her own sense of style and her clothes were always so timeless. She was always dressed so beautifully and her wardrobe was full of gorgeous colours, patterns and stunning handcrafted heirlooms that so effortlessly exuded elegance and sophistication when worn. She was and is the perfect muse that represents everything we are about and my inspiration.
May you always look and feel like a goddess while wearing our forever pieces knowing that every DEVI in our value-chain and beyond is honoured, appreciated and loved.