The Visible Tailoring Centre team: what we do and who we are!
|Born in a small village in the Indian state of Bihar, Tinku received very little formal schooling, and started training as a tailor at the age of 15. Even as a child, Tinku wanted to sew, and was inspired by the impeccable style and beautiful clothes of the wealthier members of his village. Tinku has worked in a handful of tailoring jobs including a Mumbai fashion factory for 7 years. During his time in the factory, Tinku worked hard in poor conditions. Like many factories in India, Tinku's workplace had no facilities and very dark, dirty rooms with poor ventilation. His supervisor was never present and didn't care about the welfare of the employees. Tinku prefers his work at the Visible Tailoring Centre as he says there is the potential to learn a lot more and the staff members are friendly and treat him with respect. He enjoys making all of the styles, as he feels it makes him a better tailor and he can continue to learn and grow.|
|Swati is one of our amazing tailors and is keen to keep developing in her skill. As a member of the Fair Trade committee she helps ensure all our decisions are in line with Fair Trade principles.|
|Sureshna, our wonderful cook, is joyous and extremely popular. She makes and serves the tea and break times and does any job which she sees needs doing, including helping Bittu in the fabric store room, and assisting with some hand stitching.|
|Shushma is head of handstitching and has a fabulous and rather cheeky sense of humour. Sushma has always loved sewing, and owns her own sewing machine, making all her own clothes as well as clothes for her children, curtains, cushions, decorations and homewares. Shushma is proud to have a job and enjoys the independence that working provides.|
|Steph is our talented, driven, and compassionate Head of Design who is motivated to change the world through fashion benefiting everyone in supply chains, and creating environmentally sustainable approaches to everything we do. Recently moved back from India to the UK, Steph regularly spends time at the tailoring centre.|
|Shamin is one of our oldest and best tailors, and is on our sampling team helping bring new designs to life. He has a good sense of humour and loves Dharamsala as he has a good job and enjoys the weather, compared to his home in Bengal where ''it's far too hot all year round''. From Fatepur village in West Bengal. Shamin came to Dharamsala looking for work, and has since bought his two brothers and eight cousins to the team, providing us with a very valuable and talented workforce!|
|Sheetal is very hard working, who started working with us to help support her family. She started as a trainee in the handstitching room and soon moved on to assisting the embroidery man, hand bead work, and packing, as well as helping prepare orders for dispatch. Mastering so many tasks, her intelligence and determination has made her indispensable in the team. Sheetal says she likes feeling useful, respected and appreciated. Sheetal is on our Fair Trade committee ensuring that everything that happens at the tailoring centre is in accordance with the 10 principles of Fair Trade.|
|Sanju, our Jack-of-all-trades, is a local Indian from Dharamsala. Although technically he is in charge of packing and shipping your lovely packages, Sanju's work only begins there. Sanju is the fixer. He is the guy we rely on to fix anything broken. Something wrong with the light switch, the heater, the generator, your office chair, the curtain rod, the garden fence - Sanju will figure out a way to make it work! And when a kid is crying in the middle of a photo shoot? ''Sanju! We need you!''|
|Sakhil is well known for his patience and nice smile, and is an excellent tailor. His older brothers are Jamil and Tinku, who have been responsible for his excellent training. Growing up in West Bengal, the Ansari family owned a small farm (one acre) on which they grew rice and wheat. The boys' parents both suffered from reoccurring illnesses and the three boys worked hard, completing odd jobs and tending to the farm, trying to earn enough money to live on. Sakhil started training as a tailor in his village when he was 14, and then moved to Mumbai, to join his brother Tinku who was working in a factory there. In 2008 he moved to Dharamsala and joined our team. Sakhil says he likes working at the Visible Tailoring Centre, as all the employees are friends. He appreciates being paid on time, as well as the job security that he has.|
|Quiet and hard working, Ram is our Cutting Master, and cuts most of our Internet orders. He has a photographic memory for all our prints, and magically knows where all the patterns are, thus ensuring endless queries from other staff throughout the day! Originally from Nepal, Ram started working for us as a cleaner. He soon graduated to watchman, then cook, and then cutter - a job he has excelled at; so much so, he is now head of his section. His gentle yet practical demeanour has made him popular with the staff and tailors alike.|
|Madan Lal is our ever so friendly cleaner and general handyman. In his 60's he's our oldest employee and is well liked by all the staff and tailors, who affectionately refer to him as Uncle Ji (Ji being a term of respect in Hindi). He always has a smile on his face - except when he catches the children playing with his neatly stored bags of off-cuts, which he collects for local women to make into rag rugs. He himself is a local Gaddi from Dharamsala, and although his family is no longer nomadic, he still has a small farm with a few sheep.|
|Meenu has a good sense of fun, and can always be seen smiling and laughing. She was promoted from hand stitching to conducting quality control, which she excels at. Meenu comes from a military family; her father was a major in the Indian Army and spent a lot of time in Sri Lanka and Angola while Meenu was growing up. Meenu is married with an 8 year old daughter and is proud to have a job, as her mother was a housewife and never worked. Apart from family life, Meenu is passionate about fashion; she loves jewellery and clothes and has a vast collection of shoes! She usually makes her own salwar chemises (the traditional long loose top and cotton pants worn by women in North India) but loves to shop at the local markets.|
|Rajini grew up with her parents and four siblings in a small village called Sendri in the Madhya Pradesh region. She learnt to sew at our tailoring centre where she has worked for the past three years. Her husband also works on the team, and they have a young boy who attended the free creche. Rajni loves listening to music and is very happy working at the Visible Tailoring Centre as her skills improve day by day.|
|Hard working and strong, Mahinder operates the button hole machine, as well as taking care of the garden. When Mahinder was six months old his mentally ill father disappeared and has never been heard of since. As a result Mahinder left school in year eight to help earn money for the family, first becoming a builder's assistant and later working in a shop. Today he is a corner post of the workshop, and can be relied upon at all times to be helpful and willing to tackle any job, no matter how big!|
|Lovely, appropriately nicknamed, has one of the loveliest smiles in the team (maybe in Dharamsala!). She finds the town very peaceful compared to her home village in bustling Punjab state. She moved here after divorcing her abusive husband, which was not easy as she received no family help, but Lovely was determined to support herself and her son on her own terms. She's well respected on the badminton court, winning the ladies singles tournament, and dreams of re-marrying and travelling the world with a handsome man at her side!|
|Manoj, with his lovely warm smile and helpful nature, is a pleasure to have in the team. He comes from a small rural village in West Bengal, where he learnt to sew as a teenager. He moved to Delhi as a young adult, hoping to earn more money to send to his parents in Bengal. There he met Shamin and Jamil, and after several difficult years working in different factories in Delhi, he followed his friends to Dharamsala and joined our team. Manoj says that he dreams of having his own workshop in Bengal one day, but enjoys the atmosphere of the tailoring centre and the fact that he has a lot of friends here.|
|Kalam grew up with his parents and three siblings in the small village of Basirghaat in West Bengal. He adopted his brother's two daughters due to his brother's personal reasons. He stopped school at grade 10 due to his family's financial situation. Kalam began learning to stitch at the age of 11 and has worked in Mumbai for 8 years, Calcutta for 2, and Delhi for a further 2. He has been working with us for the past 5 years, and always says how much he prefers working at the Visible Tailoring Centre to anywhere else he has worked. Kalam is not married and would like to have a love marriage. He loves good food and really enjoys watching and playing football (soccer).|
|One of our oldest tailors, Jamil was born in a small rural village in the Indian state of Bihar, moving to Delhi as a teenager in search of work. </p><p> After many years of working in different factories, his cousin, Shamin, suggested he come to Dharamsala to work with us. He now works along side his two brothers, Sakhil and Tinku, who joined our workshop shortly after him. He is well liked and respected by the other staff and tailors, and is consulted at the beginning of each new season for advice on garment construction.|
|Idrish comes from a family of tailors in Bengal in the West of India, learning to sew in his father's tailoring shop as a teenager. He worked with his father for 10 years alongside his two younger brothers, Shamin and Armin, before moving to Delhi, hoping to find better-paid work. After working in several large factories, Idrish moved to Dharamsala. He was soon followed by his other brother, Armin, and several of his cousins! He says he loves the atmosphere of the team and the fact that he is working alongside his brothers and cousins, but regrets that fact that his two sons have to remain with their grandparents in Bengal- the reason being that there are no schools in Dharamsala that teach Bengali, their native tongue.|
|Have you ever wondered who labels and folds all our clothes so neatly? Meet Jagdish, our wonderful 'packing man'. Jagdish is a local Gaddi from Khanyara (a small village about 10 minutes away from Dharamsala). He is one of our longest serving employees, and prior to working with us he worked as a stone cutter (on building sites), but was unable to support his family on the meagre wages. Initially Jagdish's hands were so rough and calloused that the fabric would catch on his fingers - especially the silk - and he had a terrible time trying to fold anything! He has since mastered the tricky art of folding to perfection, and has saved enough to build his own house.|
|Bridget is our wonderful customer service representative for Eternal Creation (www.eternalcreation.com), one of Visible's other brands where her personal and dedicated approach ensure high levels of customer satisfaction. Bridget's compassion and determination help all members of the team apply Fair Trade principles to everything they do. She has lived in Dharamsala for many years and we couldn't imagine life at the tailoring centre without her!|
|Israil is our talented Embroidery Master. Israil comes from a remote village in Jharkand, a newly formed state that was formerly part of Bihar in North India. but at 13 he moved to West Bengal and began his training in embroidery under a local embroidery master. Five years later, and just 18 years old, Israil moved to Delhi where he worked as an embroiderer for 11 years. Whilst most Indians from village backgrounds find Delhi (pronounced Dilli in Hindi) to be chaotic and overwhelming, Israil however, very much enjoyed his time in the Capital. Israil says that in Hindi, 'dil' means heart and that 'Dilli' means ''good heart''. Israil enjoys working with us because he has more free time and less stress.|
|Bittu was our wonderful and talented team cook but has now graduated to the position of fabric store manager, due to his immaculate attention to detail. Before joining us Bittu worked in a local momo shop. Momos are a traditional Tibetan dish, a type of dumpling that is filled with either meat or vegetables, and eaten with chilli and/or soy sauce. Bittu used to makes them for the team on Tibetan festivals, so now he's not a cook anymore, we all really miss them! Bittu is a Sikh, but still enjoys celebrating all the Hindu holidays, and has an uncanny knack of predicting the weather several weeks in advance!|
|Prior to joining the team, Ismail worked as a tailor in a large factory in Delhi for over 10 years, and is one of our most experienced employees. Originally from West Bengal, 1500 km from Dharamsala, he comes from a family of ten children, most of whom are tailors! He's responsible for training many of the new tailors and specialises in jersey and knit wear. He says he prefers the environment of the tailoring centre compared to Delhi: he feels relaxed here and able to express himself, feeling like he is part of a large family. Ismail's head of the tailoring room, and although the position commands much authority and respect, he much prefers sewing to giving orders! He's also one of the stars of the workshop football team!|
|Hassan left school early to care for his siblings and worked in Calcutta and Delhi for 14 years before joining Visible. Hassan is an extremely skilled tailor and works very hard. He is married with one child and enjoys watching cricket and movies.|
|Bhola's fantastic sense of humour and easy going nature is a delight to have in the team. He works as a sample tailor, meaning he makes the initial designs, which often require constant alterations until the final design and fit are perfected. He dreams of having a garment business in Calcutta near his family home, and plans to send his only daughter to University. He enjoys running, and regularly scales a nearby mountain with Bridget before work!|
|Bablu is an only child, and his father died in a fight when he was six months old. He learnt to sew when he was ten, and has been working as a tailor ever since, supporting his wife and three children as well as his mother, who doesn't have access to a pension. Since joining us, Bablu worked as a sample tailor, and was then taught to make patterns. He's extremely talented at this, having a good feel for the shape and structure of garments after so many years of making them. He plans to have his own tailoring business one day in Fatepur village, where his mother lives, so he can be close to her in her old age.|
|Tenzin Tselha grew up in the Tibetan settlement of Tashijong, which is approximately 2 hours drive from Dharamsala. On weekends he rides his motorbike to visit his parents (and his brothers, four dogs and two rabbits!). The Tashijong Monastery is well known as one of the larger and more beautiful monasteries in the area, set by a river and surrounded by lush green forests. Tselha has been part our team since 2009, and is grateful for the diverse workforce. We have recently trained Tselha to be a photographer and we are all delighted with the progress he is making in taking both flat shots and model shots. He is a real team player which everyone massively appreciates!|
|Sonam, whose name means 'luck', is from the remote region of Zanskar, near Ladakh in Northern India. Zanskar is a high, arid valley surrounded by spectacular mountains, and has little road access or contact with the outside world. Tibetan Buddhism is the main religion. As a child, Sonam worked on the family farm during the short summers. In the winter, when temperatures dropped to minus 30 degrees celsius, the family would stay indoors and wrap themselves in sheep skin blankets to help keep out the cold. The animals stayed below them on the ground floor, their body heat rising through cracks in the floorboards. She has a son with her Indian husband - He is called Ayush by his Indian family and Tenzin Chodar (the name given to him by His Holiness the Dalai Lama) by his Tibetan family.|
|Tinku grew up locally and lives with his Mother. Sadly, he lost his father whilst he was very young. He has two sisters who are married and also had a brother who died 10 years ago in a car accident.
In his childhood he wanted to become a Police Officer but had to leave school before he finished his education. Tinku has worked on the team for the past 4 years as a pressing man. He learnt to press within the workshop. He loves to work in our tailoring centre as he gets a very friendly atmosphere here.
Now he is 30 years old and he wants to have an arranged marriage and he wants his mum to choose a girl for him. He loves to listen to music, playing cricket and travelling. One day he wants to have a taxi as he loves to drive and to visit new places.
|Sanzila grew up in a small village in Nepal. She left her studies after the death of her father so that she could help her mum to raise her sister. She got married to one of our employees, Ram, 4 years ago and they have one baby girl. She learnt to sew within the workshop after she got married to Ram.
She loves to work here because of the great atmosphere in the workshop. She loves to listen Hindi and Nepali Songs, Travelling and watching TV. One day she wants to have her own tailoring Shop In Nepal.
|Raman was born locally and faced extra challenges growing up as he is unable to speak or hear. His sister sadly passed away in 2007 and his Mum in 2013. In his family he lives with his father and two brothers. In spite of not being able to hear or speak, he studied until 9th standard. Unfortunately he wasn't allowed to continue studying after that, as there were no specialist schools available. Due to his disability he realised stitching was a good option for him, so he started learning how to sew. Raman is a hugely valued member of the team and is a very talented tailor. He loves to watch Wrestling and Cricket. His family want him to get married and his uncle is currently finding a wife for him.|