Monday, June 01, 2020

Somerville's Preeti Mehta: Brings Textiles With Style

Preeti Mehta

Preeti Mehta is a social entrepreneur and the sole proprietor of Premaasi Textiles, a social enterprise based in Davis Square, Somerville. 

Inspired by beautiful, hand-crafted textiles worldwide during her travels, Preeti chose to indulge her passion after pursuing careers in telecommunications, management consulting and non-profit management. Premaasi’s  mission is to promote unique, hand-crafted, globally-sourced textile products in the U.S. market and to educate consumers about the value of hand-made products, the techniques used to make them and the skill of the artisans. 

Preeti had long considered a textile venture, but the idea finally coalesced on a trip to India in 2018 when she visited artisan communities in Kuchchh, Gujarat India and had a small trunk show of her purchases for friends and family.  Guests at the trunk show roundly endorsed the treasures Preeti offered, most of which had been purchased over tea and buttermilk in the homes of artisans. 

By starting this enterprise, Preeti has also been able to use Premaasi Textiles to raise awareness about ethics in clothing and advance economic opportunities for artisans, many of whom are based in rural and often marginalized parts of the countries in which Premaasi sources. 

Doug Holder: Can you talk about the artisans you promote? 

The artisans I promote have deep knowledge and skill about their particular textile craft and are diverse in the techniques used. I work with weavers, surface design artists, embroiderers and block printers many of whom are master-craftspeople, whose ancestors have been honing their crafts for generations. I work with both men and women artisans from many different rural (and often marginalized) parts of India. Their crafts are rooted in India's rich textile tradition, but have evolved to meet more modern and urban tastes and become safer for the environment. I also with a low-income women’s co-operative in southeastern Madagascar.

Preeti Mehta:  Is Somerville a good place for a small business?

Yes, I think it is, though I haven't yet had the opportunity to show my products here. I had considered applying to several pop-up opportunities for small business but all have now been cancelled due to the Coronavirus.

Doug Holder: How has your business survived during the corona virus situation?

PM: I have tried to keep expenses low, though I expect sales to be significantly lower this year. I am moving my business online much sooner than originally planned as a response to the current corona-virus situation. 

DH:  What do you envision for future?   

 PM: I'm hoping that, for all of us, this period has been a time for reflection about how we consume and how our actions affect the environment. Specifically for my business and others like mine, I'm hopeful that as people realize how the actions of fast fashion brands have affected garment factory workers both abroad (millions rendered destitute in South Asia due to cancelled orders) and in this country (LA factory workers' wages of $6 per hour exposed during the pandemic) - that they will be more likely to buy handmade and artisinal products

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