How it all began
In the early 1990s in the tea-growing hilly region of Munnar, Kerala, the first round of graduates of the DARE school run by our parent project Srishti Trust began to emerge.
The Srishti Trust, supported by TATA Global Beverages Limited, runs programs for the education training and rehabilitation of the differently abled children of Munnar’s tea plantation workers. But the newly minted graduates of these programs had few opportunities for employment in the area and would have to migrate to the plains to find work.
After doing extensive research into what we could do to fill this gap, we discovered the field of natural dyeing. At that time, most commercial dyers in India ignored the nation’s wealth of local techniques, instead using potentially carcinogenic chemicals like azos that were harming the environment.
No organization in the country had fully explored the area of natural dyes and the very few centres that made them didn’t follow environmentally sound processes.
We realised that adopting conscientious practices to create naturally dyed products would ensure the survival of not only natural dyeing techniques, but also the livelihoods of our community.
We decided we would be the first movers in this space and build a model for responsible eco-friendly processes, quality, and providing well-paying employment to differently abled young people.
With inputs from experts and our own research, in 1994, Aranya Natural was born.
Have a look at the amazing work our sister projects are doing!
Athulya, a vocational training centre and recycled paper-making unit, trains differently abled young people to make stationery and handmade paper.
This bakery and confectionery that makes breads, cookies, rolls, and biryanis is run by speech impaired and differently abled bakers who were trained at the Taj President, Mumbai under Chef Ananda Solomon.
Srishti’s strawberry unit employes speech and hearing impaired young people who make foodie’s delights like the well-known all natural High Range Strawberry Preserve, High Range Guava, High Range Plum Jams and High Range Passion Fruit Sauce that are packed with real fruit and full of natural flavour.
Vatika or The Garden
An inspired initiative of Srishti, The Garden uses the therapeutic power of nature to rehabilitate physically fit young adults with severe mental challenges. Organic seasonal vegetables flourish under the care of these young people and are used in the Srishti canteen where nearly two hundred employees have lunch every day. The Garden’s flowers win local and district level flower shows every year.
Twenty-five years later
Our focus on creating non-toxic environmentally friendly and azo-free dyes and fabrics has made us one of the most recognized brands in the natural dyeing world. Everything we have learnt and continue to learn on this journey has made us passionate advocates for natural dyes. They are key to the richest, most vivid colours, and an environmentally sound, sustainable future for fashion.
Quality at our core
The secret to our success has always been our obsession with quality. With patience, skill and meticulous attention to detail, our artisans carefully select the finest raw materials and keep a watchful eye on every step in the dyeing process to produce a range of striking or subtle hues and an end product that meets stringent international standards. To do this we concentrate on:
We scour the country for the highest quality natural fabrics like cotton and silk that work best with natural dye.
Using pure, soft water
Being in Munnar gives us unique access to sparkling natural streams and an abundant supply of soft, chemical-free water to create true-to-life colours that cannot be attained in any urban environment.
The South Indian Textile Research Association certifies Aranya Natural’s colours as ‘excellent’ for their fastness, a certification that qualifies us for international trading.
Our sophisticated roller dyeing calendaring, hydro extraction, powdering, indigo vat and jigger dyeing machinery result in even colors for large orders. We use industrial gas for fast paced and high quality dyeing.
Taking care of our environment
We’ve designed every process at Aranya Natural to be environmentally-friendly. Our artisans are careful not to disturb the delicate balance of Munnar’s ecosystem and only gather fallen leaves, flowers, and seeds from the forest floor to create our natural dyes. We channel our waste water into an effluent treatment tank and recycle it for use in our garden project. The residue from our raw materials is made into manure and by-products like tea fibre are turned into handmade paper at our sister project Athulya.
Our work’s been getting noticed
Winner of 2 National Awards
2017, 1st International Craft Awards
Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, Cabinet Minister for Women and Child Development for the Government. of India, presented Aranya Natural with this award for its outstanding contribution to the craft sector.
2017, Nari Shakti Puraskar
Received the highest civilian honor for women in India presented by Smt. Maneka Gandhi, Minister of Women and Child Development.
The exemplary grit and determination to rise above their physical challenges have moulded and defined these youngsters to become the confident young men and women you see today. Their hard work and keenness to learn have given them the wonderful opportunity to travel from the small town of Munnar to the biggest cities in the world.
They have travelled far and wide to learn and share the beautiful art and technique of natural dyeing. They have attended exhibitions and seminars internationally in US, France, Italy, Malaysia, London and Japan as well as in many cities within India. The talented youngsters have also conducted dyeing demonstrations in Malaysia, Hyderabad and Kolkata.
International & National seminars
- Shibori Symposium at the Textile Center of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA in 2008.
- Knitting and Stitching show 2008 at Alexandra Palace, London in 2008.
- Textile workshop at Puglia, Italy in 2010.
- International Symposium and Exhibition ISEND 2011 at La Rochelle, France in 2011.
- ISEND – WEFT 2012 at Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia in 2012.
- Shibori workshop at Arimatsu, Japan in 2013.
- 11th International Shibori Symposium cum exhibition at Japan in 2018.
- International symposium/workshop on Natural Dyes at Hyderabad in 2006.
- Sutra conference at Kolkata in 2003, 2014 & 2017.