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The two finance professionals-turned-textile-entrepreneurs behind luxury furniture and upholstery brand Sihasn on weaving a success story by breaking every rule in the book

“Did you know that Hollywood actor Robert Redford buys saris from India to upholster chairs and then sells those at a premium in the US?” asks Sanju Rao, co-founder of Sihasn, a fast-growing luxury furniture and upholstery e-commerce brand. “That makes me wonder when Indians will fully realise the value of our unsung textile heritage,” she laments.

Rao, an economics major from the University of Chicago and London School of Economics, has always been passionate about textiles and admits that one lifetime is not enough to grasp the mind-boggling variety that India is home to. Along with Ganesh Shankar, the other half of the enterprise, she spends long weeks travelling all over India, talking to weavers in Kutch, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, and a dozen other places in the country’s rural interiors, to understand the tiny character details of different yarns, studying motifs and figuring out how they can be reinterpreted. She is understandably proud to helm a brand that is the only one in India to have blurred the line between furnishing fabrics and apparel textiles. In less than a year since they started, Shankar and Rao have already introduced several different collections made from threadwork and fabrics that are typically used in garments—Kashmiri kashida embroidery, Kanjeevaram saris, Kutch banni patchwork, Chizami Naga shawls, Bhagalpur linen, Bihar ChoCho, Kutch ajrakh block-printing, Assam cotton-silk and Parsi gara (hand embroidery), to name a few. As part of their Saree as Upholstery service, they have even nudged good old sentimentality out of the musty corners of customers’ cupboard by offering to reuse frayed Kanjeevaram saris as cover for your seats. “We use R&D to check the parts of the sari that are durable and bond them to industrial fabrics. So instead of letting them gather dust, you can display these beautiful heirloom pieces in your drawing room,” says Rao.            

Sihasn also offers a Futon Rental Service where customers can rent furniture for a period of one year. The rent, starting at Rs2,400* a month, is payable monthly, and the interest charged by the bank will be paid to the customer through a cashback facility put in place after 60 days of delivering the furniture. Customers also have the option to reupholster the furniture on renewal.

The duo has culled out a unique selling point for the Sihasn furniture range; they focus exclusively on providing seating options—ottomans, lounge chairs, pouffes, accent chairs, love seats, folding chairs and sofa-cum-beds. “Our objective is to showcase fabric, and seating is the best mannequin,” says Rao.

She and Shankar are now working to introduce Banarasi brocade slip covers, and developing concepts in metal, which Rao says is the most sustainable material right now. “So many trees are becoming endangered now. We need to become more conscious about our choices. It is not just about beauty anymore, but also the impact it makes.”

Need to Know

Price Range: Rs 7,000 to Rs 1,12,000

Delivery: Between 14 to 30 days, all over India

Aftersales: Warranty period of 0ne year

Where to buy: https://sihasn.com

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