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Sarees have always been versatile, multi-purpose, truly up-cyclable, and long-lasting.

Whether one is 18 or 80, the elegance of a saree remains unmatched for all shapes and sizes of women. It is a faithful companion, seeing a woman through all the important milestones of her life.

Now, more than ever, it’s easy to style a saree- you don’t need matching blouses, crop tops paired with sarees are all the rage, it doesn’t matter that your drape is not traditional, it’s very much open to interpretation. There has also been an increase in interest in traditional crafts and weaves.

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And yet, save for few exceptions, many women perceive that they are too busy, that it’s meant for ‘older’ women, that there’s too much paraphernalia around the saree, or that it’s just not worth the hassle.

Can a small enterprise impact lifestyle, livelihoods, and loom craft, all at once? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’ in the case of Six Yards Plus — a smart saree start-up bringing sarees into the everyday life of the Indian woman, through ethical, experiential, and sustainable products and services. Showcasing a range of over 50 weaves from across India, laser-focused on only sarees, Six Yards Plus is here to make the wardrobe of 2021 better with artisanal and signature sarees so you can go the whole six yards.

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Phulia Cotton Sarees to pure Linen Digital Florals, Pure Tussar in Kalamkari to Eco-friendly Liva in Satin — no matter what you pick from Six Yards Plus, you can be assured that it is conscious in design and detail. In a world of overwhelming information and confusing choices, Six Yards Plus stands apart through authentic products, with accurate, credible product details and transparent transactions. The idea behind every masterpiece? “A saree is as a saree does,” says Mrinalini Shastry, founder of the venture.

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“The sheer simplicity of this Indian wear is lost on many that still believe that the saree is for the ‘older’ generation or for ‘special’ occasions. Six Yards Plus is here to change that and make the saree an affordable, effortless, and fun attire, fit for anything from havans to happy hours,” says the founder who is a firm believer in the power of business to do good.

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“A lot of my work has been on livelihoods, with a special focus on creative/artisanal livelihoods, and women-owned grassroots enterprises. My last full-time role was with the AP government, working on bringing online, products from the women’s self-help groups of Andhra Pradesh. This truly reaffirmed my belief that the most sustainable way to impact artisanal livelihoods was to build a fair, transparent, sustainable enterprise around them. Having always enjoyed draping sarees to work, I was increasingly concerned that the number of women in sarees around me was dwindling. It seemed to me that there was a gap in the market to be filled- by a no-nonsense, authentic saree brand that made the experience fun, affordable and enjoyable while building a sustainable supply chain of artisanal sarees. So, I did a mid-career pivot to enter the world of entrepreneurship and started Six Yards Plus, a ‘for profit’ entity,” shares Mrinalini on how the venture happened.

Six Yards Plus has a range that covers everything from Mangalagiri to Maheshwari and beyond, and they take real pride in building a sustainable supply chain with a purpose – in their ability to have been able to start relationships small and carry along with their network of weavers and artisans with them. In some of the clusters they work with, they have been able to increase business to artisans over 25X, and have been continuously investing in the supply chain even through the pandemic.

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Sustainability in everything they do is fundamental to them, and this shows in even in the small details- like the entirely reusable packaging they use for their products so that nothing from their packaging will ever end up in a landfill. “As a company, I have decided to run a sustainable fabric line. I wanted to build 1980’s satin luxury. I didn’t want it to be either too expensive or it is art silk or anything that is petroleum-based. Given these conditions, I felt like there is a need for something that is luxurious yet sustainable at a price that people could afford. That’s when we actively tracked people who make sustainable yarn and are certified. From handcrafting traditions such as crochet lace from Narsapur, AP or Cheriyal Paintings from Telangana. Taking sustainability a step further, they have also seeded this yarn on handlooms in MP and AP to create responsible luxury in the saree space,” adds she, who started off with blouse and blouse pieces after entered the saree biz, after a customer suggested and asked them for a customized saree. They have now expanded to over 35 weaves in just four years into their journey.

This enterprise is 100 percent women-run. Through her own experience with the business, Mrinalini asks and finds the answer to the question: what does it really take to have a women-centric workplace? Mrinalini says, “It takes pride in the achievements of your co-workers, as mothers, as daughters, as students, and as friends. Individual women should not be obliged to deal with the traditional roles that society drafts for them, and while larger change might take generations to come, it is the employers’ responsibility to provide an enabling environment for women today.”

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Sarees with memories, inheritances from loved ones, treasured buys from travels…. there are so many sarees in our wardrobe which have lived a long life and have much more joy to give us. But they don’t get their time in the sun because they are stained, faded, or bear signs of their age and hard work. Here’s your opportunity to give them a renewed life and look, and wear them with love again – SaRevive from Six Yards Plus. Give treasures from your wardrobe a new lease of life. Embellish them with authentic, GI-tagged, hand painting traditions. Vibrant Pattachitra from Odisha, Stunning Kalamkari from Andhra Pradesh, and Vivid Cheriyal from Telangana, whatever you choose, hand-painted by award-winning artisans onto your own saree. If you think sustainable clothing is expensive, then this is for you. Their sarees start from just Rs 900.

Elegance, heritage, and sustainability all wrapped in one beautiful saree made exclusively for you!

If you’re wondering how women can give it all and have it all, or believe you deserve something other than the work pajamas you’ve gotten used to, get on to www.6yardsplus.com. #KhabarLive #hydnews 

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