Lush hand painted materials curated for a timeless wear
Bangladeshi handlooms have been an embodiment of creativity and pride. Muslin, for instance, with its rich craftsmanship is considered the most famous fabric for Bangladeshi women’s attire. Since the early days, it has been worn with a great sense of dignity. The muslin available in markets today are a far cry from the stunning textiles of old. To hold on to the heritage of muslin heirlooms, ‘The Malachite Casket’ brings not just muslin but a variety of local textiles -- with their unique art for each dress.
Auntora Mehrukh Azad and Anannya Mehpar Azad, owners of The Malachite Casket, shared the memory of how their business came to be. The story begins with a saree that was very old and delicate, and beautiful. It was their mother’s Dhakai muslin saree, and its hand painted designs had captivated them their whole lives. Upon searching for similar sarees in stores and never really finding a design that came close to the original, the two sisters came back home disheartened. Thus, the venture gradually began. With immense love for art and fashion, the twin sisters started exploring sarees and painted on them for their Instagram page at the end of 2016.
To represent their love and passion, the owners hand painted on the materials. Each of their hand painted designs is unique. With each design they, like any great artist, leave a part of their identities on the attires. Starting from sarees to dupattas to lehengas and to painted wooden clutches -- all the items are designed and developed in their studio. From the initial sketch to prototype, everything is handled solely by the sisters. The sarees, which are the signature mark of their venture, are mostly made of silk or muslin. Both Auntora and Anannya try to use Bangladeshi materials as much as possible.
Auntora is currently working as a full time painter and Anannya as a freelance illustrator. The twins, not just identical in features but also in their interests, took their venture’s name from their favourite Russian fairytale book, The Malachite Casket. Stating the reason, the owners say: “The story shows the mysterious enchanting malachite box’s deep hypnotizing shades of green. It has the power to awaken the desire for the stones inside throughout the centuries – at just one glimpse. Just like the enchanting malachite box from the story, we wanted our products to be just as spellbinding. We also want our pieces to be just as loved and cherished.”
Completing BFA from faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka, when both the sisters started the venture, it seemed to be a mere business born out of passion. However, after one of their friends posted their work on a Facebook group “Hoothat”, they received impressive response. It was then that they learnt that it was high time they took this recognition seriously.
Since the venture is mostly online, it had to be run through courier service. This means having to depend on a third party. Having said that, the owners would have to tackle issues such as products to be delivered on time, which was not always possible. One of their most unpleasant experiences was when their products were hijacked from the delivery man.
Regardless of the conflicts, The Malachite Casket has a success story to share as well. Since the very early stages of the business, they have been a part of the meye (women) network business group ‘Hoothut’ and in April 2018, they participated in their first Rangtaa (meye network’s fair) where they first went public with their products. They were simply overwhelmed by the response, and this has given them more confidence and encouraged them to go on.
To open the magic box that is The Malachite Casket, visit: https://www.facebook.com/themalachitecasketdhaka/