Over the past decades, the Pashmina industry has suffered major setbacks because of the advent of machines and the wide selling of fake Pashminas which have found their way in major markets and sell like hotcakes! Fake wool and Chinese products are being sold in the name of Pashmina and uninformed customers purchase such shawls in bulk, especially when they are sold at a very low price. This has left hardworking artisans high and dry and made them irrelevant in the modern market. This has proved detrimental for the economy of Kashmir and the reputation of Pashmina also suffers a lot. As far as artisans of the craft are concerned, whose livelihood depended on Pashmina only, they are the worst hit. The livelihood of at least 200000 artisans is at stake who feel worthless as there is no work for them to be busy with. Artisans who worked with hands only or used hand loom for weaving are proving to be irrelevant to the modern society where quantity is valued more than quantity. Power looms have taken over handwork and hence artisans have no other option than to either switch to other jobs or work for those who own power looms. Hence the craft which was once introduced to make the local people independent has again made them dependent on those who take the maximum profits and deprive the real artists behind the craft of even the basic earnings. Amongst the affected artisans, Mohammed Abdullah Sheikh who lives in Tangmarg, an area 40 km from the main city, is facing acute pressure from family, which he has been tolerating for 20 years now. Sheikh is 70 today and has been associated with the craft for 35 years. To start with Pashmina was like a dream come true for him, but little did he know that this dream will one day shatter his hopes of sending his children to a good school. When Sheikh started working on Pashmina, he earned very well and could easily support his family. But the current scenario isn't at all favourable for him or other craft artisans. Sheikh family is amongst the thousand families for whom Pashmina was bread and butter. But after the advent of power looms, youngsters from the Sheikh families prefer labour to Pashmina.
Sheikh and Pashmina.com
What Sheikh primarily wants us to do is revive the pure art of hand-making Pashmina wraps, stoles and hijabs. He wants us to reintroduce handmade Pashmina and promote the real craft in its purest form. So far, Sheikh is highly impressed with our working model and appreciates the fact that pure Pashmina is purely handmade. He further appreciates our ethical working, sustainable methods and fair trade practices, where there is no supply chain and artisans get their equal share.