Since childhood, Mushtaq had been a keen observer. He would watch his grandfather and his father work on a hand loom and the clanking of the loom would be peaceful to his ears. His was very young at this time, otherwise he would have started doing the same. He would ask his grandfather a hundred questions like what is he making, why does he do it, what is Pashmina and more. And his grandfather, not paying any heed to his tender age, would actually make him understand every bit of his work, because as per him, this is the profession that young Mushtaq had to anyway choose as he would grow up, which came to be true. It was in the year 1982 when Mushtaq's grandfather passed away and the young boy who had grown up to be a smart teenager realized that he had to assist his father. It was 1989 and for a year or two, both father and son duo worked day and night to create beautiful pieces of Pashmina. The time was productive and Pashmina was at its zenith. Both would earn sufficient and live a pretty content life. In the early 1990s, however, a major blow to the Pashmina industry came as a shock to artisans who worked with their hands. It was the advent of machines. There was already high demand in the west which could not be catered to by hand artisans who made the same shawl in a month which power looms would make in 15 minutes. This led to the money makers and influential traders invest in power looms only and weavers of the Pashmina, who worked on classic hand looms were ignored completely. And it further led hand artisans including Mushtaq's family into the gallows of poverty and unemployment. As a solution, immensely talented hand artisans had to work for wealthy traders, who gave them a certain percentage of the profits they earned. These profits were as little as Rs 100 for a day which wouldn't even be sufficient for one individual. Hence the industry of Pashmina saw a major pitfall phase where machines spun, machines weaved and machines earned.
Mushtaq and Pashmina.com
Mushtaq was actually thrilled by our working model which pays an artisan a monthly salary. Artisans no more have to wait for 3-4 months together and then get compensations for their work. Moreover there are no supply chains which pay the least to artisans, weavers and embroiders. We consider them the most important part of the Pashmina in dustry. It is them who know the real beauty of a handmade Pashmina. Mushtaq is one of our lead weavers, who doesn't waste a second when he sits on the loom. He doesn't even talk to anyone when he is weaving a Pashmina shawl or stole. We need more people like Mushtaq in this industry who value the art of hand making Pashmina and say no to machines which either make impure or fake pieces, disrespecting the entire craft.