A brand new Instagram fan, Anjali is busy figuring out this social media channel with the curiosity of a child and with the help of her younger brother Ashish. “Maine aapka post dekha” (I saw your post), says KARIGAR’s tailor, excitedly. An Insta Story where she’s the star, bent over the sewing machine in complete silence, except for a steady whirring while the armholes of the KARIGAR Cape are taking shape. The caption reads, ‘Do not disturb’. “Ashish ne mujhe Instagram pe dikhaya” (Ashish showed it to me on Instagram), says Anjali as she hospitably brings out of tray of cookies, savoury snacks and drinks.
Ashish is Anjali’s younger brother who is working as her apprentice. Cutting and sewing are skills he’s developing, under the guidance of his sister and alongside his passion of photography. The excitement at being featured on KARIGAR’s social media is palpable at this tailoring unit in Dehradun, a small but buzzing Indian city at the foothills of the Himalayas. Anjali and her young team pose effortlessly for the camera while doing what they are best at -- handcrafting the Cape’s armholes. A task that she admits initially looked easy, but is challenging to master. “It’s only when I started to do it I realised how many steps were involved,” she confesses.   
Back in 2015 when we started working with Anjali, she was on her own. A tailor by day and a student by night, she single-handedly worked on KARIGAR’s orders. Today, the team has expanded to include Komal, Kavita, Bharti, Neha and Ashish, each one handling a different part of the armhole crafting process. Anjali has graduated from college and now focusses all her efforts into KARIGAR. “This year has been very different to last year. Women come to me all the time asking for work and we feel encouraged to grow our business along with you,” she admits, looking proudly at her newly renovated work space and at the team behind the sewing machines.
There’s no time to take on any other tailoring orders. But she doesn’t mind. “My older clients come to me and ask me to make them a Cape, but I refuse. I tell them to go to your website and order,” she laughs, adjusting her workspace because it’s now time for another Insta Story.
This time she begins in English, “Hi, I am Anjali….”
Text and Photo: Kanak Hirani Nautiyal