India
Harpreet Twigg with display of cotton throws on a handmade wool rug. KATE ALBRIGHT/FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL

Harpreet Twigg pop-up shopFriday, Sept, 20, from 6 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 21, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Wraps priced at $99, throws $112 to $162, rugs $199-$18.

150 Upper Mountain Ave. (Known as the Japanese Pagoda House)

For more information, contact Harpreet Twigg at 201-895-5988 or 1WEAVEin@gmail.com.

By ROBIN WOODS
For Montclair Local

Growing up in Mumbai, India, Harpreet Twigg wanted to pursue a career in the fashion industry. She is the grandchild of Punjabi artisans; her grandfather was known for his intricate embroidery on clothing for wedding trousseaus, while her grandmother sewed the dresses and wove Phulkari and Dhurri rugs. Twigg learned to sew when she was 13 years old, and watched her grandparents live in extreme poverty while sewing in their home workshop.

At her parents’ request, she obtained an undergraduate degree in accounting in India in 1987. After coming to the United States, she studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City from 1990 to 1992 and learned about merchandising and buying. As a student, she worked in a garment factory.

A citizen of the world, Twigg lived in many countries before coming to reside Montclair in 2017, while frequently traveling back to India and seeing how marginalized artisans received less than their due for the textiles they created. 

With a mission to help textile weavers in Gujarat, the westernmost state in India, she is working to make sure that they receive fair trade wages so that they can cover their basic needs. This includes having a roof over their heads, education, food and health care for themselves and their families. 

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“I work in the creative process with the artisans,” said Twigg. “I am at peace with them, and it is heartening to me. It is almost like being with them when I am back home in Montclair,” 

In the village, known for its traditional wares and organic cotton, a line of home furnishings is being created, without sewing machines required. The men who weave the wool and cotton rugs often use makeshift looms, which look like beds. Women weave scarves and throws from silk and cotton, on simple hand looms. All of the products are free of azo dyes, and don’t contain potent carcinogens. This makes for safe conditions for the artisans as they work from home, and for consumers who buy the handmade scarves, throws and rugs.

Twigg is also concerned about climate change, especially after a 2013 cloudburst in the Northern Himalayas created floods from melting glaciers and washed out villages and homes, killing more than 5,700 people. This also decimated forests and left people without livelihoods.

Twigg visited villages in many parts of India, and found where many artisans and weavers lived. Her company, WEAVEin, collaborates with them in producing simple, sustainable and stylish merchandise. All materials are ethically sourced and organic.

India
Harpreet Twigg with a Peace silk/cotton scarf. KATE ALBRIGHT/FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL

“I know the craft and connect with the people,” Twigg said. She creates the designs and transfers them to graph paper, and colors the patterns, as a guide for the weavers to use. 

In December 2018, she went back to India to help set up WEAVEin there, and returned again in March to check in to see how work was progressing. 

In June, Twigg started to go around Montclair to get leads for temporary space to hold a pop-up shop, which would enable her to do a quick turnaround for her artisans, and send money back quickly to them for what they create.

After deciding that the cost of renting space in town would raise the price of the goods, her first pop-up shop will be held at her home

Inclement weather will move the shop inside the house. Parking is available on either Edgewood Road or at the shoulder of Upper Mountain Avenue near the house. Cash and credit cards are accepted. Twigg plans to cook Indian appetizers and baked goods, which will be free for all to enjoy while shopping. Future plans include an online shop, and more pop-up shops. 

India
Textiles that will be in Harpreet Twigg’s pop-up shop. KATE ALBRIGHT/FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL