By Natalie Benoit
Jyoti Kamaal’s 77-year-old mother, who’s nicknamed Suli, has always been fond of crocheting. When she left for Europe two years ago, her mother started sending her crocheted bags and scarves/mufflers to the point where Kamaal wasn’t sure what to do with it all. Suli’s pass time eventually became a passion she would show the world.
Suli’s Knits made a debut appearance at this year’s New York Fashion Week during the Sustainable NYFW runway show presented by Planet Fashion. Kamaal was at the event sharing her mother’s colorful, handcrafted pieces made from fabrics like wool.
“Somebody will say ‘I want a muffler.’ She’ll [Suli] start today and by tomorrow evening she’s like ‘your muffler is ready.’ And she’s never sold a muffler or a bag, she’s always gifted it to people. So that’s why we started ‘handmade with love,’” explained Kamaal.
Even though Suli’s Knits may not initially seem like the type of business to be at a fashion event focused on sustainability, Kamaal says all of the fabrics are organic. She also offers a different perspective on the idea of what some would consider sustainable.
“I think it’s more about the mental stimulation that this program is giving her, she’s doing it herself. And the sustainability of older people, when they do something and create it, gives them a better life.”
Suli makes all of the pieces on her own from India, with the encouragement and business-like mind of her supportive daughter. The duo decided that New York Fashion Week would be a great opportunity to share the brand on a larger platform since February is a colder month in the city—a perfect season for scarves.
“It’s effortless for her because when she makes it she feels like it’s something making her worth,” Kamaal said at the sustainable fashion show.
Suli’s crocheting skills expanded into including side bags and purses. Now she even crafts mufflers for moms and their children, reflecting the mother-daughter partnership behind-the-scenes.
The small-business prepared for NYFW by inviting and teaching some of Suli’s friends to produce more products that Kamaal could sell and promote at the event. They even brought a banner where people could learn more about Suli and the brand itself.