On any given day, an artisan weaves between a quarter and one inch of fabric. This means a weaver could spend more than a year weaving one Jamdani saree. Largely, it depends on the intricacy and density of the design. That being said, a saree takes anywhere between 3 months to 3 years to weave, where a pair of weavers’ weaves for 10 hours a day.
Shahrukh Chowdhury Lina, founder and owner of Lina's Thousand Things and co-founder of online brand ZAAYA - an abode of Jamdani Sarees - intricately designed and made by the skilled hands of our local artisans, began her career as a banker.
Soon after her son's birth, she left her job to be a stay-at-home mom. Passionate about clothes and fashion since childhood, Shahrukh Chowdhury Lina started an online clothing business in 2012.
By 2018, Lina's Thousand Things established two branches – one at Police Plaza and another at Pink City in Gulshan. They opened another branch at Dhanmondi but unfortunately had to close it the Covid-19 pandemic.
With 24 dedicated weavers and 20 employees, Shahrukh Chowdhury Lina personally oversees the purchases and chooses the designs, according to the requirements of her customers.
ZAAYA was launched in August 2020 with the goal to put Bangladesh's Jamdani on the world map. From the beginning, their biggest challenge was to find the wonderful weavers in Bangladesh and bring out their work.
Two friends had started working together, but due to personal reasons, one of them had to leave and she became the sole bearer of all the responsibilities. At first, they started working with them on a wholesale basis. Later on, they proceeded on to weaving their own designs.
“The courage or enthusiasm to work with Jamdani that I have only seen is none other than Aarong. In fact, Jamdani’s synonym has become Aarong, as Aarong is proudly presenting the exquisite Jamdani of Bangladesh all over the world. Taking small steps, having Aarong as our light, ZAAYA has proceeded towards its goal. I was really surprised to get so many responses in just a year of starting. Now a lot of orders are coming from outside the country. As sending Jamdani abroad intact was a big challenge for us, we hesitated at first. But later on, after getting confirmation from DHL, FedEx, we started delivering all over the world,’’ Shahrukh Chowdhury Lina shared.
Azmeri Haque Badhon, Nusrat Faria, Dilshad Nahar Kona and Dilshad Karim Elita, along with other celebrities of the country have worn ZAAYA creations.
Shahrukh Chowdhury Lina says, “Singer Dilshad Nahar Kona and Dilshad Karim Elita performed on stage on the birthday celebration of Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu's 100th birthday celebration program wearing Jamdani sharee from us. Also, in Srijit Mukherjee's new web series Rabindranath Ekhane Khokonow Khete Asheni, Badhon wore three sarees from the collection of ZAAYA and took our name to the world stage. Her sarees became a cult favourite after the airing of the web series, early this year.”
“People from both the Bengals have their heads spinning over the flawless Dhakai fabric and wish to know more about the designer brand, involved with the creation of the exquisite wardrobe. From then on, we started getting a lot of orders from India. We as Bangladeshis are very proud to be able to introduce Jamdani to the outside world beyond the borders of the country and we hope that in the future we will be able to pass on this tradition of Jamdani saree to the people of new countries,” said an elated Shahrukh Chowdhury Lina.
To the young female entrepreneurs, she advised, "Keep dreaming and working hard, as you must overcome all the obstacles to move forward."
Shahrukh Chowdhury Lina recently received ‘The power of women 2021’ award, organized by WEB foundation, powered by a private bank, along with 20 other entrepreneurs.
The quality of Jamdani depends on the thread count. Another thing about Jamdani is that many sell a 100 thread count Jamdani for Tk 10,000-20,000. In fact, the price of a 100 thread count Jamdani is more than Tk 60,000.
Shahrukh Chowdhury Lina always tells the buyer the truth to deliver an original product. The higher the yarn count, the softer and more comfortable the Jamdani is.
They also run London-based website, on which people can order various products from London.
The handlooms have always enjoyed a dominating place in the fashion world as the most enduring, comforting, and body-friendly fabrics. Today, Jamdani is done on various materials, without involving machinery. It is a national heritage and preserving the national heritage is a responsibility.
As we move into an age of eco-friendliness, it has become even more relevant to preserve these ancient traditions that have been eco-infused in every step. Jamdani survives as a living relic of a glorious legacy. It is a celebration of beauty passed on to us, despite all odds, by those who came before.