Monday, 10 October 2011

Taking over the world with Florals by David Earp, founder of Shuktara

With the gorgeous mention of our baby blankets in ST Kids (Sunday Telegraph) by Daisy Bridgewater, we have asked the orginator of the blankets, David Earp to tell us about his story of how he started his gorgeous charity Shukara and about his love of florals. Without florals the world would be most certainly a very dull place! So celebrate florals with Shuktara and u-ni-k.

The shuktara blog, by my very dear friend David Earp.

The Shuktara family

I was delighted when I found out that Anna, who I had known from egg in London, was going to start up an online company, with a friend, selling beautiful heirloom products for children.  I met Anna at egg some years ago, when I started selling my blankets there.  As Maureen who owns the store was choosing her designs, Anna and I hatched our own evil plan to take over the world with florals.

Shuktara girls gang *

Before coming to India at the end of 1998 and starting shuktara ( I had been working at Portobello Market selling vintage clothing and textiles.  Then on one of my trips to India I visited Calcutta and decided to start a home for children with disabilities who had no family to care for them.  I gave up my flat share, sold my car, closed down my stall and packed a bag for India.
Many friends of mine came out to visit and as much as they were delighted to see what had been created for these children and young people, they were concerned about my passion for textiles and often asked me why I wasn’t doing anything.  It just wasn’t the right time for me then.

Shuktara Girls, photo by Paula Harrowing
Some years later I saw very dilapidated blankets lying on the roofs of people’s homes.  They seemed to be layer upon layer of random textiles and on further investigation I discovered what I like to call village kantha.  With little spare money for people to buy blankets in the colder season, they would stitch together old pieces of lungi/sarong or bed sheet, sari or dupatta – layering them and patching them as they went along, finally finishing off the entire piece with a running stitch.  I loved this mismatch of textiles, the worn upper layer suddenly revealing a vibrant check or a faded floral underneath and so I decided to try and recreate the same thing myself.  With the help of my staff and women from their villages I made a handful of oddments.

David outside the boys house with Ramesh and Sunhil
I carried this bag of kantha blankets with me on a holiday to Goa, to show some friends of mine, who immediately snatched them off me and told me that they would take them to show Maureen at egg.  I was almost immediately contacted by Anna about egg having exclusivity on my blankets for about 6 months and Maureen’s beautiful store has continued to support us by stocking shuktara products.
In a world that is frequently seen as selfish and uncaring and only out for oneself, I have continually been moved by Maureen’s generosity of spirit in passing our products and our charity and myself on to other clients, rather than hold on to me – with the exclusivity tag.  It therefore came as no surprise when Anna asked me to work with her on some exclusive baby blankets for u-ni-k of course with Maureen’s blessing.

The beautiful baby blankets

*Image includes Prity, Tamina, Ipshita, Riya and Lali with Priyanka (holding Prity) their tutor, Nandita their activity co-ordinator and Tenaya & April (Gallaudet University interns)


  1. Beautiful! Thanks for letting us know about them.

  2. We think so too. You are more than welcome, we'll keep you informed about our treasures whenever possible.