OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Chindi—Handmade accessories using recycled yarn

Hand woven accessories made with recycled yarn by low-income craftspeople in India

Photo of Tanushri Shukla
14 14

Written by

Chindi [which means "scrap" or "waste" in Hindi] is a social enterprise based in Mumbai, India. We collaborate with fashion houses and textile recycling facilities to recycle mixed apparel waste into yarn. We work with a group of low-income craftswomen from the slums of Dharavi to crochet, knit, and weave this yarn into high quality accessories. 

Company / Organization Name (if applicable)

Chindi

Website (if applicable)

www.chindi.in

Which Nike Grind materials will your idea utilize?

  • Mixed Apparel Textile
  • Mixed Footwear Textile
  • Synthetic Leather

How specifically will these materials be incorporated into your solution?

We partner with Geetanjali Woollens, one of the world's biggest exporters of recycled yarn. Nike's apparel waste will be manually sorted by colour and fabric, then mechanically pulped and woven into yarn, which is then twisted into 4 plys to produce yarn we can hand weave with. The yarn will then be crocheted into products by our team of craftswomen. Please see the recycling process at this private link: https://medium.com/@tanushrishukla/textile-recycling-8561bf6d1f1e The synthetic leather can be used to make the straps and other trimmings—these are currently made with upcycled tyre tubes that resemble leather and are extremely sturdy.

Please include a visual (can be either 2D or 3D) representation/prototype of your concept. (required)

These bags are part of our first collection using recycled yarn. We plan to soft launch this collection in early May.

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Piloting
  • Full-scale roll-out

Describe your target market. Who will benefit from your product?

Our target market comprises conscious consumers who are willing to spend a little bit more than usual to purchase an ethical, handmade, sustainable product. We focus primarily on women, aged 28-45 living in urban cities of India like Mumbai and Delhi. We also hope to sell internationally soon. Our product benefits our consumers, our textile recycling partners, fashion houses looking for sustainable ways to dispose of their waste, and especially our craftswomen's livelihoods

How will you scale your idea? Please describe in detail your plan to scale your concept.

Chindi is in the process of being rebranded and relaunched as an affordable luxury brand of sustainable accessories—attached are some images of our work-in-progress rebranding. We plan to soft launch in May through pop-ups at select high-end stores and venues around Mumbai, Delhi, Goa, and Ahmedabad. We will also sell via our website and other high-end online marketplaces like Jaypore.com and Nete.in. We also intend to stock in boutique design stores in various urban cities around India. Following our launch, we hope to sell internationally via a trade fair and online marketplaces like Etsy. For production, we have partnered with CORP [www.corpindia.org] that runs 20 vocational training centres for women around Mumbai. We currently work at their Dharavi centre and have the potential to train women at their additional centres and quickly scale up production in response to market demand.

How is your idea innovative?

We are India's first organisation specifically tackling the problem of textile waste. We focus on recycling rather than upcycling textile waste so that we can work with large quantities of mixed waste. We then hand crochet it into one-of-a-kind products that currently do not exist in the Indian marketplace. Our raw material and production process is ethical and fair end to end. Finally, our products are completely circular and infinitely recyclable for which we hope to establish an EPR program.

What inspired this idea?

I was living in London and working in publishing when I made a trip to India where I visited the garment manufacturing unit run by my family. Here I heard the word "chindi" a lot and saw large sacks of mixed waste being dumped in the Deonar landfill behind our unit. This was the a-ha moment.

Tell us about yourself and your team. What is your background and experience?

Tanushri, Founder—Former publishing professional and digital strategist who has worked in agencies and publishing houses in Mumbai, London and New York. Shibani, Product Designer—Former head of product development at Yamini Textiles & export houses.

In what city are you located?

Mumbai

In what country are you located?

India

What is your legal / organizational structure? (if applicable)

Sole Proprietor

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea will support the growth of your concept.

Chindi is an organisation ahead of its time—for 3 years we have been working on spreading the word about circularity in textiles in India, long before designers were interested in the concept. We are now at an exciting moment in our evolution when our product approach, raw material, design, and the market's awareness have all converged. We are entirely bootstrapped and self funded, which restricts our ability to employ more women and market our product internationally.

Attachments (1)

This inspired (1)

Green by Goonj..

14 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Priya Thakur
Team

I believe there are many more pleasurable opportunities ahead for individuals that looked at your site.

https://www.phuljhadi.com/
https://www.phuljhadi.com/necklaces-pendants

Photo of Yasith Abeynayaka
Team

Are there any waste in yarn making process or can you use 100% of the Nike Grind material?

Photo of Yasith Abeynayaka
Team

Hi Tanushri, Great concept and congratulations on work you have done.
Is there any special advantage you can generate by using Nike Grind materials to create yarn?

Photo of Ruirui Lu
Team

Handmade bags are always with high price due to the labor costs. In addition, high level quality of goods are required, and good brand background. This is really a good idea. I like the idea products. And more specific business strategy like supply chain management, distribution channels, and pricing strategy are expected. Hope it can be achieved.
Thanks for your idea.

Photo of Lauren Ito
Team

Hi Tanushri Shukla ,

Great to see you in the Challenge! I'm curious to learn more about how your products created with this recycled yarn are designed with the needs of people in mind. What makes your bags and products unique? This storyboarding activity may be helpful (and great content to upload the storyboard to your idea http://www.designkit.org/methods/35)

Tagging in community rockstars Naman Mandhan , Aakar Mehra , and Robert Smith to connect and provide questions/insights on one another's concepts!

Also, I'd love more information about your business model to understand how you would scale with Nike Grind materials. Including this business model canvas resource to support you in this process (https://www.circulardesignguide.com/post/circular-business-model-canvas).

Excited to learn more!

Photo of Tanushri Shukla
Team

Hi Lauren Ito thanks so much for your note and your interest in Chindi. Great suggestions—I'll definitely add the BMC and storyboard to my idea. Do check back soon :)

Photo of Tanushri Shukla
Team

Hi Lauren Ito I have uploaded the BMC to my response above. Unfortunately I couldn't quite wrap my head around the storyboarding activity as the link doesn't have much detail on how to exactly draft this. Could you perhaps show me an example or a template? Thank you!

Photo of Clélie
Team

What a wonderful idea and project!

Can you tell us more about your process of yarn creation? You talked about a yarn “mechanically pulped and woven”. Do you need to use chemicals to achieve this process or did you find a solution to avoid the use of such products?

I have also questions about the length of the process. How long does it take to create one bag, from the extraction process to the finished product? Being handmade, I suppose it is quite long; therefore, would you be able to respond a potential demand rapidly?

Excited to learn more about your company and product!

Photo of Tanushri Shukla
Team

Hi @Clelie thanks so much for your note and warm words. To answer your questions...

I have documented all the steps in the yarn creation process on this link: https://medium.com/@tanushrishukla/textile-recycling-8561bf6d1f1e

The process from start to finish, as you rightly said, is quite long. However, we have a few advantages:
- Geetanjali Woollens is one of India's largest exporters of recycled yarn and have more then sufficient capacity to quickly meet our raw material needs
- Our partnership with CORP, which runs 20 women's centres around Mumbai, means we can quickly train and scale up our production team as needed
- The time to make each piece can also be reduced by investing in knitting machines that can be manually operated by our craftswomen to weave the fabric much faster--this is something we plan to invest in as soon as we can afford it

Having said that, a handmade product will always take longer to make than a completely machine made one, and we intend to plan our production accordingly.

Photo of Naman Mandhan
Team

Hi Tanushri Shukla !

What a wonderful idea! I'm happy to see that you are using recycled textiles to meet the needs of a target population while also providing jobs for the women living in slums.

A couple of questions/thoughts:

1. What challenges do you foresee with the separation process while using Nike Grind materials? Will there be changes that will need to be made to your current process to accommodate these scrap textiles? From what I understand, the women don't necessarily go through extensive training to participate in this process. Would that need to change with the introduction of the Nike Grind materials?

2. Have you received feedback from users within your target audience regarding the perceived quality of these accessories, when compared to the products that are a little cheaper and more conventionally sourced? How is your product being marketed to the consumers and what is the value proposition to them?

3. In your post, you mention that these accessories are infinitely recyclable. Is there a loss in quality/robustness of these products as they go through multiple cycles of recycling? Do customers bring these accessories back into the stores to have them recycled? Is there a potential for a buy back program?

4. It looks like some of the handbags have a leather shoulder strap. Might there be an opportunity to use the Nike Grind leather to manufacture those?

Excited to learn more about your company and product, and to hear how the soft launch goes!

Photo of Tanushri Shukla
Team

Hi Naman Mandhan thanks for your note and your interest in Chindi! Please see my responses below:

1. The women at our recycling facility are in fact trained to segregate fabrics [wool, cotton, lycra, etc.] through manual touch and feel. So we'd be able to work with mixed waste from Nike through the same process. Please see the entire recycling process here: https://medium.com/@tanushrishukla/textile-recycling-8561bf6d1f1e

2. We've been upcycling textile waste for the past 3 years so we do have anecdotal and first hand feedback on our quality and functionality. This feedback has led to our whole new product approach intended to provide more consistently designed and replicable products. Our product testing within our networks has yielded very positive responses and we will of course know more following our soft launch. It's "soft" precisely so we can respond to feedback and make changes, if needed. In terms of marketing and value prop, we currently don't have budget for online marketing, but I have a wide network of designers, stores, and boutiques so we are relying on WOM marketing. I am also often invited to speak on panels and deliver lectures, combined with a relatively high social media engagement that we use for marketing and public outreach on the issue of textile waste. So I am seen as somewhat of a thought leader in this space in India and I leverage that as much as possible!

3. Yes, like all textiles, there will be a loss in quality in terms of shorter staple fibres. Fortunately, Geetanjali Woollens, our recycling partners, have systems to turn the lowest quality waste into recycled felted sheets with numerous industrial applications. We are also about to start prototyping products we can make with this low end waste such as padding for laptop sleeves. As I mentioned, we are keen to launch a take-back/EPR system for this, but this is something we will be able to do a little down the line, depending on how successfully the brand launches.

4. The straps are actually made of upcycled tyre tubes and seat belts salvaged from car graveyards by our partners in New Delhi. The Nike Grind leather and rubber waste could certainly be used for this, but we currently don't know how to fuse it together into sheets. If we found a local partner for this aspect, we could make the product end-to-end using Grind materials. That would be very exciting!

Hope this makes sense, and look forward to your feedback and thoughts!

Tanushri

Photo of Robert Smith
Team

Hi Tanushri Shukla ,

Like Naman's comments, above, it is exciting to see you drawing value from previously discarded materials!

One of the things that I sometimes lose sight of is the willingness to use traditional skills and hard work to address difficult manufacturing processes. I speak here specifically of hand sorting material by type, color, etc. I might be tempted to expend significant effort attempting to develop a more automated approach to sorting the material and, in the process lose a lot of valuable time and shared profits by not simply 'getting on with the task'. I applaud your team's commitment to the vision!

Nice job and good luck! -Robert

Photo of Tanushri Shukla
Team

Thank you Robert Smith -- unfortunately mechanised solutions for textile sorting don't really exist in India [or anywhere else in the world as far as I know, but I could be wrong]. Our recycling partners Geetanjali Woollens have done a lot of work to train local, unskilled labour in segregation. It's a tough job, and we're so glad they do it!

Photo of Lauren Ito
Team

Great to see these thoughtful questions, Naman Mandhan !