A Fairytale and A Business Empire
Laila Tyabji
THE FABRIC OF OUR LIVES: THE STORY OF FABINDIA by Radhika Singh Penguin/Viking, 2010, 389 pp., 499
December 2010, volume 34, No 12

Fabindia is our favourite fairytalea dashing young foreigner in India with a dream, marrying a beautiful Indian girl, and creating a kingdom based on high principles and beautiful craft skills. Armed with a belief that success and prosperity, used wisely, can also bring prosperity to the poor. Now someone has written the story.

While reading Radhika Singhs The Fabric of Our Lives: The Story of Fabindia, I received the Annual Report of SADHNA, a group of quilting women in Rajasthan. It had a small diagram: Fabindia orders11 lakhs 5 years ago, now touch a crore and a halfover 51% of SADHNAs turnover. A paradigm of Fabindias phenomenal growth and its impact on the Indian craft sector. All over India craftspeople and weavers await Fabindia ordersas vital as the monsoon rain. A wait of hope, expectation, fear, dependence. .

Radhika Singhs Fabindia chronicle, written with warmth, objectivity, and insight, is the riveting story of a tiny textile export business which turned into an iconic store and then a megamoth chain (123 shops and still growing!). It is the story too of the two men who shaped it over the last 50 years, giving it an individual stamp generating intense loyalties and equally strong viewpoints. Every Fabindia customer, staff member and producer partner feels they have a stake in Fabindia and an opinion on how it should be.

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