Namaste et Bienvenue to Buno Behen
I’m Maithili, the founder of Buno Behen. Why the indo-french cocktail of ‘Namaste et Bienvenue you ask? Well, that’s where my inspiration for Buno Behen comes from, the two places I call home - India & France and my quest to connect the east and the west through art
what's in the name?
Well, everything! Buno Behen, translated means 'weave sister'. Through the label, we want to weave a fabric of sisterhood that stands in solidarity with Indian crafts and craftswomen and links traditional Indian savoir-faire to the west.
TRIVIA TIME: The women artisans at SEWA add the suffix behen when they address each other at work, and this is my small way of paying tribute to the many sisters associated with us.
where it all began
The concept of Buno Behen was born thanks to some significant influences in my life - first, my home - Mumbai. Second, my travels across India and introduction to its handicrafts, and lastly, my love for conscious living and fashion. It was only a question of somehow bringing it all together. Let’s dive into the first...
mumbai meri jaan
I grew up in Mumbai in a bustling and historic neighbourhood called Dadar. It was one of the neighbourhoods in Mumbai that housed thousands of mill workers that migrated to Mumbai following the textile boom of the mid-19th century. While the mills shut down a long time ago, Dadar is still home to a large population of middle & lower-middle-class families, one of which was mine. Being mindful and recycling was not a trend but a way of life for the people who grew up here. Being raised in a typical 90s middle-class family meant upcycling was a part of our everyday routine and values. Nothing went to waste. Clothes were taken care of and handed down from generation to generation.
My family was primarily matriarchal (my mother, aunt, grandmother, cousin sisters and I) in a largely patriarchal society. I have seen them navigate the inequalities and the power of uplifting women, and the cascading effect on future generations. I am a result of that. My grandmother was widowed young, and she worked odd jobs to give my father and aunt better education and job opportunities, which led to me having options they didn’t, starting a cycle of generational upward mobility.
Between all the chaos that is Dadar, I drew the values of upcycling waste and women's empowerment which influenced my worldview.
in search of india
Unlike Christopher Columbus, I found the real India on my journey. Travel was a luxury in my world, but lucky for me, my mother was a teacher, which meant her school did an annual trip every Diwali. While the journey and the itinerary were far from comfortable for a kid, it was my first introduction to Indian crafts in hindsight. I loved visiting traditional markets all over the country and bringing back souvenirs. I still cherish them today - my ‘Chikankari’ kurta from Lucknow, my ‘Kullu Topi’ from Himachal, my ‘Eri Silk’ skirt from Meghalaya and ‘Cane Wallet’ from Assam. This was just the beginning.
This influence stayed with me and helped me find a deeper appreciation for the rich sartorial heritage of India.
we'll always have paris
Low impact living plays an integral part in my life. My journey into conscious living began somewhere around 2016; the loss of a loved one, brush with depression and the documentary ‘The True Cost’ had me reevaluating my lifestyle. I started to lean towards a slower pace of life. I planned on packing my bags and heading to my hometown Goa. Well, life had other plans. I met Yves (my husband) shortly after, and we connected over our dream to lead a simple life and started working towards it. In 2018 I moved to the city of love to be with mon amour and launched my first eco-venture, Mauve Moustache, an online thrift store. I loved Paris, and as addictive as the city is, I still yearned for a simpler life. I got laid off during COVID, which meant we no longer needed to be in Paris. In December last year, we took the plunge. We decided to move into our own home in a small town in Bretagne, sustainably renovate it ourselves, grow our veggies, be in nature, and reduce our impact even further.
This principle governs everything I do in my personal and professional life.
Buno Behen is the convergence of these influences. We create small, handmade, upcycled collections at the heart of which lies the upliftment of women artisans through traditional Indian crafts.
As Brigham Young said, “You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.”
that's what we aim to do - make people and planet-friendly clothing.