Our Founders

Uma Prajapati

Uma Prajapati was born in Bodh Gaya, the place where many centuries ago, Gautama Buddha found enlightenment. Trained at the National Institute of Fashion and Technology in New Delhi, she worked with many designers for the European fashion market. In her late/early twenties, the search for a meaningful life brought her to Auroville in 1996. Upasana was born out of Uma’s twin passions for sustainable clothing and Indian handicraft traditions.

The company, which is today a leading sustainable fashion business in India, was created in 1997 with an initial investment of Rs. 2000 and a lot of determination. Uma combined handloom fabric with her signature design vision to create stylish contemporary clothes and accessories. When thousands of cotton farmers in India committed suicide because of indebtedness and the agricultural crisis caused by Monsanto and GMO crops, Uma who had always deplored the conditions in the garment industry decided it was time for change.

Uma has always championed organic cotton fabric. The Paruthi line supports organic farmers and their families, by enabling them to switch to organic agricultural practices. However, organic in itself does not necessarily mean sustainable. Uma is committed to bridging the distance between organic and sustainable. She is now exploring using only locally made fabric. This promise roots Upasana in the community it has evolved out of. Besides retail design, Upasana had extended its arms into various social projects such as Tsunamika, Small Steps and Varanasi Weavers.

I will give you fashion,

but I will make it my own way.

Design for a change

Upasana has allowed Uma to unify her experience and passion to design for a change. She is sought as a role model for the sustainable fashion industry. She has spoken to national and international audiences about the social dimension of the fashion business.

Manoj Pavitran

A product designer from National Institute of Design at Ahmedabad, Manoj moved to Auroville in 1995 to continue his exploration of Sri Aurobindo’s teachings. Along with Uma, he co-founded Upasana to being near and offer his work to the Divine. He laid down the communications framework and designed the architecture of Upasana’s first office. Later, he conceptualized and crafted the ‘Tsunamika’ story along with the idea that became ‘Small Steps’.

Manoj is now involved in software development for Auroville community and pursues other educational activities where he can apply integral education at university level.

Upasana is unique because it actually applies the consciousness concept in a business setting and that too in a luxury sector like fashion. Consciousness begins with the integrity of the designer and people running the business. Upasana lives the message of social consciousness in the way the products are designed, leftover waste materials are used and how the villagers are empowered. It touches the lives of people involved so that they are nurtured and evolve along with the business too.