We stumbled across Eight Thousand Miles during a craft fair in Chennai and promptly fell in love with their playful, bohemian design aesthetic. As a brand – Eight Thousand Miles - aspires to bridge the cultural and cartographical distance between two cities its founder Shwyeta Mudgal is based in – New York and Mumbai – and to celebrate the idea of home as a place sans borders. Eight Thousand Miles embodies the belief that all individuals are born as non-conformist, free-spirited wanderers with the world as their oyster.
All products from Eight Thousand Miles are made of natural artisanal fabrics of the highest quality, many of which are hand-block printed traditionally. Find out more about Eight Thousand Miles and Shweyta below and shop their products here.
Meet the Maker
Shweyta has an intriguing story, given that she started her career designing airports and now runs an apparel design company. She shuttled between North America and Asia on work, which led to the idea of “global parallel homes” taking firm root in her mind. She is convinced that life is led best between global antipodal homes, as against in either one of them - “Why choose one over the other, when I could live/ work in both, right?”
Shweyta in what looks like the cutest and most comfortable PJs in all of history
These years of travelling across the globe were instrumental in laying the foundation for Eight Thousand Miles. Inspired by her travels, Shweyta decided to anchor the vagabonding ideas cohesively, into the creation of a design-based brand with a socio-entrepreneurial heart. She devised a business model that would operate with social responsibility at the grassroots level, in that all our manufacturing would take place with Non-Profit/ NGO trained self-sustaining sewing units and create direct economic impact for the individuals working in these units.
Block Print Process
Shweyta’s childhood is peppered with clues pointing to her current sartorial exploits. One year, as a teenager, clueless about what to gift her best friend for her birthday, Shweyta managed to source a friend’s old pair of jeans, took them to a bag-maker and crafted them into a vintage bag. She also started sourcing her own fabrics and designing her own apparel from a young age.
The launch of Eight Thousand Miles in 2014 turned Shweyta into an entrepreneur for the very first time. While it was easy for her to apply her creative education to the field of aparrel design, it was the logistical part of running and managing the business that she had to teach herself on the job.
What started out with 50 units of inventory samples has today grown to over 5000 pieces a year, in less than 3 years. There have been many hurdles, failed collaborations and frustrations stemming from the lack of professionalism from vendors/ suppliers along the way. However there have also been awards, positive feedback, a loyal clientele, customer – fan following, word-of-mouth publicity from many bloggers, the press who love the story behind Eight Thousand Miles story and a great set of team-mates that have carried the brand to where it is today.
Eight Thousand Miles Team
Embarking on this journey alone has not been a cakewalk for Shweyta. Living in one time zone (EST) and working in the other (IST), that lies 8000 miles away effectively means that there is no ‘down-time’ or ‘close of business’ fo Shweyta. She is constantly treading the fine line between ‘work’ and ‘life outside of work’ .
There are also certain challenges on the supply side of the business, given that Eight Thousand Miles only works with NPO/NGO trained sewing units: “Often, given their cultural, social and personal priorities, I end up feeling that I work for them, as against the other way around. Instilling a sense of work ethic, ownership and pride in the artisans/ craft persons is an ongoing project with us, in the endeavour that they realize the value of work and the social/ financial independence that it provides for them”, says Shweyta.
Her multi-tasking abilities have fortunately, been an asset in Shweyta’s entrepreneurial journey. Being a schedule-junkie and enslaved to ‘busyness’ has been good for business. As she likes to put it – “Being overworked & underpaid never felt this amazing before ever!” Boy, can we relate to that sentiment.
About the brand
All of the design at Eight Thousand Miles reflect a play of a diverse eclectic palette of prints, with an emphasis on gender-neutral styles & reversible patterns, vibrant colors & many textures. The idea of emphasising gender neutral styles is to reinforce that comfort should be the top factor in determining clothing for kids, as against gender-specific factors. Characteristics such as simple cuts & silhouettes merged with playful styles ensure that the fabric is the key focus & comfort is the top priority.
Shweyta has also incorporated an environmentally-conscious design approach which entails up-cycling older vintage fabrics and utilizing industrial waste textiles whenever possible.