Dahyalal Kudecha is a traditional weaver from Kutch. His grandfather wove. His father gave up the tradition to work in a salt mine because it earned more money. When his father needed medical treatment, the family migrated to Bhujodi, a weaving village, and Dahyabhai decided to learn weaving. For over 25 years he earned his livelihood through job work for a master weaver. But he always had two dreams: higher education for his sons, and to become an independent artist.
In 2008 Dahyabhai took Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya's design course, and learned to innovate within his tradition. He gained confidence and began to take creative risks. He began his own business. A natural teacher, he joined KRV as a core faculty member in 2010.
In 2014, Dahyabhai joined Somaiya Kala Vidya as a Design Faculty member. He began by piloting the BMA course- Business and Management for Artisans. In his new role as Faculty at SKV, Dahyabhai also helped forge a highly effective outreach partnership with weavers from Bagalkot District, Karnataka.
Teaching, Dahyabhai honed a sophisticated understanding of design, and a deep love for his tradition, both of which he seamlessly weaves into his work. Design took Dahyabhai to a fashion show in Mumbai, a collaboration with an Egyptian weaver in Delhi, and an international conference of weavers in Peru. He became known; more important he gained exposure, which he could apply in design innovation.
In 2014, Dahyabhai was juried into the highly competitive Santa Fe International Folk Art Market. This brought him the experience of a lifetime- a trip to the USA to experience this magical market. He appreciated the preparation he received. "I learned how to overcome the language barrier," he said. "After that, everything seemed easy." In the Market, he experienced the limitlessness and value of craft. "It took me beyond my imagination," he said. "I learned about artisans of the world, and customers of the USA. I learned what is marketable- colors, finishing. I realized in a real way that we need to retain our identity. We need to present our culture."
As part of the BMA course Dahyabhai designed and produced a new collection inspired by the weavers of Bagalkot. In the graduate exhibition in Mumbai, he sold nearly 60%. “I saw that new work sells itself," he said. "I now plan to have 60% new work each year.” In this post-graduate course, Dahyalal learned risk management and made a business plan. "I learned to focus on growth and improvement," he reflected, "and to work with a pencil.”
Dahyabhai is surely independent now. His dream of education for his sons was also realized. One son is studying business, and the other engineering. Neither had plans to weave. But as Dahyabhai's business has grown, his sons automatically joined him.
After taking the BMA course, Dahyabhai made one more long-term dream: to establish a brand that goes beyond the individual, for which no one need ask the price- a great prognosis for sustainability of a craft tradition.