Junekeri: Fruit of the Northeast Loom

Sikkimese home linen and accessories brand Junekeri celebrates mountain craft and kala cotton in natural dyes

Junekeri is rooted in jugnu, meaning ‘firefly.’ Junekeri Dara is also an unspoiled viewpoint located in east Sikkim. Drawing inspiration from the fascinating jugnu and the canvas of colours that comprise the panorama of the Junekeri Dara vista, a mother-daughter duo decided to channelise all of this life into their products. “We are truly grateful for the unending inspiration of what we call home,” says Ayessha Gurung, co-founder, Junekeri Homes, a home linen and accessories label that she started with her mother, Sudha, during the pandemic just two years ago. 

The handwoven cushion covers, runners, throws and heirloom weaves bring a touch of the northeast into your home, all while shaped in pesticide-free organic kala cotton (sheep wool), desi wool, and azo-free cotton. For the dyeing process, colours are derived from natural sources—from the leaf of the wild indigo plant, crushing the bark of the azeu tree in mortar, or deriving reds from the root of the moringa plant and yellow from the roots of the turmeric plant. 

Growing up in Gangtok, Ayessha was constantly surrounded by picturesque landscapes and natural colours. Also, her parents loved to travel and collect unusual picks and treasured items. “Years later, when it came to setting up my own first home, I wanted to reintroduce those evocative qualities and surround myself with fabrics, furnishings, and iconic art and decor pieces,” she recalls. That’s when she decided to quit the corporate world and go into business with her mother to bring a lifelong dream to fruition. “Before we launched Junekeri, we spent more than a year travelling to the remotest villages across the country to work directly with local artisanal communities,” she says. 

The brand’s weaver clusters are based in Manipur, Nagaland and, of course, their home state, Sikkim. Besides also Rajasthan, Gujarat as well as Kannur. “Everything is made by hand on backstrap and pit looms, and no electricity is employed. All our products are made in small batches as we work directly with our makers at fair prices,” she adds.

What adds to the beauty of their products are the perfect imperfections as they are all created by hand. Indeed, the subtle variations of natural fibres, and the unique hand embroideries add a special character to every piece.

Shilpi Madan for Sunday Standard

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