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Meet Mini, our vintage sari supplier


House of Wandering Silk began with Meenakshi, fondly known to all as Mini.


Sourcing vintage saris in New Delhi

Introducing Mini. Mini is always smiling. She laughs easily. She has warm eyes and patience for my poor Hindi. And did I mention she can carry her own weight in saris?

Mini is the last stop in an India-wide network of 'bhandiwalis'. 'Bhandi' means utensils in Hindi and refers to the women and men who travel India traditionally bartering steel utensils for second hand saris. Nowadays bhandiwalis also pay money for the saris as well as bartering goods.

The saris make their way through a chain of bhandiwalis and agents, from distant villages in Bengal, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan to the main markets for these items in Delhi and Kolkata. In Delhi you will find beautiful pre-loved silk saris, while in Kolkata the market is mostly in cotton saris. Read more about how we select and upcycle these beautiful saris here.


Sourcing vintage saris in New Delhi

Mini is an effervescent woman from the state of Jharkhand, though her family are originally Gujarati. She is married, and though only in her mid-30s, already has three teenage children. She moved with her Gujarati husband, Vinod, years ago to Delhi, where they live in the north of the city. They're an incredibly sweet couple - contrary to Indian traditions, Vinod does much of the cooking at home. He has "Meenakshi" tattooed on his arm.


Sourcing vintage saris in New Delhi

Sourcing vintage saris in New Delhi

I first met Mini in 2010. She was one of about a dozen ladies selling second hand and vintage saris in a small market in a by-lane of Delhi. The women would sit there on the pavement market, in the frigid winters, steaming summers, and the downpours of the monsoon, selling some of the most beautiful textiles ever created.


New Delhi vintage textile market

Rekha, another of our suppliers at the textile market in Delhi where Mini sells her saris.


New Delhi vintage textile market