Many of us don’t know the story of the first sari headscarf.
It was before Wrapunzel, before andreagrinberg.com, before the head wrapping movement. Just a cold, lonely day in Chicago, and a shivering woman contemplating a weird looking piece of colorful fabric strips in her local thrift store on half price day.
Little did she know that odd scarf would revolutionize how she covered her hair, and in turn inspire thousands of women and create jobs for talented artists across the ocean!
That woman is me. And this is the story of the first sari scarf and how it has changed the world:
I remember holding up that first sari, and putting it down, trying to turn away from it, yet I couldn’t. It was so beautiful, yet I couldn’t fathom how I was going to make it work as a head covering. I already had a vast collection of scarves and didn’t need more, and I certainly didn’t need some messy bunch of fabric strips cluttering up my closet. But it was so pretty, just begging to be made into something beautiful. I bought it on a whim, hoping that maybe I could make it work. One day.
It sat in my closet for weeks and eventually fell to the floor, forgotten.
I grabbed it one morning, and my thoughts were, “What was I thinking? How can this ever work?” With doubt and a bit of laughter, I put it on my head haphazardly in front of the bathroom mirror. And I gaped.
And never turned back. The head covering world hasn’t been the same since.
That first sari quickly became my most worn scarf. It was so easy and looked like I was wearing 10 scarves at once! All I did back then was put on a simple underscarf and then tie the sari on top, knotted once at the nape of my neck. I was asked, “How did you do that?” “How many scarves is that?” and no one believed that it was only one.
By then I was slowly, shyly starting to make tichel tying tutorials. But I never brought out the sari, because it just wouldn’t be fair to teach others how to tie something that simply wasn’t available to them! But I wore it, oh, did I ever wear it! I wore it to weddings, and on Shabbat, and basically every formal occasion that came up.
I also wore it for a cello playing video which eventually went on youtube, which meant the sari scarf was now public.
And now so many women were begging for advice on how to find one. And I had nothing to give. There were rumors of some craft stores selling similar ones, but they were so expensive, and the color options made me sad.
I just wished I had a way to give sari scarves to everyone! But alas…
That first, beloved sari is long gone now. I don’t know who has it, but I know I gave it to a lucky lady off of my head when she fell in love with it.
What has happened since then?
Well, a year later I started the Wrapunzel Blog, and then a year after that, the Wrapunzel store became a reality. I remember before opening earnestly telling Rivka Malka that we *had* to give the ladies sari scarves. We both agreed, but the question was… how?
It wasn’t easy. We contacted seamstresses, who sent us to someone else they knew, who sent us to someone else, and then to another person, and then another. Finally we ended up getting to know someone very special who could make them for us. This person was able to collect silk strips from factories in India and upcycle them to make gorgeous sari scarves in infinite colors – true artistry!
They sold out on the first day. And when we got more, they sold out again. And again. And again. (I think they’re actually sold out right now as I write this! We’re getting more, don’t worry!)
The demand was so high that other artists were needed, so every woman that covered her hair could have a sari scarf and enjoy the colorful silk magic. The connections we made were miraculous. We were (and still are) so happy that we’re able to bring these gorgeous creations to the tichel tying world! And we are honored to know that we’re supporting artists overseas with these beauties. Truly a crown in every single way!
Since then, the tichel tying world has exploded, and sari scarves are no exception. Sadly, we do hear that there are now manufacturers out there making similar scarves involving immoral practices, but the only thing we can do is continue supporting the values we hold dear and praying for the others that aren’t as fortunate. We hope that one day this changes and the world is a fair and bright place for all that make sari scarves!
In the Wrapunzel world, we are all about relationships. On its own, a scarf is just a scarf, but a Wrapunzel tichel is about real connection and a real relationship. This is the Wrapunzelution! Our relationship with our community means everything to us, and this means all our contributors. We know our seamstresses and distributors personally (and often their families too!) and we are so honored that this journey has allowed us to meet so many talented human beings all over the world.
I still can’t believe that crazy colorful jumble of fabric years ago has turned into such a head covering staple. Who would have thought? As I sit here with a beautiful new sari sash on my head, I am so humbled that the first sari scarf found me on that cold day, and in turn, found all of you as well.
From the lovely saris (and me!) thank you.