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White Tree & the Prabal Gurung Creator Collab on Etsy

White Tree & the Prabal Gurung Creator Collab on Etsy

Little did we know when we began making masks in 2020, a few weeks into forced temporary closure owing to Covid-19, that the decision would put us on the path to realising many of our dreams. As a small apparel design firm with a team that has been with us for years, some even decades; going into lockdown meant struggling to sustain our people, many of whom are migrants from far-flung states and have families to send money back home to.

We decided that combining the relevant need for breathable fabric face protection as a substitute for disposable masks, with our decades-old expertise in tailoring and embroidery might help us deliver on the commitment to our work family – that we were with them in this time of need and together, we could ease the unforeseen burden that the pandemic had brought. With this in mind, we forayed into crafting organic cotton masks, embroidering them with our signature nature-inspired motifs and ensuring we were constantly incorporating guidelines from health authorities to perfect what was to be as much a safety accessory as it was a consciously made aesthetic piece. Introducing what would hitherto have been considered a bizarre product category, we dove right into this new but necessary territory at a time when few others had perhaps thought about it – a risk that many questioned for good reason.


Image Source: Etsy


One thing led to another and we set up shop on Etsy soon after, opening up our latest product line under the White Tree label to a global audience. As is the case with most new sellers, we knew very little of the platform and found ourselves learning on the go. We pushed ourselves to acquire e-commerce skills alongside introducing newer, more varied designs of the product itself, figuring out sustainable but durable packaging for international shipments and ensuring we were prompt in our communication with customers in different time zones. Orders went quickly from a trickle to a pour, and before we knew it, we were a 5-star rated Etsy seller, having fulfilled over 900 orders and shipping thousands of face masks to different corners of the world in a matter of months.

As a small team that could have in no way foreseen the kind of response and sense of accomplishment we’d get from our journey with Etsy; we were beyond thrilled. Not only did the success of our Etsy store help us adequately sustain ourselves and our team, but it also got our creative juices flowing and led to more cherished additions to the White Tree product line - our much-loved embroidered linen stoles and highly popular signature neck ties for men. 


Image by Taher Basrai Photography


Just when we thought our Etsy experience couldn’t be more of a dream-come-true, we were invited in December 2020 to be a part of a one-of-its-kind collaboration with ace designer Prabal Gurung for the curation of a limited-edition collection. Shortlisted as one of only eleven, 5 star-rated global sellers, and the sole one from India – this was beyond anything we could have imagined.

What followed were months of design revisions, colour selections, sample creations and needless to say, hard work and a plethora of learning that can only come from interacting with and receiving inputs from one of the brightest minds in the business. Our task at White Tree was to design our star product i.e., the face mask, in line with Prabal’s vision – a vibrant, colourful curation of pieces from ceramics to home linen and functional accessories, all exuding positivity, joy and breathing life into handmade arts.



Images by Taher Basrai Photography


Sharing his thoughts on the collection with Etsy, Prabal states, “This collection welcomes you to take a seat at the table and celebrate the art of living, with a worldly sensibility that shines a light on the diverse independent makers in the global Etsy community…The Prabal Gurung collection connects cultural explorers and adventure seekers with talented artisans from all over the world, who tell their stories through their luxurious and colourful creations.’’

In an interview to Vogue, Prabal, who was raised in Kathmandu, Nepal before beginning his design career in New Delhi and therefrom turning into a global nomad through his work; states, “I wanted to partner with Etsy because they have this incredible group of independent business owners and artisans, and I just wanted to be able to learn from them, to share my space and my access and my audience with them.”


 Image Source: Etsy

Privileged to have been considered for this opportunity, the White Tree team, led by our founder Ms. Lamiya Basrai, painstakingly ensured that every detail in our organic linen embroidered face masks was looked into minutely - from the sustainable sourcing of the raw material to the sleek, tailored cut that lays comfortably snug on the face and the soft, fabric-encased ear loops and intricately embroidered roses that are a running theme in the collection. This, coupled with the determination to emerge even stronger through this once-in-a-lifetime collaborative experience – in process, product, philosophy and personal growth – we succeeded in creating what we humbly believe is truly deserving of being labelled a limited-edition piece, a fashion-forward staple that effectively ties together both form and function.


Now out there receiving global appreciation and applause for a small business like ours that has been around for decades designing apparel, silently finding ways to create more sustainably and nurturing its team with compassion; this little powerhouse of a White Tree product - admittedly an improvisation during a difficult time, born primarily out of the urgent need to serve our very own - is what has truly taken us places, bearing fruit of years of focused work, and simultaneously leaving us energized in its wake, to create more and always, always give back.