When Sumati Jalan left Bihar to pursue education, she found herself facing the stereotypes that people from the state are often subject to.

“When people would meet me, they would say that I did not ‘look’ Bihari. This, as per them, was the best compliment for me,” says the 43-year-old Patna resident.

Today Sumati runs Bihart, a clothing brand that is her bid to challenge the stereotypes of her culturally rich state. She moved back home permanently to start this in 2018.

From mulberry silk sarees, crop tops, and tote bags to handmade Sujani dolls and extra weft cushions, the brand creates contemporary designs using age-old crafts.

“Bihar is very culturally rich, but except for Madhubani paintings and Bhagalpuri Tussar silk weaves, its other crafts are not very well known,” she says.

“For instance, Sujani and Sikki, and weaves like extra weft are either lost or on the verge of extinction. We are trying to revive these crafts and show the beauty of Bihar through art,” she adds.

Bihart is a zero-waste company. It uses leftover cuttings of fabric, makes embroidery over them, and imprints it on Khadi fabric to make crop tops.

Launched in 2020, Bihart brings in monthly sales of Rs 1.5 lakh. Most of the sales come from Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai, and Goa.

Sumati believes that she has been able to cater to the objectives with which she started Bihart.

“Many customers from cities like Delhi, Bengaluru, and Mumbai make an effort to come and see Bihart. I see a flicker of change in their mindset about Bihar and its art,” she shares.