Mayil Scarves are Unique, colorful handmade scarves for every season and wardrobe.
Madavi Oliver is the founder of Mayil Scarves. She grew up surrounded by the colors, fabrics and traditions of tropical southern India. She comes from a family of weavers and textile artists and immigrated to the United States in her twenties. Her great grandfather owned a silk saree shop in Nagercoil, a city in southern India, and her cousin used to hand-weave exquisite silk sarees.
Madavi’s love for textiles is abundantly clear and she describes it as “always having felt in tune with the weave and flow of fabric”.After moving to America and away from her family, Madavi found herself with less time to explore her creativity and love for arts and textiles. She worked for the Harvard School of Public Health as a biomedical engineer studying asthma while also managing to raise her two children. She would travel back to India with her own family and continued to seek out opportunities to shop for fabrics and design creatively while she was there.
Madavi had always loved accentuating her outfits with colorful dupattas wrapped as scarves. A dupatta is the long flowing draped fabric of the traditional Indian 3-piece clothing set (the other two pieces the tunic style top and pants or a skirt). Whenever she wore these dupattas to work or to pick up her kids from school, lots of women noticed, complimented her, and asked her to bring them scarves back from India. In the early years she shopped for her friends and colleagues in India, and when she returned, did a few trunk shows out of her garage. She also sold scarves at fundraising events.
In 2010 when her children were a bit older and the opportunity came, Madavi moved back to India for a year (calling it her midlife adventure). She went to further explore her ancestral weaving heritage and that’s when Mayil Scarves was born. Mayil means “peacock” in Tamil, her native language, and one of the oldest surviving classical languages in the world. Eighteenth century tailors were known to use the peacock feather as a symbol for their fine fabric creations. Just like the feathers of the peacock, Mayil scarves are a kaleidoscope of bright and bold colors.
Over the past five years, Madavi has travelled all around India to learn about different heritage textiles, meet weavers and find unique fabrics. When she finds a fabric she likes, she sends it to an all-female tailoring and design team in southern India who help transform large fabric pieces into Mayil scarves, wraps, and bandanas.
This team of women earn a living in a manner that is convenient for them, in their own homes. They can work on mother’s schedule and are able to complete all of their tasks at their own pace. Madavi has exposed them to new concepts, helped nourish their creativity, and feels incredibly humbled to help a few women achieve financial independence, safely, in a career they enjoy.
After the scarves are complete, she coordinates with her photography team (mainly family and friends) to take photos of the products to list online. Mavadvi fulfills and ships all of the orders, by hand, herself and even offers to personally assist each customer choose the perfect scarf to fit their needs.
To avoid using plastic the Mayil 1663 Scarves come with a “churuku pai” cloth pouch. Churuku is the Tamil word for “bring together”or “close an opening”, and pai means bag. This drawstring travel pouch matches the Mayil 1663 Scarf and can be reused to store jewelry, earbuds, candy, or other scarves.
Looking back, Madavi only wishes she had started on her Mayil Scarves journey earlier in her life, when she was younger and filled with endless energy. But she acknowledges she simply didn’t have the time between work and family. In any case she is grateful to take this journey now. She feels the universe has been very kind to her and has directed her here at the perfect time.
Through Mayil Scarves, Madavi hopes to create joy and beauty through color, to empower women to become financially independent, spread awareness about Indian culture and art, and help women look and feel great about themselves.
The Mayil 1663 Chiffon Scarf (and matching travel pouch) is lightweight and can be styled in endless ways for all seasons. As a neck scarf, hair tie, head wrap, bandanna, hat accessory, a belt, and so much more. With so many beautiful, diverse styles in this collection there’s bound to be a print perfect for you.
Shop the Mayil 1663 collection here: MayilScarves.com
and be sure to follow them on instagram @MayilScarves
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Until next time…