The Indian handicrafts sector provides livelihoods to millions of people around the country, especially women. However, linking small-scale rural producers to urban and global markets has been a challenge. Efficiently connecting buyers and seller in the handicrafts and handmade clothing market could have an exponential impact by improving the incomes of the poor and help preserve crafts that are rapidly disappearing.CraftsVilla.com is aiming to do exactly that, using the power of the Internet.
This is definitely not a new idea. World of Good was a pioneer in this space and was successfully sold to Ebay in 2010. Meanwhile, Etsy.com dominates the online crafts business globally. In April, Etsy saw sales of $63 million with 2.3 million items sold for the month. Vast majority of Etsy’s sellers and buyers are based in the US. However, its biggest drawback is that you have to be an individual artisan to sell a product on the site. Etsy does not allow a collective of artisans or NGOs representing them to list on the site, thus making it inaccessible to vast number of Indian artisans, who do not have the resources or knowledge to list and sell their products on Etsy.
Seems like this is the sweet spot for Craftsvilla, which was created for the Indian market. Working not just with individual producers, but also with NGOs and collectives, the site has been able to make inroads into the Indian crafts industry. They have 500 registered sellers and more than 2 million registered user. Not bad for a site started in 2011.
Below is the excerpt from press release sent to TCI by Craftsvilla
Vandana Agarwal, a trustee of NGO Gramshree says that they started reporting a sharp spike in sales after they started selling on CraftsVilla. This is what she had to say, “Our artisans are mostly women and work day and night to produce amazing handcrafted cushion covers, bags and bedsheets. We started working with CraftsVilla in early 2011 and recorded a 500% jump in business in the first six months alone. They have supported education of girl child, few of our artisans and helped increase our business considerably. Now we have a dedicated staff only working for CraftsVilla.com. We hope to grow to 10 times of what we are today with the help of CraftsVilla.com”
As more and more Indians are buying products online, Craftsvilla is a well-timed venture. It would be interesting to see if the venture can keep up this initial momentum and take on Etsy in its own game.