The growth and success story of FabIndia is lending a hand of inspiration to several producers of handloom products in the country, to explore avenues for direct retailing to their customers. “We are trying to create a platform which has a direct access to retail market slowly as we believed that if artisans and weavers were to be provided more regular work, it was important for organizations like ours to break from the dependence on larger organizations for job work,” says Vikash K Pathak, Founder, Tana Bana, a supplier to FabIndia.
Started in 2009, Tana Bana (meaning warp & weft) is an experiment to create a self-sustaining organization co-owned by artisans, weavers, promoters, employees and investors in Bhagalpur Bihar. Working with weavers, Tana Bana focuses on value addition and overtime, intends to create a viable online platform to sell handicraft products directly to retail customers.
Catering to a clientele ranging from FabIndia to other small retailers, Tana Bana produces silk and hand woven products such as silk sarees, stoles, duppattas, kurtas and fabrics made of Bhagalpur silk. They have also started selling their products through SEWA in Ahmedabad and a few other stores under their own brand name – Tana Bana. With good response from the retail outlets and increase in the number of queries through Facebook and website, the brand is also looking to explore online retailing in a big way. Interestingly, so far, Tana Bana is the only organization in Bihar & Jharkhand that offers cash-on-delivery to customers. Most of their sales happen through Facebook with customers mailing them the product codes and they ship them products based on cash-on-delivery.
With sustainability at the heart of their enterprise, Tana Bana works closely with the artisans to build a self-sustaining community by supporting them with design, trainings, skill development, credit and including them as stakeholders in the company. In order to extend the role of the community, the Common Facility Center hosing Tana Bana’s stitching unit will soon be handed over to the community directly with the company providing them constant support with credit. Furthermore, Tana Bana intends to set up formal and informal groups where weavers, artisans and women could become members enabling a collective decision making process on their wages, pricing etc as a protective measure against individual exploitation.
Thought Vikash founded Tana Bana, Sujit Kumar Jha has recently joined them as CEO, to clearly avoid the dependency of the organization on one person and place it in the hands of the community. “I am trying to make sure that the dependence on me is also reduced over a period of time. There cannot be a better feeling than to see an organization which you create, stand on its own feet and doesn’t depend on you anymore,” says Vikash.
Tana Bana’s marketing efforts are diverse focusing on both online and offline channels. They work with other enterprises like FabIndia for bulk orders. They also partners with offline retail stores apart from online sales and exhibitions. Going forward our main focus will be on online marketing & creating a platform for bringing along various handcrafts products from producers directly
Like itshandmade, Aporv, Kraftinn (North Eastern handicraft) and others before them, Tana Bana is also headed towards creating a market place for handicraft producers from across the country with a vision to create a unified brand that represents the handicrafts of India. “At the same time our bulk production business will continued to be focused on and silk & weaving aspect will remain core to our work,” says Vikash.
The ecommerce boom has definitely had its effect on producers who are now keen on exploring the option of ecommerce for a constant inflow of revenue as retailers even during off-season. This is likely to add to the quality of life of the artisan community by providing them with work and income throughout the year. But this will only be an arrangement that supplements the main offline business for the bulk orders from other avenues. The road ahead is one that will be a combination of brick and click with one leg in the online space and the other in offline.
For more information on Tana Bana, take a look at their website.