There’s a special charm to handcrafted goods, something that stands out in all its uniqueness, and all the more so in an age of industrialized mass production. Only a few days remaining from Christmas, the festive time is a great opportunity to go for Indian exquisite handicrafts masterpieces and make a difference for at least one out of 12 million skilled artisans in the country. In an attempt to promote this fabulous living tradition, here we feature 10 social businesses working to improve craftsmen’ lives, skills and revenues:
1. Craftsvilla: launched in 2011, they call themselves the “marketplace to discover unique Indian products”, including handmade artifacts, vintage, ethnic, organic and natural products. They connect local artisans & designers directly to global customers, helping to increase their livelihood, remove middlemen, creating/promoting artisans’ brands and preserve the traditional Indian culture and traditions. Craftsvilla gathers more than 3 thousand shops and 230 thousand products. Their wonders: Kalamkari art, sarees, terracota pottery, Warli art and marble crafts.
2. Eyaas: this collective of non-governmental organizations, non-profits and artisans aims to identify not only the artisans & traditional crafts, but also those who want to buy handicrafts and are unable to find a reliable genuine source. Eyaas is also addressing the larger issues of unskilled labor, urban- migration and tries to find a way to end the cycle of poverty. Their wonders: Christmas décor, lanterns, dinner and tableware, candle and incense holders.
3. Fusion Craft: through design intervention and assistance, Fusion Craft created a range of products which are a unique. The idea to create the brand was born out of a research project on Indian handicraft to assess the market and reality of the Indian handicraft sector vis-à-vis the handicrafts of other countries. Their wonders: metalware, silver pieces and lamps.
4. Gaatha: the business model was designed to sell crafts as a source of stories and ideologies, telling the tales, traditions and processes associated with each art. With the e-store, they bring opportunities to artisans and improve their financial situation. Gaatha’s wonders: Indigo-dyied Sarees, wooden boxes and shrines, metal kitchenware, jewelry and shawls/scarves.
5. The Handicraft Store: based in Hyderabad, The Handicraft Store is linked to six traditional artisans’ families in the rural areas of Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. They provide sustainable, enriching and quality opportunities to master craftsman or self help groups and bring to people mainstream Indian art, also offering customized orders to the corporate sector. Their wonders are: wall hanging arts, wooden crafts and Kalamkari panels.
6. Indya Kaleidoscope: what started as a blog on décor has grown to an initiative which brings affordable Indian Handicrafts to people and currently works to improve the lives of six rural self help groups and two artisans. IK runs an e-shop and a retail store in Koramangala, Bangalore. Their wonders: metal ware collection, Kantha printed cushions and Ajanta murals.
7. Jaipur Rugs: through the social initiative “Jaipur Rugs Foundation”, they are linked to 40
thousand artisans, most of them women, around five Indian states. JRF contributes to rural development by providing skill building and skill up-gradation trainings to those artisans who are associated with carpet weaving and thereby substantially increase their income. Jaipur Rugs’ wonders are their unique designed rugs, pillows and puffs.
8. Mesh: provides opportunities for disabled and leprosy-affected artisans to achieve social and economic integration by trading. Mesh has shops in Delhi and Hyderabad and their products can also be found in various e-commerces abroad in Britain, Germany and Sweden. Their wonders: hand-made toys, greeting cards, silk scarves and hand-painted papier maché gift boxes.
9. Punarnawa Crafts: In a bid to preserve traditional handicraft practices from extinction, keep its rich history alive and empower local rural communities, Punarnawa Crafts is creating livelihood chains for artisans via skill & design development trainings. Currently, it is engaged in six districts in Odisha state in both textiles and non-textiles crafts and more than eight crafts, reaching more than 100 artisans. Their wonders: tote bags, hand woven Kaincha baskets and laptop/mobile pouches.
10. Rangsutra: Rangsutra’s artisans come from Rajastan’s desert and the hills of Assam and Uttarakhand. Started in 2006 in an attempt to fulfill its founder’s dream to provide sustainable livelihood to thousand artisans from these remote regions, Rangsutra builds a bridge between artisans & customers, tradition & the contemporary, change & continuity. Their wonders: apparels and home furnishings.