Brands
YSTV
Discover
Events
Newsletter
More

Follow Us

twitterfacebookinstagramyoutube
Yourstory

Brands

Resources

Stories

General

In-Depth

Announcement

Reports

News

Funding

Startup Sectors

Women in tech

Sportstech

Agritech

E-Commerce

Education

Lifestyle

Entertainment

Art & Culture

Travel & Leisure

Curtain Raiser

Wine and Food

Videos

This mother-daughter duo is empowering Indian homemakers by teaching them to craft sustainable stationery and accessories

Kota-based Ekatra, which also appeared on the latest season of Shark Tank India, is leveraging one of the country’s most underutilised resources: homemakers.

This mother-daughter duo is empowering Indian homemakers by teaching them to craft sustainable stationery and accessories

Wednesday September 13, 2023 , 4 min Read

Homemakers are some of the most underutilised and skilled resources in India. According to an EY report, 11% of Indian homemakers are already engaged in part-time jobs/side business or the family business, expanding their skills and experience, while 17% of younger homemakers said they were willing to start working from home.

After a visit to communities in Ladakh and Uttarakhand for project work as an urban planning student at Srishti Manipal Institute of Art, Design, and Technology, Bengaluru, this realisation led Aishwarya Jhawar to create Ekatra.

The organisation — that Aishwarya runs with her mother Minakshi Jhawar — sells sustainable, handmade stationery and accessories, all crafted by homemakers trained by Ekatra.

I was working with homemakers for these projects. That helped me understand that these are people who don't necessarily come from craft communities and yet are still skilled in everything that they do; but their time is not being monetised. I connected those dots back to my own hometown (Kota, Rajasthan) and found that this is not a single community specific issue, Aishwarya explains.

Ekatra began as a handmade stationery stall that Aishwarya put up at a college pop-up, following which she received a large order for a conference, for which Minakshi onboarded a few homemakers to help them out.

Starting up under the brand Ekatra, Aishwarya began working part time on the company along with her mother in 2019. Alongside, she took a job up in Pune as a space designer for coworking spaces.

But when COVID hit, Fabindia spotted us and became our clients. Since that required a lot of time and energy and because we did not have an established team in place, I returned home and started working on this full time. That's how it took off, she says.

While retaining clients was an issue for the duo earlier, Aishwarya says being able to focus on Ekatra full time since 2021 has helped them land clients and turn profitable. The company has crossed Rs 1 crore turnover, with net profits at 27%.

Ekatra has so far partnered with 45 homemakers who are all based in Kota, Rajasthan. All received a seven-day training course in handicrafts to maintain high quality across products.

While creating sustainable paper and fabric stationery and other accessories is the brand’s mainstay, helping homemakers become financially and socially independent by earning money for their families is what drives Aishwarya and Minakshi.

Aishwarya shares the story of one of Ekatra’s lead homemaker-turned-artisans. “Faimida lost her husband during COVID. There was nobody in her family to take care of her three daughters and one son. She got in touch with us through her relatives, and ever since she's been earning a good Rs 18-20,000 a month, with which she can send her daughters to school. She's become one of our lead artisans, and is very persistent and clean in her work.

Another homemaker, Anjum, was a beedi maker. Her husband earned very little money. After becoming an artisan with Ekatra, Anjum began earning more for her family. Aishwarya adds, People like her become more financially independent, and they have a lot more say in their households and decision making.

Minakshi takes care of production and procurement while Aishwarya takes the lead in business development and design, which allows them to work in tandem

The two also featured in the latest season of startup pitching reality television show Shark Tank India, where Ekatra raised Rs 40 lakh in funding from Peyush Bansal, Co-founder and Chief Executive and People Officer, Lenskart.com, and Amit Jain, Co-founder and CEO, CarDekho, at a valuation of Rs 1 crore.

About appearing on the show, Aishwarya shares, To be honest, it was super-scary, but it was also a lot of fun. We didn't see ourselves as a startup so we never planned to raise funds or scale up this much. But it all eventually happened. The sharks were really warm even though we were very nervous, and we got some good feedback that we’re currently working on.

In addition to helping them prepare for their Shark Tank India appearance, Aishwarya says the Rajasthan government’s startup programme, iStart Rajasthan, has supported their journey from the start.

iStart has played a crucial role in every milestone Ekatra has achieved. From Shark Tank preparations to opening doors for international clientele, it has been a key mentor in our journey, Aishwarya says.

With their sights set on expanding to international markets, the wedding industry, corporates, and physical experience centres, Ekatra also aims to grow its network of homemakers to empower even more Indian women. For this, it will partner with existing government artisan outreach programmes and corporate projects and help with skill training.