This woman entrepreneur from Bhubaneswar quit her cushy job to start an artisanal home decor brand
Blessed with a rich crafts heritage, India’s art forms are famous all over the world for their intricacy and attention to detail. From east to west and north to south, each region inherits a plethora of unique art forms that may not be known to the outside world.
Thirty-four years old Arpita Sahu also realised the same when she came back from the US after working with multiple corporations like The Coca-Cola Company and Colgate-Palmolive.
“When I came back to Odisha after a few stints outside, I realised there is immense talent in my homeland, with Pattachitra being one of the most beautiful and intricate detailed art forms. I always had a creative side to me which was left unexplored. So, I jumped at the first opportunity of starting a creative business when I discovered the immense scope of our Indian folk art forms,” says Arpita in an interview with SMBStory.
Arpita established Bhubaneswar-basedin 2019 on her own. She claims that within the next few months, her company aims to touch a revenue of Rs 1 crore.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
SMBStory [SMBS]: What is Vintage Vistara and how did you start the company?
Arpita Sahu [AS]: Vintage Vistara is an artisanal brand that showcases various Indian art forms through their home decor and furnishing products fusing traditional art forms with contemporary styles.
I started this company in 2019 after quitting my job in a quest to explore the creative side within me. I started the execution of my first idea on a functional wall clock. It came out pretty well and the style was something people had not seen before.
At present, we deal with a wide product range in numerous art forms, including Pattachitra, Madhubani, Kalamkari, and more. We started the brand by selling through Etsy and now we are shipping worldwide also through our ecommerce store. We receive on an average of 500 orders a month, making revenue of Rs 50 lakh annually.
SMBS: How many artisans and craftsmen do you employ and from where are the raw materials sourced?
AS: Vintage Vistara employs around 12 artists and four craftsmen from across the country. We deal in home decor products, trays, coasters, wall decor, bullheads, wall plates, hand-painted sarees, bags etc.
Most of our wood and medium-density fibreboard (MDF) is sourced from Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh where a team of talented craftsmen shape them based on our needs. The animal head structures are done in Kerala and we are constantly exploring new structures with them. The metal products come from West Bengal and clocks from Delhi. They are all finished and prepared for painting in our workshop at Bhubaneswar, Odisha. So, our products really travel places before they are final and sent to the customers.
SMBS: What major challenges did you face while running the business?
AS: The biggest challenge is to scale up since we are an exclusively hand-painted store and there is only so much that human hands can do. While the pleasure of owning a unique handmade/handpainted product is unmatched, the process behind making the product is very long.
In the world of fast fashion and fast shipping, it gets really difficult to convince customers to wait for products. That feels like a big challenge. Also, we always try to increase the knowledge about the art form first so that people understand the importance and history of our Indian art forms and know exactly what they are paying a premium for. This awareness is yet to come wholly to the Indian audience who prefer to receive products faster and at a cheaper price.
SMBS: What are your plans going ahead?
AS: We aim to tap international audiences in more countries through Etsy, and we are also experimenting with more art forms. We wish to touch a revenue of Rs 1 crore in the coming financial year, as both our product range and the team are growing. We are looking at hiring 50 more artists this year and expanding our artforms to lesser-known creators. We have big plans on expanding to the handloom space as well.
Edited by Kanishk Singh