Bengal calling

Regional flavours

Bengal calling

A year back, four Bengalis living in the City decided to get together to popularise the artwork of West Bengal and North-East India. Arnab Roy, Amitabh Chanda, Debolina Mukherjee and Subhadip Duttagupta started ‘Happisage’, an online portal where customers can gain easy access to handicraft from the depths of the country.

Arnab says the aim of the start-up was mainly to connect Bengaluru to the arts and craft of rural India on an e-commerce platform. “West Bengal has a rich handicrafts culture and we can’t get that sitting in Bengaluru. Places like Shantiniketan are a three-hour drive from Kolkata but their products aren’t so easily available here. We haven’t even tapped one per cent of the production capacity.”

    The group also taps into areas like Pondicherry and takes the help of NGOs. “This is our way of giving back to society. If people don’t want to donate to a charity or NGO, they can instead buy the products made by the NGO, which we sell on our site. This way, we are encouraging people to give back to society in some small way,” he says. They sell everything from accessories and handmade paper to bowls, ceramics and jute-wear.

How did the group begin? Arnab says that Debolina and him were throwing ideas around to start something of their own when it hit them that if they wanted to buy a Rajasthani accessory or a Kashmiri shawl, it would be hard to get it home delivered, with the assurance of good quality. “Since we all are from West Bengal, we decided to start from there.

We did our research, travelled to different parts of the state, found vendors and artisans who we get our goods from,” he adds. All the products ‘Happisage’ sells is supposedly eco-friendly and chemical free. “These days, there is a larger market for ‘green’ products. All our products are stamped with an ‘eco-friendly’ seal on them – these products are more durable,” says Arnab.

How do they check that the artisans aren’t ‘cheating’ and using chemicals? “It’s not really possible to check what every artisan uses so we depend on and trust them. You can make out from the quality of the products itself.”  He says they are mainly an online portal but they didn’t do too well when they first started. “That’s why we exhibit our work at flea markets and exhibitions – shoppers get an idea of the products and the concept behind it. We wanted to spread the message through word of mouth.”

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