Finding a way out, online

Finding a way out, online

Fruitful partnership

There is more to Gujarat than famed Kutch embroidery. Each district has a distinct character that represents the craft associated with a particular community. But unlike Kutchi work, these handcrafted products haven’t caught the fancy of urban Indians who like the vibrant colours and tribal motifs these items offer.

The caveat between production and marketing is because of lack of proper channels that can help artisans directly sell products in the market, without depending on the middlemen and sharing their profits.

NGO’s like Self-Employed Women's Association of India (SEWA), helmed by Ela Bhatt, have created a burgeoning army of workers who work closely with artisans to guide them create contemporary and modern products, but not everyone is that lucky.

This is what Rahul Narvekar observed when he took a trip across India and saw how artisans were struggling because the economic viability wasn’t conducive enough for sustainability. “Consumers are gradually opening up to the idea of using Indian products in their daily lives. But procurement of genuine artisan products and awareness of genuine sources is not easy in India,” says Narvekar, chief executive officer, NDTV ethnic retail (Indianroots.com).

The idea of this online portal was born with the idea to connect local weaves and craftsmanship to a global audience.

“The local weavers and artisans don’t have access to design studios, and to make their craft saleable and contemporary, they need assistance. So, we hired fresh fashion graduates and designers to guide them so that they make appealing products,” Narvekar tells Metrolife.

But the way local NGOs know the terrain, no outsider can claim that knowledge with authority. So to reach out to a larger group of artisans, Indianroots.com collaborated with craftroots, an NGO working closely with over 10,000 artisans of several districts in Gujarat.

The NGO organises workshops for second and third generation artisans for design development, help them in documentation, and introduce them to developed technologies and innovations.

“Our main focus is to think of different ways to expose them to a larger audience. We rely on national and international exhibition for this. Apart from this we ensure that they get remuneration on time,” Anar Patel, founder of Craftroots, tells Metrolife.

Anar, Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel’s daughter, has been championing the cause of artisans for over two decades and through her NGO she has reinvigorated new lease of life into lesser-known crafts of Gujarat.

“There are many tribal areas in Gujarat and they have indigenous crafts. There are 12 types of weaving patterns, metal and stone works and different forms of pottery art. The region is flooded with craft,” points out Patel.

“Where they (artisans) lack is marketing. So we hope this association is fruitful and rejuvenates their steady area of income,” she adds.

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