Traditional crafts find web space

On various corporate trips to the US, Siddhant Garg noticed how the traditional Indian handmade crafts fetched far lower prices than other countries including China.

“The divide in price point was so high. I believe, it wasn’t reflecting the efforts put in by Indian artisans,” says Garg. That is when he decided to start an online social cause initiative to promote the traditional artisans and their efforts through non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which subsequently began in 2013. “Our main aim is to take traditional and unique Indian art from those skilled hands into the markets,” Garg tells Metrolife.

As a lifestyle-product based e-commerce portal, Zarood identifies and works with artisans to develop contemporary designs of preserved art forms. “Handmade products mark the beauty of creation. In our journey of last several months, we have come across several instances of institutions that are promoting several causes like intellectual disability, women empowerment etc. We met the people behind these institutions and realised that the work being done by them is of very significant in today’s time,” avers Garg.

While NGO Muskaan’s people with disabilities make a variety of daily use products including wax candles and stationery items, Dhaani’s women weave mats, durries and make jute bags and Jogira’s women make Sikki grass souvenirs. “On interactions and research, we found that almost all the goods that were produced through their works were being sold through physical stores or a few random marketing activities. The reality of artisans revolves around suppliers, payments and middlemen. Given the emergence of e-commerce marketplaces nowadays, we offered to put their products on the web. In turn, we want to spread the word about the causes that are being promoted by these institutions and make their products more accessible to people across India,” describes the 48-year-old.

He adds, “Take for instance, the women from Bihar and other parts of India who have been identified and trained over two years by Dhaani and are now financial contributors in their families. This has given them respect and self esteem.  The products created by them are comparable to the work of art; jute bags and cushions covers are few such products that can be found in vivid styles and designs.”

As part of the initiative, two per cent of every order is contributed to their Social Foundation – Nav Chetna Seva Sansthan. “The idea is to provide health care insurance, education loans, skill development programs and workshops and seminars to artisans because until the indigenous crafts are supported, the grassroots can’t progress,” says Garg who looks forward to participate in the upcoming Kala Ghoda Art Festival in Mumbai.

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