From afar, 23-year-old Rajni Upadhyay’s handicrafts look like regular wooden artworks idols depicting deities and animals, wall hangings and decorative items. But take a closer look and you will notice that each item is made of coir, a natural fibre extracted from coconut husk.
Rajni Upadhyay with her handicrafts. Pics/Nimesh Dave
Upadhyay, who hails from Wankaner, a small city in Rajkot district of Gujarat, is the youngest of eight sisters. But rather than getting her married off at an early age, as was the norm in her neighbourhood, her family encouraged her to set up her own business. In 2011, she signed up for a government project, which was meant to empower women, to learnt the art of making handicraft items.
This August, Upadhyay successfully opened her own shop, Shri Bhuvaneshwar Sainath Articles, back home. “We make idols of Lord Ganesha and Radha Krishna, along with wall hangings, festoons and decorative pieces using coir, which I procure from Ahmedabad,” says the entrepreneur, who is assisted by two helpers.
Early this year, Upadhyay took part in her first exhibition in Mumbai, where all her goods were sold out, and started retailing them at a store in Borivli this month.
Each item, measuring one to four feet in height, is completed within two hours. After creating the shape by compressing the fibre by hand on cardboard cut outs, she decorates it with tassels, sequins, mirrors, threads, laces and cloth materials.
“I have conducted workshops across Gujarat where I trained children and adults to make handicrafts with coconut fibre. Each piece costs Rs 200-350. My items are also sold on a wholesale basis, wherein each item is available for Rs 100,” she says.
Rajni Upadhyay’s handicraft pieces are available at Darshi Shree Sales, 20 Jai Hind Colony, SV Road, Daulat Nagar, Borivli East.
Call: 80824455555 (Praful Upadhyay) or 9724447200