The artisan goes online. Why are basket weavers in Tamil Nadu uploading pictures of their products? Find out more
Manoj Gupta and his wife Monica were married for eight years before they decided to get into business together a year ago. After working abroad for a couple of years they decided to return to India and travel.
Rabari embroidery bag at Rs 499
During one of these trips the couple found that each part of the country had a unique collection of handicrafts that was virtually unexplored in the retail market. Gupta, who has worked in e-commerce sites Yebhi.com and Snapdeal.com realised the potential of these products in an international market. Together with Monica, he founded Craftsvilla.com, an online marketplace for Indian products.
Meenakari earrings are priced at Rs 249 a pair
Showcasing over 60,000 products, Indian handicrafts come alive on their site and benefits are ploughed back to the areas where the craft belongs. Explains, "We're a team of 50 people based in Jaipur working with more than 1,000 artisans around the country. We sell products that are made from Kashmir to Tamil Nadu. The products include clothing, jewellery, footwear, furniture and religious items made using palm leaf, coir, stone and marble."
This palm leaf potli bag proves that good things come in small packages,
cost Rs 459
How do artisans benefit from working with Craftsvilla.com? "Their gain is three-fold. Artisans interact directly with consumers. The absence of middlemen ensures an increase in artisans' income thanks to high margins. It is a challenge for them to sell their products on the Internet, but we take care of that. They don't know how to market their products so we package the products free of cost, photograph them, upload the photographs and sometimes, even manage their inventory," says Gupta.
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The products range from crochet jewellery from Bihar, tribal jewellery from Orissa, Meenakari jewellery from Jaipur, bandhni and leheriya products from Kutch, and bapar products from Nagaland to palm leaf and banana fibre products from South India. There are also products like the Sundaram soap made near Gangotri by sadhus and topra products from West Bengal. The price ranges between Rs 100 and Rs 10,000.
"We also have an initiative called the Artisan Fund. The money goes towards educating children of the artisans and acquainting them with the Internet," he says.
The basket weaver can also go viral. "With the help of their phones, artisans upload pictures of their products with descriptions in their local language. We have a software that translates the descriptions to English and uploads the pictures to the site. It is very convenient for the artisans as well," explains Gupta.