From handpainted leather wall clocks to papier-mache masks, bamboo beer mugs and Benarasi stoles, online shopping portal GiftPiper will make shopaholics across the country dance to its tunes
The common side effects of being a shopaholic include a perpetually half-empty wallet, a room full of hoarded goodies and the delusion that wares you spot inside shops or at exhibitions are calling out to you to pick them. In the case of chronic shopaholic Richa Pandey, it inspired her to start a website titled GiftPiper.
Launched in May this year, the 35 year-old Gurgaon-based 'Chief GiftPiper' boasts of a background in engineering and management. But after working with top-notch companies including Infosys, she found her calling in sharing her passion for handicrafts through an online portal.
Leaving a goodie trail behind
As the website elegantly states, "This venture was born out of my obsession with digging out beautiful, handcrafted things at bargain prices. Like the fabled piper, I leave each new place I visit with a trail of goodies following me."
The product inventory includes Gond tribal paintings on silk stoles, hand-painted leather clocks and lampshades, Madhubani / Kantha work stoles with bird and tree motifs, brass ethnic jewellery, papier-mache Ganeshas, bamboo beer mugs, bead embroidered clutches and aari work purses with designs of bridal processions. We liked their canvas bags with slipper prints, bamboo jewellery, Kutchi wall hangings, Pattachitra paintings and Warli greeting cards. They are open to customising products as well.
Unearthing hidden gems
To stock up the virtual shelves, Pandey has had to travel to the remotest corners of the country and dig out unconventional artefacts from exhibitions. "The aim was to ensure the products are hand made, unique, stylish and offer great value for money. None of it is run-of-the-mill," she says, admitting that her love for the arts came from watching her mother stitching and embroidering away at home.
One for the team
GiftPiper has award-winning artisans as well as child artists on board and creating awareness about artisans behind the product is also a part of Pandey's wishlist. "During my journey to the interior regions of India, I came across numerous talented artists who were exploited and cheated of their due. Their craftsmanship is impeccable but they are unable to market themselves properly which hinders their reach," adds Pandey.
To ensure the artisans get their due, the site lists the name of the artisan / organisation and the history behind the product. Pandey hopes to soon offer small informative booklets alongwith the products as well.
So far, GiftPiper works with 5 artist groups in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Jharkhand and Patiala. Select products from certain artisans across the country also make it to the website. They are also associated with an NGO from Jharkhand, which provides artefacts made by employing 350 underprivileged women.
Pandey is a one-woman army at the moment and admits that its tough to manage the fledgling website along with her two-year old daughter. "I have a good support system and my husband helps out with the Internet marketing. I also apply all the management fundas I gathered over the years. This is my passion in life and I wouldn't have it any other way," she concludes.