India has a rich handicraft tradition that has been maintained through the hard work and devotion of weavers and craftsmen across the nation. According to IBEF, India’s overall handcraft exports hit $3.5 billion in FY20.
However, the industry has been steadily declining. It is seeing an exodus of craftspeople, particularly the younger generation, to cities in pursuit of better prospects, endangering some historic techniques.
Many artists and weavers are finding it challenging to keep up with the changing methods of doing business online as digital adoption accelerates. This is where new-age entrepreneurs come in to find a happy medium between the old and the new.
Future Sharks features five female entrepreneurs who are assisting artists and weavers in their efforts to thrive:
Most traditional Indian attires on the market, according to Akanksha Kanwal Shukla, Beatitude Akanksha Kanwal Shukla, and her husband, Pushkar Shukla, do not have a contemporary appeal.
Beatitude was founded in June 2015 by the couple to supply handwoven, handcrafted, and designer sarees, as well as dupattas, blouses, quality stoles, and artisan jewellery.
According to Akanksha, they started by working with weavers and craftsmen who were previously underpaid and ensuring they were paid directly by Beatitude.
Over the years, the company has collaborated with over 215 weavers and 692 craftsmen from Maharashtra, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, and Uttar Pradesh.
It depends on an online sales channel that includes its website and social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook. Social media sales account for around 33.6 percent of the company’s income.
Beatitude claims to have over 3.17 lakh members, and its target audience comprises persons earning at least Rs 80,000 per month. The vast majority of its customers come from Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Kolkata. The items are also sent to over 87 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, and the United Arab Emirates.
Typof, Divya Mallick
Entrepreneurs Divya Mallick and Trilochan Parida from Bhubaneshwar realised that many online marketplaces charge an onboarding fee to local craftspeople, which reduces their profitability. Through their SaaS (software-as-a-service) firm Typof, they sought to make ecommerce inexpensive and simple for artists.
The firm, which was founded in 2021, seeks to create a “Shopify for artists,” where craftsmen may choose a website design with a custom domain and all the necessary eCommerce technologies, such as an integrated payment gate and shipping choices, among others.
The portal also has a live video shopping capability, which enables artists to communicate directly with buyers about product authenticity and any issues they may have.
Typof, which has over 400 craftsmen on its site, does not charge a listing fee and instead works on a commission-based strategy. The startup charges a 10% fee on each transaction.
It also has distinct plans for its startup and business models, with membership prices of Rs 499 per month (with a 3% commission) and Rs 1,499 per month (with no commission charge).
Pine Cone, Nitika Gupta
Nikita Gupta was up in Jammu, a city famed for its handicrafts and culture. Seeing the loss of arts and crafts and craftsmen seeking for new ways to make a living, she decided to go into business.
She launched the Delhi-based home décor firm, Pine Cone, in 2020. Nikita started by sketching the ideas, sitting with the craftspeople until the prototypes were completed, and then discussing cost and pricing. The D2C (direct-to-consumer) brand sells mostly on Instagram, with some physical shops in Delhi and Hyderabad.
Nikita, an NIFT and IIM Calcutta graduate, currently works with artisans—90% of whom are women—in Assam, Manipur, sections of Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu.
Pine Cone, which was bootstrapped with a sales of Rs 9 lakh in FY22, aspires to achieve 10X growth by the end of 2025.
Maavni Designs, Smaranika Mohapatra
Smaranika Mohapatra chose to return to her birthplace in Bhubaneshwar and focus on the handicrafts she had always enjoyed after almost a decade in the IT industry with businesses such as TCS and JP Morgan Chase.
Maavni Designs, which she founded in 2019, promotes Odisha’s handicrafts around the nation. Maanvi is a combination of two words: Ma (Mother) and Avni (Earth).
Maanvi, a manufacturing and ecommerce firm, collaborates with craftsmen to create and sell home décor, clothes, and accessories.
The bootstrapped firm sends items to consumers in Singapore, Dubai, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, with monthly average orders ranging from 300 to 500. Maanvi asserts that its mission is to provide a consistent source of income.