This startup with an all-women board is taking beautiful creations born in India’s bylanes to a global audience

A power-packed all women's trio, who prefer being known as ‘craftoholics’, is running the show at Indian Artizans - a Rajasthan-based startup which gets historical and beautiful handcrafted creations made by grassroot level artisans from across India delivered to a global audience. Their focus is primarily on showcasing & reviving creations made by traditional techniques that use hand-based processes and are unique and local in their appeal.

Two years ago, all three women Smita Rathi, Ruchi Jhawar and Neha Baheti, came together to create a brand with a common goal - to show to the world how incredible Indian textiles and crafts truly are! So, it’s clear that the married ladies shared the same passion, but that was not really the only reason that knit them together. Known to each other for pretty long, they were quick to realize that each one had a different set of expertise, which if put to use collectively, could help them run a company together. This led to the birth of Indian Artizans. Today, Smita heads the design, Ruchi heads sales and strategy while Neha leads all the creative and marketing activities for the brand.

“We started in September 2013 in a small way trying to understand the market better. However, six months back we opened our first store in Jaipur and our online portal. The response has been overwhelming. We have shipped our products not only to people in different states, but also abroad mainly to the USA, Australia and the Middle East,” says Ruchi Jhawar, Co-founder, Director and Sales & Strategy leader, Indian Artizans.

Explaining to us the operations, Ruchi informs that the team has travelled to discover the best works of local artisans, and her company today works with artisans in as many as 20 regions across the country.

“Our artisans are talented creators who understand the historical richness of their products better than we do. Keeping in mind the various ancient styles that prevail in India, we sit down with them to discuss new designs that can be incorporated into their traditional creations meaningfully. They then choose the quality of the cloth and colour depending on what we want the price of the product to be and make it for us,” she says, adding that the finished products are not only sold via their own website and store, but also through several boutiques and stores they have tied up with across the country.

Smita who takes care of design loved designing her own dresses since her school and college days. “I would make anarkalis and lehengas from my mother's sarees. At Indian Artizans I take my designing passion to the next level by working on the handwoven creations of the artisans. I give my cuts, designs, embellishments and create unique designs to add value to the artisanal creations."

How do these women founders ensure a fair price to them, we ask? For their service, the artisans are “paid handsomely” based on each and every creation. Ruchi says: “Initially weavers would be connected to traders, but we have no place for middlemen in our business. We directly deal with the artisans and cultivate our relationships with them carefully as we know that they take pride in what they do. They do not allow even the rich to get in their looms, so just the fact that they working with us means we have been able to engage with them. Our aim is to highlight them world over. Also, these days everyone has technology. They can see for what price we are selling their creations. That keeps us under check all the time.”

To further validate her point, she adds: “We are also now the member of the alliance of artisans worldwide. What we are trying to do is understand the best practices worldwide and replicate it in our business practices.”

Indian Artizans does not worry about marketing, because they feel their collection speaks for itself. “I want customers to see my design and quality. They are totally assured of our customer and after-sale service. So, it’s just about getting customer for the first time and I hope to have a happy customer back. If we had to put money somewhere, we would like to contribute into doing something for our artisans,” says Ruchi.

In these two years, Indian Artizans has become a platform for creative artisans and small-time designers to launch their work. The website shows a collection of hand woven, painted, printed, brocaded, tie-and-dye, embellished, spun and embroidered creations in the form of sarees, stoles, dupattas, dresses, lehengas, kurtis, accessories to list a few. As the founders look for raising funds now, Ruchi asks women who want to become budding entrepreneurs to take the plunge. “Just go for it! The more you want to do, the more support will pour in. And when you do something great, your family and everyone around you will take pride in it,” say the women brigade paving way for others.
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