Indian Artizans is a brand that brings handicrafts made by artisans from across India. Three women, Smita Rathi, Ruchi Jhawar and Neha Baheti have all come together to create a brand that represents all of India's handicraft traditions under one name.
With their passion to showcase the beautiful work of the artisans of India, they have come together with a common goal to show the world how incredible Indian textiles and crafts are. They provide a platform for weavers and aspiring designers who want their works to be showcased. The three women, directors and co-founders of the company, bring a holistic approach to the organization by combining their strengths together to create something magical.
With Smita heading the design, Ruchi handling the sales and Neha managing the branding and marketing- the power packed all women trio run the show at Indian Artizans.
In a conversation with Guardian 20, Ruchi Jhawar talks about her company and how weavers are an important part in the fashion industry.
Q. What is Indian Artizans? What made you all to create this organisation?
A. We all had one thing in common that we were passionate to connect Indians to indigenous textiles. Indian Artizans is a brand which fulfills the criteria. We travel extensively all across the country to discover the best works of rural artisans and offer our clients the best products they have made. We help artisans with guidance, better techniques of weaving, we also help them with family issues and education, and also provide support in cases of medical emergencies. Our Mission is to build an ecosystem to empower India artisans by showcasing their creations to te world. I also believe that local arts and craftsmen are losing their identity. In a mission to preserve and showcase the age-old Indian culture through various craft forms, their focus should be primarily on creations made by traditional techniques which use hand-based processes and are unique to that particular location. Just like the culture of India, the range of traditional handicrafts is diverse. One can pick from an ambit of woven, painted, printed, brocaded, tie-and-dye, hand coloured, hand embellished, hand spun, and hand embroidered creations.
Q. What are the handicrafts being showcased here?
A. We work with the weavers from across India. We have creations from Varanasi, Kanjivaram , Bandhej in Gujarat, Jamdani from Bengal, Chikankari from Lucknow, Assamese from Assam, Chanderi from Madhya Pradesh, Patola from Patan and Paithani from Maharashtra, Maheshwari from Maheshwar and many more. We also have a western range named “Chocolate” by Smita designed from these fabrics.
Q. How has your experience been in rural India?
A. Our experience has been as diverse as our crafts are. We have seen looms in the smallest of towns and even on beaches. They have been inspired by historical events, temples, invasions and promoted from thousands of years. People are here warmer and values relationships. They try to help you as much as they can if they trust you. They are obliged that you are working for them. We have learnt how to build and value relationships from them.
Q. Who are the curators and how does it help them?
A. These artisans are the third, fourth and sometimes the fifth generation of weavers. These people are the most important part of our company and the fashion industry. We are trying to showcase their craft worldwide through our platforms which helps them not only showcasing their talent and skills but also becomes a source of earning money.
Q. How much do they earn monthly?
A. This is something that is not fixed. What an artisan earns is based on a multitude of variables like their experience, their skills, the intricacy of their work, raw materials used etc. Each design is unique and requires different skills for it. We ensure they get a price commensurate with what they produce. We want to inspire the next generation of artisans to continue this. The weaver or artisan gets a fair value for this craft.
Q. Do you think these artisans are neglected?
A. These artisans f produce a piece of heritage. They do not have connections with buyers. Their creations are sold by intermediaries who are actually the profit makers. While we hear about many NGOs working on the ground level, we have not really seen any great change. The artisans are ultimately artists. They are creative. They like to work and want to excel in their field. What they really worry about is money and their subsistence.
We also have an all “Women’s Board,” where each one of us comes with ideas and opinions when it comes to take big decisions of the company.
Q. How is your experience with weavers so far?
A. The craft being done here is complicated and time consuming. It takes years for an artisan to master the skills and sometimes the training starts from childhood. These craftsmen take great pride in their work. They have great self respect and inhabit a world of their own. Although they work to earn, they are very reluctant to part with their product. They treat it like their own child. In a town, a weaver would not let a “rich” person enter his house. It is amazing how the entire family is involved in the process and not just the person on the loom.
Q. Anything that has really surprised you.
A. The artisans and karigars have adopted technology and this has made access to customers very easy. Technologies like internet and whatsapp have really helped them in communicating with each other. Even with access to technology, the living conditions of the artisans are quite spartan. There are times when they need help with small medical issues and with their children’s education.