In developing economies, rapid industrialization poses a threat to unorganized sectors, which are unable to adapt to new modes of consumption. In India, weak infrastructure, unsustainable business models and competition from mass production has led to a crisis for the handicrafts and handloom industry. My experience in the field suggests that the industry requires unique business solutions that would fit simultaneously specific cultural functions while following global modes of operation.
My goal is to contribute to the sustainability project worldwide, by borrowing not just design motifs, but also design intelligence from India’s heritage arts.
To be specific, as a new-age entrepreneur and designer, I intend to combine budget, performance-efficient materials, and environmental suitability to increase durability, control depreciation, and thereby reduce the carbon footprint of our productions.
In addition, creating socially responsible business opportunities for Indian craftspersons is one of my objectives, so that the legacy and livelihoods of the keepers of our traditions are protected.
Artisan Journey Map
Understanding the landscape
Hence, how might we reimagine Kashmiri papier mache artisan sector?
In 2016, this gave my impetus to establish an entrepreneurial venture “Revived by Surabhi”, which currently works with national award winning Kashmiri artisans. The collaboration has created a varied catalogue of utilitarian objects including storage boxes, pen cases, paperweights and wall art. We retained traditional tools, materials and pigments, and transfused aesthetic modes of kari-kalamdani into quotidian articles.
So far, we have adopted social media and online journalism marketing strategies to widen our appeal beyond the niche audience of green users, and have succeeded in creating a loyal base of customers.
Currently, developing an e-commerce platform to impact their businesses and educate others of their products.