The artisan revival
In India, we are at the sweet spot where technology meets culture and tradition meets innovation. Some of our most outstanding seller success stories come from traditional artisans discovering new markets and gaining new customers on Amazon. Take the story of Orissa’s traditional Patta Chitra that went from relying entirely on local sales networks to finding patrons across the country or the artisans from UP who found new markets after Tied Ribbons took their art pan India. For Bangalore’s 40-year old Rajasthan Emporium, the generations old dream of finding a place for the state’s traditional crafts in every Indian home has finally come true. And then, there are the traditional weavers of heirloom Pochampally weave. What started as a slow and steady transformation to adopting technology for a self-sufficient sales network is today a full-fledged and completely revived cottage industry in Telangana.
Handlooms and Handicrafts are given pride of place on Amazon where you can find everything from Khadi, Ajrakh, Ikat, and Mangalagiri silks to curios handcrafted from wood. Handspun & handwoven Khadi is the purest form of textile and is eco-friendly with zero carbon footprint. Based out of Varanasi, the Jan Kalyan Khadi Gramodyog Parishad has hundreds of artisans working with them to make everything from men’s formal shirts to lungis, towels & stoles. Every product is inspired by the symbol of integrity & a love for Made in India products.
Dr. Ismail Mohmed Khatri has achieved the incredible feat of reviving an ancient 400-year-old art with virtually no change in technique. Using this beautiful block-printing technique called Ajrakh, involving 16 steps to create, his son today makes Mulmul sarees, dupattas and stoles that he sells on Amazon.
“We feel satisfied and encouraged when buyers appreciate our work,” says Mr Ajay Sharma who started DreamKraft. He works with traditional craftsmen from all over the country to create one-of-a-kind home décor, home linen and gifts. Selling on Amazon allowed him to scale up quickly, quit his day job, and dedicate all his time to his passion. Battu Ashwini Kumar explains, “Of all online marketplaces, Amazon has worked wonders for me. It contributes to more than 30% of my total revenue.” Her four-generation old ancestral business makes handloom Chirala weave products that are processed to be much softer than the average handloom fabric.
Selling through seasonal exhibitions or through middlemen was the norm for most of these artisans. But now selling online through Amazon has helped them reduce overheads, drive down costs as well as reach a pan India audience year-round. Gaddam Bharathi especially feels this to be true. He belongs to a handloom community that has been making Pochampally sarees for 100 years.
Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) is a special favorite with these sellers. FBA allows them to use Amazon’s world class fulfillment resources to enable fast, free delivery and expert customer service. “I am able to expand our reach through Amazon and its FBA service,” says Sushmita Singh from Naanjil. Inspired by a region formatively called Naanjilnaadu, today’s Nagarcovil in TamilNadu, the brand Naanjil makes unique home decor & accessories. Most eye-catching among them are their wooden toys and coconut fiber curios.
Priyadarshini, a government of Karnataka initiative and Loomworld, a TamilNadu government enterprise selling handloom sarees & bedsheets were both set up to provide employment to handloom weavers and implement welfare schemes. Their presence on Amazon has helped them expand their reach across India.
Arts, crafts and handlooms have been facing a challenge in the recent years to make their craft profitable enough to feed families and employees. Now because of their presence on Amazon, artisans can reach out to their customers directly, learn what they love and turn their passion into a livelihood.