The makers of Indian handicraft are known for their perfection of craftsmanship, excellence of design and an unsurpassed sense of colour. But sadly, due to the lack of economic opportunities artisans are being forced to choose alternate career options and they have to let go off their age old craft heritage that they inherited from their ancestors.
Twenty-six year old Parkal Suhas Kamath started with simple well-defined mission to empower small and medium size entrepreneurs and NGOs dealing with the Indian handicrafts.
He and his team founded UnWrapIndia.com in March 2011, backed by a Singapore-based angel investor. His idea was to create a robust and lucid e-platform where artisans and consumers could do hassle-free trading. Suhas mentions that while the novelty and ingenuity of Indian art and craft is globally recognized, urban India is still blinded by the shine of foreign brands and products. Today, this brand has brought together over 250 artisans selling over 8,000 products on the platform.
Parkal Suhas Kamath, say that the idea cropped up when our CEO picked up a Ganesha’s idol for his sister’s house-warming ceremony and realized that the idol was Made in China, this point got us moving and a week later when our CEO was traveling in an auto rickshaw after conversation with the driver it was known that the left his old profession and was driving rickshaw just to earn some money for himself. After visiting many exhibitions and peoples we can to know that there is potential in reviving the traditional professional and then we started working on the platform.
Post ideation, Suhas’s first target was to build a user-friendly website. The brand is shipping 2,500 orders every month and is scaling up at about 20 percent month-on-month. Suhas is hoping to bring artisans who are losing at readily available assembly line products back to business.
”The relation with suppliers is improving over a period of time. We make then understand that we are here to make sure that even they will grow. We inform them about exhibition, educate them on products which can be produced, we recommend them designs, explain them about e-commerce, its importance, how to make e-commerce friendlier products and aesthetically good products so that people can buy those products, Suhas added.
Suhas explains how educating workers about e-commerce has a two-fold advantage. While the website helps artisans and entrepreneurs to worry less about marketing and focus more on the production aspect of the art, consumers in the urban areas on the other hand get easy access to handicraft from the length and breadth of India. With a price range of Rs 50-Rs 24,000, UnWrapIndia has helped successfully convert over 25 part-time artisans to fulltime artisans. Having already reached the four major metros, this 25 member team is now shifting focus to tier 1 and tier 2 cities.
“Our future plan is to target different states, set up hubs, bring artisans together and get as many unique products as possible. We saw that unique products priced reasonably sell exceptionally well on our platform. So, the more we can procure, the more we can sell and it will generate a lot of employment and we don’t even know what these different states are popular for, we want to bring that to the platform and bring those different products and give a very Indianised feel to that,” says Suhas.
With the target in sight, Suhas is all set for game, set and match. Apart from providing artisans an online market place UnWrapIndia is also keen to rebuild an artisan network connecting rural artisans and entrepreneurs pan India. Using the brand India tag to his advantage Suhas hopes to breakeven in May 2013.