India’s dominance in the centuries-old textile trade, for long the preserve of small cottage industries and village artisans, can be sustained by the efforts of emerging new talent in this space and the creativity of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) engaged in this sector.
At a high-powered panel discussion organised by Network18 and Bandhan Bank, as part of a thought leadership platform called Sashakt India: Powering the MSME Engine, two icons from the textile industry discussed the sector’s role in reviving India’s economic growth and the opportunities it offered for export and trade. Speakers at this thought leadership included Lavanya Nalli, vice-chairperson, Nalli Sarees and N.K. Chaudhary, founder of Jaipur Rugs.
Weavers, not retailers
According to Nalli, her 95-year-old family business, Nalli Sarees, has its background in weaving and not trade or retail, making merchandise and business relationships the key to its success.
She said principal macro-economic challenges like a scarcity mindset after the two World Wars, followed by low growth in the 1960s and 1970s and the flooding of Chinese silk and arrival of tested zari in the 1990s, were tided over by strong family leadership.
Innovation is the key
In what can be a template for MSMEs, Nalli believes every new innovative product or solution in an industry must be met squarely. ``You can either approach it as an opportunity and as a creative entrepreneur I can use it to elevate my art, or look upon it as a threat,” she pointed out.
Chaudhary, who began life selling shoes and turned down an offer to work in a public sector bank because the entrepreneurial bug bit him, borrowed a small sum of money from his father and started making carpets at home.
Knowledge of the market
How did he realise there was a market for carpets? ``There was a huge demand for carpets at home and there were not too many weavers in India,” he explains.
It helped that Mr. Chaudhary, who started as a contract manufacturer, had inside knowledge of the business. ``I loved weaving, so it was not a problem to find the right buyers. I could produce both large-scale quantity and quality,” he pointed out, adding that one of his daughters, Kavita, who studied at the Arts School Chicago, joined the business and offered designs that have elevated Jaipur Rugs to another level.
Consumers seek authenticity
Chaudhary observed that, globally, consumers seek authenticity and technology is the key. It is important that MSMEs connect with the different silos in the carpet industry, including the end consumer. ``It is also up to the MSMEs to help the 31.4 lakh artisan households upgrade,” he stated.
The session was moderated by CNBC-TV18’s Executive Editor Latha Venkatesh.This is a partnered post.