Crafting culture

Poorna Kulkarni
Sunday, 18 August 2019

Sanskriitii is an organisation that bridges the gap between artisans and corporates, and helps heritage artifacts find the right market

Artifacts have always been an integral part of Indian culture and heritage. But today, due to the lack of demand for such products, the production of these artifacts is at an all time low. Sanskriitii Crafts Studio, an entrepreneurial venture, true to its name, works as an interface between the artisans and large institutions such as corporates and hotels. This venture was started by Anil Tripathi and Lata Pathak with an intention of empowering Indian handicrafts and craftsmen. 

 “The journey of Sanskriitii started around one-and-a-half years ago and our vision was very clear. Our focus was on providing a market for these beautiful crafts,” says Pathak, adding that before she started this venture, she handled the CSR mandate of a corporate firm which saw her working closely with artisans on the grassroot level. 

She adds, “I noticed how these talented artisans had the skills to make such beautiful artifacts. These skills have been passed on through several generations, but now the process seems to have stopped because there is very little visibility and demand for these artifacts among the masses. With limited idea of the market, many of these artisans migrate from their hometowns for livelihood. We wanted to solve the problem and this is where Sanskriitii was born.”

Interfacing and challenges 
In order to put the artworks of the artisans in the forefront, it was important to understand the problems they faced. Says Pathak, “Since there was no demand, it was difficult to find a market and take the artisans’ products to the right buyers. Giving monetary support to the artisans for raw materials was also a problem. Further, these artisans follow the old designs, being used for generations, as they have no exposure to come up with new designs. To bridge this gap, we spoke to large corporates and hotels to understand their needs. After much brainstorming, we educated the artisans on new designs. Our role at Sanskriitii starts from here, we buy the raw materials for the entire order so that the burden doesn’t come on these artisans.”

Acting as an interface between the craftsmen and the buyers isn’t an easy job. The most challenging part is combining the artisans’ work into the requirements  of the clients. Pathak says, “We all are aware that these artisans belong to the tribal regions and are a close knit community with very less exposure to the outside world. They don’t easily trust people and so it was difficult to make them understand the value of their work, and how it can be promoted in the real market to improve their standard of living. It took a while for us to convince them that they can earn a decent livelihood from the art and they can make from their homes.”

She adds that once there was a bulk of order, it resulted in  good income for the artisans and that improved their standard of living. “This resulted in a strong confidence and trust which was visible in their eyes. Now we are proud to say that we have several families that have teamed up exclusively with us,” she says. 

The right market 
In Pathak’s words, the decision to start up a venture like this wasn’t made in a day. A lot of market research went in before setting up Sanskriitii. She says, “We did market research for décor products and the booming gifting industry. Our previous work experience came handy in our research. We could figure out that we can create a market for these products not just in the gifting segment, but across different segments like the hospitality, home décor and so on. Essentially, we wanted to educate people about these crafts to carry on the glorious heritage for future generations.” 

She also states that pitching ideas to corporates was also a challenge, given that China-made products were easily available at cheaper rates. “It was important to create awareness and sensitise them about the talent and skills of the artisans, how handmade products are more elegant than the machine-made ones, how we can help the artisans, and the value these artifacts carry when given as gifts,” Pathak says and adds that the future for these artifacts looks promising as many people are now rediscovering them in the form of gift, home decor or even using them as utilities.

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