Entrepreneurs Aparna Phadke and Ketki Annachhatre share a lot in common — their undying love for Indian heritage and everything handmade. Together, they have been striving hard to keep Indian arts and handicrafts alive.
What started with an online natural clothing brand, Indo Mood, took the form of India Imprints, a handicrafts store-cum-art gallery on Prabhat Road, that celebrates Indian weaves, embroideries, jewellery, handmade skincare and beauty products and so on.
According to Phadke and Annachhatre, through India Imprints, they aim to preserve the Indian culture and provide a broader canvas to local and rural artisans to work on. The store conducts exhibitions, workshops and pop-up shows to which the weavers, textile revivalists, artisans are invited so that they can find customers for their craft and also educate people about ancient dying art forms.
On November 3 and 4, India Imprints, under its new initiative Gramin Imprints that aims at empowering rural art forms and crafts, is conducting a workshop and art show on Suf embroidery. This is a popular stitching technique of Kutch, Gujarat and Pakistan.
All that’s natural
Phadke, who insists that we call the natural-made clothing and jewellery available at the store ‘wearable art’, says that the idea of creating the art house was born while they were researching on natural dyeing and natural clothes for Indo Mood.
“Apart from our customers, even we wanted to expand and set up our own physical store. The store doesn’t only house our label. We also have clothes, studio pottery items, skincare products, jewellery etc by other artists who create handmade products using natural ingredients. We want to promote sustainable fashion and art,” she adds.
Within a short span of time, India Imprints has become one of the most popular art houses/ handicraft stores in the city and attracts local and foreigners alike. The store also has an exclusive corner turned into a library with books on the culture and history of India.
Says Phadke, “We wanted to make India Imprints more interactive and interesting. Hence apart from artefacts, we have a collection of books on Indian music, food, history, culture, artists. We also have an audio-visual screen, giving people a peek into art forms, so that customers can understand its philosophy and soul.”
One of the highlights is the saree with imprints of the Mahabharat on it. “We have sarees depicting the important episodes from the Mahabharat and the Ramayan in Kalamkari style. Besides, there are also a few pieces with Panchatantra tales. We are striving at creating more wearable and usable art pieces for Ajrakh block printing and Gond paintings,” adds Phadke.
Art under one roof
India Imprints is also trying to revive dying art forms and infuse a new life in them. Annachhatre, says that the idea of starting India imprints was to stock Indian art under one roof. “Jo kala abhi nasht horahi hain, humen unhe bachana hai (We want to protect our arts from extinction). There are different types of hand block printing and embroideries etc which need serious attention,” she says.
There is no dearth of art galleries or handicraft stores in the city, so what makes India Imprints different from others? Answers Annachhatre, “Our concept and store are totally different because we directly and closely work with Indian artists. Even our products are different. We give ideas to the artists, suggest colour combinations, in fact, we even give them our own blocks for different block printing such as dabu and bagru.”
The store is run by two women, hence their motto is also to support women artisans. “Our government plays a role in women empowerment, in our small ways, we too support creative women who need a platform to showcase their skills,” adds Annachhatre
She further says that the main purpose of their store is to give unique and high quality stuff to its customers and create livelihood opportunities for the artisans. “Our future plan is to do extensive research and bring more Indian arts to our store and give rojgar (employment) to as many karigars as possible. We are also planning to get into franchisee model and pass on this responsibility to art-loving people,” explains Annachhatre.