Business India Dec 2020 - Our Project -
Business India Dec 2020

Business India dec 2020

Business India Dec 2020

Business India dec 2020

Proper help to artisans can ensure that India's rich cultural heritage stays afloat

When the pandemic led to a complete lockdown, one sec­ tor that feared losing out for­
ever was the handicrafts one. Artisans felt that people would not considerbuy­ ing from them, as theirs was not con­sidered a priority sector. However, companies like Direct Create helped them overcome their fears and, though the demand for handicrafts isn't as high as it would otherwise have been, it has kept craftsmen busy.

Sustaining Art by Yeshi Seli for Business India


Key Points

"In November, one of the artisans associated with us got an order for making customised copper bottles for a client in Canada," elaborates Sheela Lunkad, who founded the company in 2015, Jaipur, along with her husband Rajeev. "Within 10 days, the consignment was made ready and shipped out. Every little order is helping these days." When they set up their company, they had got tS0 lakh funding from Rajast­han Venture Capitalist Fund (RVCF) in exchange for a 2 per cent stake.
Direct Create is a digital creative plat­form connecting craftsmen to a global network of designers and buyers to collaborate and co-create handcrafted products. "We set up this company as a collaborative, which works only in the handicrafts sector," says Sheela Lunkad.   "We have worked with 15,000 artisans across the country, out of which 2,500 are registered with us. We also have 1,500 designers reg­istered with us." The company recorded a
?20 crore turnover in the last financial year, she adds.
The company involves itself in ceramic, glass, textile, leather, wood, jewellery, stone and metal crafts. Both Sheela and Rajeev Lunkadhave stud­ied architecture. While Sheelamoved on to designing the interiors of fab India stores, Rajeev helped in the restoration of the Jal Mahal in Jaipur. After having worked with artisans in their respective workspace, the couple decided to set up a company that could encourage local craftsmen to get in touch with buyers.
"The most important thing for an artist is to stay connected with his art," explains Mohammad Tahir, a crafts­ man. "Covid had literally brought us on the road. However, after I got in touch with Direct Create, my prod­ucts became visible on a digital plat­form, as a result of which I am getting orders from within the country and even overseas."
"We are optimistic that things will pick up next year," Sheela adds. "Al the same time, we hope the youth of our country will learn to appreciate and patronise craftsmen. We began as a B2B company, but we are more a B2C unit now."
Preserving handicrafts
With many people working from home, Direct Create is hopeful that people would consider including tra­ditional crafts to do up their houses- ranging from bed linen to furniture. Last year (2019) was good for the com­pany, as it attended the Milan Design Fair and also put up a crafts exhibi­tion during the much talked about lsha Ambani wedding.
"We haven't given up, the vagaries of the pandemic notwith­ standing," affirms Sheela. "I have been attending webi­nars like ‘Sustainable financial models for museums and cul­tural spaces', organised by Ficci earlier this year, where one is in sync with ways to preserve handicrafts, which is so integral to our heritage".
Despite the odds the pandemic has created, companies like Direct Create are giving artisans across the country some hope for survival. Though no data is available on the number of artisans across India, a conservative estimate puts the number at 1.5 million, though it could be higher, considering that a lot of farmers and their families supple­ment their income by makinghandi­ crafts during the offseason.
A national census of handicrafts, undertaken by NCAER, reveals that the value of handicrafts last year was INR 26,213 crore. People across all seg­ments of society should consider buy­ ing from artisans when they venture out to shop. India has a rich cultural heritage and this is one way of ensur­ ing that it stays afloat!

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