BENGALURU: Indian artisans and weavers, who have been fighting an uphill battle to conserve their traditions and livelihoods, are currently witnessing a sharp spike in sales, thanks to online platforms.
Adavi Srinivas, proprietor of Andhra Pradesh-based Adhilakshmi Toys, for instance, has turned to social media and newer distribution channels, including JioMart, to fuel his entrepreneurial dream. Online store fronts like JioMart’s craft melas have been instrumental in helping artisans and entrepreneurs like Srinivas to reach their traditional crafts to newer consumers across the country.
Similarly, Lavanya from Erode in Tamil Nadu has taken her earthy and spartan 100-year-old family-run store that sells yoga and meditation mats, woven from Darbhai and Sambu river grass, online to find new customers and scale up operations.
“People in my village returned from other cities after losing their jobs during the pandemic”, said Lavanya, a software engineer with 17 years of work experience, who quit her 9-to-5 job to take on the reins of the third-generation business. “This is when I decided to train male and female artisans to weave handloom towels and yoga and meditation mats. Their livelihood depends on this”.
To build a strong business, support the livelihood of weavers in her village and set an example to other women in her community, Lavanya launched her own website and started using social media and digital marketing platforms.
“I have high expectations from online marketplaces like JioMart where I recently listed my products, and have started getting orders”, she said.
Srinivas too, who quit his job of 18 years to start Adhilakshmi Toys in Dilsukh Nagar in Hyderabad in 2019, has raked in higher sales by tapping digital distribution channels, turning to Facebook ads and building a robust social media presence.
“Traditional artisans and weavers know little about digitalisation. It is crucial to bring their art to fore and support them. My aim is to promote wooden toys that are non-toxic, durable and sustainable”, said Srinivas, a seller on JioMart.
Apart from getting incremental orders from several online platforms, he is currently exporting toys too. Interestingly, a large chunk of his customers are in the age group of 40-50 years.
Another indigenous seller, who has started leveraging the power of digital to breathe life into a dying craft is Adhil. His century-old family-run business Channapatna Toys impacts several local artisans.
“Around 35 artisans work with me. While some have been working for more than 40 years, others are as old as 60 years”, he said.
“Online platforms have become a major source of livelihood for these artisans. These facilities were not available to my father and grandfather. But today, I can leverage the power of digital platforms to engage with audience with little investment and create a bigger impact. I want to scale up the business and make these distinctive Channapatna toys available to the world from India, in addition to preserving our magnificent handicraft heritage”, he added.