So, one day the idea of starting something which amalgamates the skills of SHGs, NGOs and artisans with the aesthetic sense of the new generation designers cropped up. Anyone aware of the e-commerce scenario would say that it wasn’t the most novel of the ideas. So the question which now faced us was, “ what makes you different? “
At KalaGhar, we believe in the idea of “arteutil” i.e useful arts. We don’t want to push handicrafts into homes but want to create products which add values to the homes of our customers. Products with utility and culture.
We are located in the culturally rich state of Odisha. The state boasts of the oldest art forms in the country. Our effort is to revive the centuries old art forms like Pattachitra which is almost dying due to lack of artists. This art form is created from organic products starting from the patta (board) to the chittra(painting). Each painting takes almost 3 months to complete and requires absolute dedication.
Being born and brought up here we get the benefit of having a better understanding of the state’s culture and nuances. It also puts us in a stronger position to maintain a transparent feedback within our supply chain. With the course of time we have become very close to the artists and NGO’s we work with. We help them with developing the products at the basic level with our understanding of trends, new product ideas and the feasible process of bringing the products to life.
We have started making in-house designs for some products namely wall clocks, cushion covers, dhokra jewellery and studio pottery products. We are also curating beautiful products from artisans, SHGs and NGOs. Our designers work with the crafts and tweak it to make them more interesting.
Our special collection of premium Dhokra Rakhis will be launched in the coming month. These rakhisare made of brass also known as Pital in hindi, used for making religious articles and the technique is age old rich skill of Dhokra from the prehistoric civilisation of Harappa. Our designers have worked on it to give it a touch of heritage and luxury.
The most pressing challenge:
Most of the artisans and SHG’s were more than glad with the idea of working on new product ideas, but some of them were skeptical. As our core team members were all women, some NGOs thought we are not serious about the plan and will drop it with the first sign of problem. That reminds me of an incident; an NGO supervisor constantly missed our meetings thinking we will drop the idea. We made sure to visit his workshop whenever we were nearby. One fine day we caught hold of him and he said “ Madamaap log to sach mein serious hai”. It was funny; we celebrated his reaction over a cup of coffee. After so many stories of how tough it is to startup, we have made ourselves prepared that the ride is going to be difficult and we have to enjoy everything, even the problems.
We are planning to get into the international market in the near future. We are also exploring the options of working with architects and interior designers to create spaces inspired by Indian art . Our vision is to make the business sustainable enough to build an ecosystem that provides amenities like quality primary education and basic health services for the involved artisans and their families.