There’s something truly mystical about Patta Chitra art – one glance and you’re transported through time to a mythical world. It’s not just about the finished paintings of this traditional Odisha art form though, but more about how they’re made. Everything here is handmade – right from the paper itself that comes from crushed tamarind seeds to the paints which are conjured up from natural fruit and flower extracts mixed with powdered seashells. Everything including the Patta Chitra, Metal Work, Stone Carvings, Jute products, Silver Filigree and Terracotta vases, are unique in every aspect to Odisha. Despite all the uniqueness of the various handicrafts, trouble was brewing – supply exceeded demand. And the inevitable happened – the craftsmen began seeking employment in bigger cities in search of more profitable ways of earning a livelihood. Odisha’s traditional art industry was slowly going extinct.
“Local artisans no longer had to rely solely on local sales channels, but were now exposed to buyers across India instantly.”
1700km away from his home town in Bhubaneshwar, Biswajit Swain was working as an IT professional in Delhi, but the plight of the artisans in his home state wasn’t lost on him. He knew that if Odisha’s traditional art forms had to survive, they would need to find a market beyond the local exhibition stalls. He looked to e-commerce as the solution. Along with a team of his close contacts in Bhubaneshwar who travelled to various villages in Odisha and built a database of the products available, Biswajit started the Haastika online store on the Amazon Sellers platform in 2015. It started out as an on-demand business, with the Haastika team procuring, packaging and shipping products only once they received orders on Amazon. he says, “Local artisans no longer had to rely solely on local sales channels, but were now exposed to buyers across India instantly.”
For Odisha’s arts, the playing field had just been expanded beyond its physical boundaries and Haastika’s contribution was more than apparent. Through Haastika, Biswajit Swain has not only contributed heavily in saving Odisha’s traditional handicraft industry, but also generated employment for others. Haastika currently stocks an inventory of over 1000 products and the team has grown to 10 employees in the company’s home base in Bhubaneshwar, working hard day-in and day-out to bring the mesmerizing art of Odisha’s handicrafts to the world.