In the laid village of Pochampally, in Andhra Pradesh, which is home to many weaver families, Bhaskar, like many had left behind his family business of weaving to pursue a corporate job in the city. Life was going on as usual for him, but he soon found it hard to ignore his father’s concern for the family business which was dwindling day by day. This was when he decided that he needs to go back home and help his father. Little did he know that this decision would change his life forever! “That I would be able to change lives of people in a community and help keep alive the ancient weaving style of Ikkat is something I had never imagined. I entered to help my father, I ended up helping so many people and that makes thus journey so fulfilling,” says Bhaskar.
Ikkat – it’s a print adored in the world of art, worn by those who appreciate craft and made by the most skilled artisans of India. Ikkat is a widely known dyeing technique – used largely by the fashion industry; this print is used on rugs, sarees, cushions and home living, traditional Indian wear and the like. And it this weave that Bhaskar, the owner of Chandana Ikkat weave brought back to life in his village Pochampally, Telangana.
The online journey
Bhaskar along with his brothers took charge of managing the weavers and their products. However, not long before he joined the business he realized he needed to bridge the gap between the retail industry and the manufacturers. But how and when was the question that he didn’t have an answer for. It was a regular day of business when he read about Amazon Karigar and the success stories it helped spawn. “That was when I knew I had to be on this platform. I knew we were losing out on weavers who weave this print for lack of traditional tools, to lack of skills, to low incomes. This was my chance to revive the art and make its presence in online market,” says Bhaskar.
Life before Amazon Karigar
Since Bhaskars’ family has been in this business for more than five decades, they had established a personal relationship with over 100 weavers. Explains Bhaskar, “While every weaver had their own set-up around their own homes, they were dependent for raw materials and guidance. Earlier, these weavers used the age-old tools to weave products, but now the tools were worn out and with no skills the children of these weavers were also looking for jobs outside of their community. With the average age-group of the weaving community being 50 years, the community wasn’t growing just enough to make the art survive. Online was just the fillip we needed.”
Online world changed the face of Ikkat
“Bringing our product online has been the best decision we have taken until date to keep this form alive,” says Bhaskar, adding,” The print has been in huge demand across all age-groups and the online market has allowed for the print to be more visible. It is wonderful to see youngsters in urban India carry bags, clothes and even have books in the Ikkat print. People are fully aware of what Ikkat print looks like and they use various colours that inspire us to make more prints.”
Speaking further on the sales, Bhaskar said, “Thanks to Amazon we have seen a 3x the growth in our sales from when we started in ____. It makes me happy to see the reviews on the site and when I share this with the weavers, they are motivated to do more as their art is finally being seen and appreciated by the Indian audience.”
The road ahead
With orders spiking and the art back in demand again, there is just one issue that he highlights: “Though youngsters are weaving now, they are shy of being called weavers. For this to change, technology and scientific tools need to be added into this process which will attract youngsters.” However, he ends on a positive note saying, “Amazon is helping us reach the end customer, which is very important for the manufacturer and it helped us grow fast – which means Ikkat grows too!”
And that is good news!