Saturday, September 3, 2016

Helping Bidri artisans reach wider markets

Source : The Hindu ..

Bidar-based couple assists them to adopt new designs and sell their ware online

Tech-savvy:Amarnath Shetkar and Channaveeramma Shetkar working on new designs.— Photo: Special Arrangement
Tech-savvy:Amarnath Shetkar and Channaveeramma Shetkar working on new designs.— Photo: Special Arrangement
A young couple in Bidar are combining their business with the welfare of traditional Bidri artisans, helping them adopt new designs and sell their ware online.

Amarnath Shetkar and Channaveeramma Shetkar have set up Curio38, a social business startup. They have invested their own funds to market handicrafts and train artisans. They approach traders to provide an assured market for existing products and create innovative designs for new products.

For his town

Mr. Shetkar, who joined the Ahmedabad-based Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India after an engineering degree, was associated with the Deshpande Foundation’s handicraft promotion programme for two years.

He returned to Bidar in 2014 as he wanted to “do something in the town he grew up”. He thought of a platform for online trade in Bidri handicrafts and founded the website

Ms. Channaveeramma’s skill has added to this venture. She has studied jewellery design in Manipal and England before joining a well-known brand as a merchandising manager. After her marriage to Mr. Shetkar this year, she moved to Bidar.

She uses traditional and contemporary design motifs to create new jewellery and accessories for men and women.

The response from artisans is surprisingly positive.

Tough start

Mr. Shetkar’s first few months were difficult. He had a hard time convincing artisans to sell their ware through his online venture. “Most of them are not educated and have had little exposure to technology. I had to sit with them and tell them about online sales of handicrafts. The relationship with artisans was built slowly, over several deals and cups of Irani chai!” he said. He now supplies to well-known clients such as Taj Khajana, Fabindia, Handicrafts India, and Desi Bazar.

“Empowering artisans is my first job. Selling handicrafts comes later,” said Mr. Shetkar, who wants to take Bidri to countries where it is unknown yet.

“The artisans easily adapt to new things when we demonstrate there is a demand for them and that creating them will be easier than routine items,” said Ms. Channaveeramma.

National award-winning master craftsmen Abdul Rauf and Majid Quadri are working with the Shetkars on new designs. They are now focusing on using Bidri for home furnishing and stationery.

“The opportunities for non-traditional usage of Bidri are endless,” Ms. Channaveeramma.

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