In the making of each product there are many processes and often vast distances travelled by individual components of the product. Cotton might be grown in Andrah Pradesh, transported to Gujurat for cleaning and carding, spun in Bihar and woven again in Andrah Pradesh.
However production processes in crafts typically have a very low carbon footprint compared to mass produced products. Lack of access to materials and low financial means make crafts people incredibly resourceful at using locally sourced, natural and organic materials where ever possible.
The uniqueness of India’s crafts people is their ability to work across religions, castes and cultural divides. This has fostered extraordinary creativity and cross cultural influences on the final products. We have bought silks in Gujurat with traditional Egyptian motifs often used in Art Deco European materials for example.
The crafts families who make for Kairaasi live in many parts of India from Gujurat to Tamil Nadu, Himachel Pradesh to Andrah Pradesh, Bihar to Rajasthan. Slowly we are bringing together a community of artisans we plan to work with for many years. Their capacity for development and innovation is huge and their hunger to make products for the global market is limited only by a difference of taste and a difficulty accessing the systems which can make that access possible.
Through visiting the artisan families and placing regular orders we are developing working relationships with them. As we spread the passion and appreciation for their products to new markets our sales grow and the number of makers we collaborate with slowly grows too.
Our role is to increase demand, develop quality, adapt their designs to suit the global marketplace. To help crafts people to create systems for banking and exporting to enable them both with us and independently to access that vast market waiting for their beautiful products. In time this will break the cycle of being poorly paid, poorly educated and therefore marginalised.
The global market for handmade products is worth $600 Billion. Currently India has only 2% of the market share despite having some of the most skilled makers and most beautiful objets d’art to be found!
In 2003 a study estimated that 50% of the heads of craft households had no education and 90% of the women in craft households had no education. With better pay craft families will be able to access education.
In time, as Kairaasi generates income, we aim to invest in a community health scheme which our crafts people and other workers can join at low cost. Paying for health care is a major cause of debt or poor accessing of health services.
Many of these arts and crafts will become rare over the next two decades. When the current makers retire there are very few young people choosing to follow in their footsteps. We hope, with our customers, that we can help develop a recognition in the young that these skills are precious and well respected by many around the world. This sense of respect and appreciation together with fair pay can enable a life of dignity and comfort and may inspire many more of the younger generation to take up the family craft.
If you are a crafts person in India or a company wanting to import Indian craft products please get in touch, we may be able to help you.