In both International and national market, awareness of organic clothing is increasing. People are fast switching to natural fibers and organic dyes for fresh feel and healthy skin and these products can be carried in comfort. Although many entrepreneurs are already realizing this goal, this story is of Simontini das, how she is tackling the issue in her unique way by her startup in Textiles sector: Handmadely-Be swadeshi.
About the company:
Handmadely-Be Swadeshi is a social venture which is mainly empowering the rural artisans and weavers by selling their produce to a wider audience by eliminating the middle-men. They deal with handloom clothing which includes silk, cotton and khadi; bamboo handicrafts, jute and cotton products. Apart from clothing, other offerings of Handmadely include notebooks, diaries and similar kind of hand decorated materials, all created by rural artisans of Bengal and North-east India.
They are planning to operate in both brick and mortar model as well as online store. Currently they are operational through Facebook but launching their own website in coming days.
Do you Know:
Muga Silk, which is a GI tag silk produced in Assam, is famous for outliving the life of wearer.
Problem prevailing in society
- Difficulty in sustainability of weavers: Compensation/wages which weavers get is very less compared to market value of the products they produce. They have very limited access to customer base in local areas. Middle men often earns all the profit margin and passes very little benefit to them.
- Authenticity of clothes: Many small scale industries and online platforms claim to sell hand-loom and organic clothes, but their authenticity is in question. Customers cannot differentiate whether cloth has been machine made or hand-loomed.
- Health deterioration due to Chemical dyes: Synthetic dyes used in clothes release toxins which are being absorbed by our body slowly. Also, many skin allergies and infections are result of chemical bleach used in clothes.
Simontini strongly believes that “chemicals are for laundry and not for the skin.
- Assurance of Purity: All of their products comes with a “Symbol Of Purity” tag, which is issued by Government of India, and is difficult to duplicate. This ensures that product which customer is buying is 100% pure.
- Supporting Aanganwadi workers: Since, all products are made by rural and craftspeople only, this initiative promotes the livelihood of Aanganwadi workers. Handmadely is providing compensation to workers which is thrice of what they get normally, there by giving better incentive to workers.
- Safe Skin: Through their venture, they are promoting “safe skin” clothing as their products are free from harsh chemicals and are prepared using vegetable dyes and organic colors which is skin safe.
Inspiration behind the idea:
Inspiration behind Simon’s idea is her family’s close proximity to the weavers and the artisans community. From her early growing years, she is familiar with the hardships a weaver’s family goes through especially in rural areas. Also, during her corporate career Simontini has headed many CSR initiatives which in some ways strengthened her resolve to do something for the poor artisans. She was more focused on seeing how she can support the livelihoods of these rural producers.
Journey from Idea to Implementation:
Her team has spent a lot of time in conducting awareness sessions amongst the weavers/artisans community and educating them about the initiatives. She has successfully implemented pilot stages and now she has paying customers both national and international. Her products are being widely liked by everyone as they are at affordable rates and are free from harsh chemicals and dyes.
From customers point of view, creating brand awareness is one of the challenges, Simontini has encountered. For engaging rural artsians, interacting and understanding the complexities of working with the rural weavers was difficult and also to make them understand the concept of computers and online selling was a struggle.
High time in the Business
In early stage of business, just after launch they have started gaining positive reviews from customers and clients. One of their client, who resides in South Africa gave special feedback that they loved the products and are promoting Handmadely brand among friends and relatives.
Simontini Says that: “My venture was still in an ideation stage when I got selected in WEE(Women Empowerment and Entrepreneurship) in April 2017 batch. Because of the continuous mentoring provided by our mentors, I could move past the ideation to the implementation stage so soon.
IIT-Delhi WEE accelerator six month programme has helped her to refine raw business idea into a revenue earning model and has opened new horizons. With constant mentoring from Dr Sarandeep Singh and Aparna Saraogi, Simontini has now full fledged business which is bridging the gap between Rural India and Urban customers.
Simontini is down to earth person, past recruitment lead, present social entrepreneur who is looking for new options to promote rural masses of India.
She is always ready to help others and constantly looking for new ways to engage more people with her. She can be reached at facebook easily.