With huge stocks having piled up during the lockdown, 25 organisations working with handmade products, especially clothes, home furnishings, masks, bags and stoles, have come together to form the India Handmade collective. Since offline sales is yet to return to normal levels, they have now taken to promoting the products online though the India Hand Made Collective (IHMC).
Suresh Lakshmipathy, Co-founder, Tula and one of the brains behind the effort, said that the idea was to help farmers, weavers, spinners and dyers, who are all part of the cotton value chain and were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A lot of people kept producing during the pandemic not knowing what to do but they could not sell their stocks. So instead of individually starting websites, where visibility would not be much, we started this common platform for some 25 brands. And as people who run the backend operations, we don’t make a profit but only take salaries from the sales,” he said.
It has been only a short while since www.indiahandmadecollective.com was soft launched but it is doing quite well in terms of selling kurthis, sarees and home furnishings. Malini Kumar, one of the partners of IHMC, said that individual brands or societies only managed the delivery part.
“We are not into logistics. However, from the customer point of view they will get updates about delivery and for now, deliveries are happening between two and five days,” she said.
Biome Conscious Fashion, Blue Lotus, Cotton Racks, Gandhigram Khadi and VIPC Trust, Magan Khadi, MG Gramodyog Sewa Sansthan, MoralFibre, Nature Alley, Porgai Artisans Association, Soot, Trinjan, and WeaverBird are some of the brands that the platform supports for now.
Uma Prajapathy of Auroville’s Upasana, which is also part of IHMC, said that before June they thought Upasana would close down and this was despite producing masks. “We could not pay our staff even half their dues as salary. However, now online sales is helping and we are seeing our market reviving,” she said.
Swaminathan Vaithyalingam is the founder of the Kaskom brand that produces mundu, thorthu, stoles, honey comb cotton towels and plain Kora fabric made by farmers in Kurinjipadi, Batlagundu and Kannur. He said that during the pandemic, many weavers did not even have food. “More than work, we had to arrange for food. We reached out to friends and gave small amounts to families to sustain themselves. Now we are reaching out to friends who are buying and the situation has improved. We have learnt that numbers are strength and this effort by IHMC is one of those,” he said.
The IHMC, which is currently 25 brands strong, is still expanding and more people are being brought on board, said Ananthu, co-founder, Tula.
First published by The Hindu on 22 Nov. 2020