Let’s celebrate Kutch culture! How this e-commerce platform employs artisans and showcases regional craftsmanship

India is known for its diverse history. Each part of the country has its own way of representing its culture creatively. Many families have dedicated their lives to perfecting an art form that took centuries to develop. Several generations have gradually brought their touch to these creations to remain faithful to modern times.

Year after year, the digital revolution is gaining momentum. Many different platforms have sprung up and are providing lucrative business opportunities for many small businesses that otherwise would not thrive in the current times.

The internet has been a boon to many arts and crafts products. The COVID-19 pandemic has proven catastrophic for local artisans. However, several entrepreneurs have become a beacon of hope by showcasing their products on a profitable platform. For artisans, their livelihood was in excellent and safe hands.

Kutchi Culture Celebration

The “Kutchi Bazaar” is a striking example. As the name suggests, it sells products made by local artisans from the Kutch region of Gujarat. From dresses to jewelry to shoes, each is made up of creations that playfully celebrate local culture. Some of the methods available on the platform are Ajrakh block printing, Bhujodi, Bandhani, Rogan art among others.

Dr Ismail Khatri and his son Sufiyan Khatri

Many of their popular products are made with ‘Ajrakh’ fabric. The block printing process is steeped in tradition as its history dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization. It is considered “durable” because it uses natural dyes like Rust Iron, Haldi, Henna, Indigo to color fabrics. It takes 16 days to manufacture the product, which involves coloring and block printing.

Ajrakh block printing

Ajrakh block printing

This art form has its roots in Sindh (now Pakistan). Several generations migrated to present-day Kutch before partition. The Khatri community of the region is known as the true guardians of this craft. Mr. Sufiyan Khatri is one of them. His father is Dr. Ismail Khatri, a renowned craftsman from Kutch. The family is based in Ajrakhpur, which Dr Khatri founded after the devastating Gujarat earthquake in 2001.

An interesting process

An interesting process

For Sufiyan Khatri, his childhood was spent making Ajrakh fabrics in the workshop. He learned the trade from his father when he was 14 years old. “Our family has been doing this for 10-11 generations since the 16th century. In 1634, the ruler of Kutch invited my ancestors from Sindh (now Pakistan) in the pre-partition era. The king was very fond of arts and handicrafts from different parts of the world. Apart from my ancestors, he even invited other expert craftsmen in Bandhani, Ajrakh and other handicrafts from Iran, Afghanistan and others,” he said. declared. The Logical Indian.

Inspired by his father and grandfather, Mohammed Siddiq Khatri, Sufiyan Khatri’s thought process has only evolved over the years. Learning all the basic skills at such a young age has helped him solve any problem that comes his way.

craftsmen at work

craftsmen at work

However, the road has not been easy. Dozens of artisans across the country have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sufiyan Khatri was also no exception. He tells his story: “Normally, we only start Ajrakh work after the monsoon season, and we buy the fabric between December and January. Likewise, we procured the necessary resources between Dec 2018 and Jan 21 worth 20-25 lakhs the companies had given their orders and we were working on them when the lockdown happened in 2020. So they got all have been cancelled.

The artisans’ livelihood depended on labor. So Khatri’s team decided to work without creating scarves, dupattas, etc.

Rise of the “Kutchi bazaar”

The idea behind ‘Kutchi Bazaar’ was born from Sufiyan Khatri’s meeting with a man named Juned Khatri. He was born and raised in Mumbai with his roots in the Kutch region. The renowned craftsman was a family friend who attended his brother’s wedding. “I met Sufiyan Khatri at my brother’s wedding. We met and started talking instantly. He told me about the plight of craftsmen during COVID-19. The whole craft fraternity has been affected. “didn’t have enough opportunities, they would change to other occupations which will eventually lead to the disappearance of this art form. This issue inspired me to help local artisans,” said Juned Khatri. The Logical Indian.

Ajrakh process

Ajrakh process

While Sufiyan Khatri brought his artistic prowess, Juned Khatri tested his technical skills. He quit his job and devoted himself to creating a platform to promote these art forms. He adds: “In January 2021, my brother and I reflected with Mr. Sufiyan Khatri. I created a website where we first introduced two crafts, Bandhani and Ajrakh. We already knew many famous artisans, and we asked them to showcase their creations on the platform and see how it is received.”

Co-founder Juned Khatri

Co-founder Juned Khatri

From the beginning of March 2021, ‘Kutchi Bazaar’ received its first order. After the initial response, the Khatris approached the small-scale artisans and gave them a lucrative platform for their products. Later, they got into the loom section. Their wares began to rise in prominence, from sarees and dupattas to beautiful dresses and leather shoes.

In no time, the e-commerce platform has become extremely popular. Several local artisans from the Kutch region approached the founders, who gave them a place to display their crafts for people to see and buy.

Working for the well-being of artisans

Recent times have seen an increase in the creation of digital art. Several companies rely on apps that can replicate complex designs in a jiffy. For them, it saves time and labor. However, this is detrimental to artisans who work hard to design in a certain period. In light of this, “Kutchi Bazaar” wants to uplift artisans and give them recognition. “In this competitive market, we artisans don’t get all the credit and benefits for all the hard work we do. With this platform, we want to give them the respect and recognition they fully deserve. “, jokes Sufiyan Khatri.

Looking to the future, Juned and Sufiyan Khatri want to keep working hard for the welfare of artisans. “Several large companies exploit the resources provided by artisans, and they do not receive their due. With ‘Kutchi Bazaar’, we want to preserve the authenticity of the work of art and give the community the respect and credit that are due to him,” added Juned Khatri. The Logical Indian.

Along with this, tapping into the international market is a goal they want to achieve. Therefore, “Kutchi Bazaar” intends to showcase all kinds of arts and crafts from the region and put the name of Kutch on the world map.

Also Read: Vision for Digital India! This company helps MSMEs digitize inventory for cross-border wholesale

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