Facing the Chinese onslaught in manufacturing is not only difficult, but to a great extent an impossible task. Big and small Indian companies have tried to deal with it, however, met a little or no success so far. A slew of Indian startups entrepreneurs have successfully tried to counter the Chinese issue with their innovation.
Ally Mathan, the founder of Areev around 4-years-ago, a company that made natural, handmade bath and skincare products. She also launched products without plastic packaging. The product used Channapatna wood as a packaging. It increased the cost of the product, but Ally hoped it would be cost effective in future considering the increasing demand.
“The beauty of Channapatna artisans is that their skills can be molded and refined to create not just toys but products that suit our needs,” she said.
Channapatna toy-making was a thriving business once. But it became an unviable business after the onslaught of cheaper Chinese variants. It created a livelihood threat for more than 1000 artisans who had no other option than this. Ally Mathan and a host of other designers and entrepreneurs took it as a challenge and came forward to help these artisans.
Designer Atul Johri has trained 12 artisans in lacquerware techniques based on Channapatna’s toy-makers skills. They now create lights, tableware, vases, towel racks and other artifacts. These artisans have now worked with Fabindia, top hotel chains, and T2 terminal at Kempegowda International airport.
Airport and textile companies in Tamil Nadu.Johri said that it is imperative to train them in corporate qualities like discipline, timely deliveries, quality control and low wastage production. “I am now setting up a design development facility called Tulsi Farm in Channapatna,” he added.
Asif Pasha was a victim of the trade lull in the past decade. Joining hands with Johri, the artisan now earns up to `2,000 per day instead of `700 that he got previously. Some contemporaries have also started their own production units after the training.
Another designer Nishi Chauhan has amalgamated Channapatna elements in her lamps which is exported abroad. Sumi Gupta has opened a dedicated Channapatna retail outlet. “The key is to raise awareness among the high networth and expat population in the area who have the capacity to spend,” she said. They have come as a God sent help when government has left them on mercy.
An NGO, Maya Organic, has trained 100 Channapatna artisans and has also helped them sell their products on online shopping portal Flipkart and Amazon. It helps them receive order from 14 counries such as USA, Australia, South Africa, France, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Poland, Singapore, Denmark and Thailand.