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Lavanya Bahuguna


Neha Baheti Of ‘Indian Artizans’ Revives Indian Weaves With JWB!

  • JWB Post
  •  November 26, 2015


Do you love shopping online? We’re a fan. So what do you buy online – clothes, shoes, accessories, cosmetics? Tell me, do you dare buy art online? The answer for most of you is a big No. After all, it is a question of genuineness.

Jaipur’s Neha Baheti is an art-lover and co-owns an online store ‘Indian Artizans’. The brand sells various textile arts of India. Think pure Benarasi silk, Punjab’s Phulkari and Gujarat’s Patola embroidery – Indian Artizans has it all.

We indulged in a small-talk with Neha, asking about her colorful journey through the lanes of India.

JWB: As much as the name of your brand sounds interesting to us, we want to listen to interesting stories of its founders.

Neha: We are 3 Women Directors & Founders behind ‘Indian Artizans’. We’re relatives so working together isn’t a pile-on thing. Although we don’t stay together, our strong connectivity and similar beliefs for the brand keeps it going.

Soon after we finalized the idea, first thing we planned to do was to study Indian history and about various art-forms. This required ample amount of traveling, too. So each one of us pulled in Rs.  5,00,000 as our 1st investment in the business. With that money, we traveled from North to South and West to East. Our spouses accompanied us to remote places and tribal areas where solo-women travelers aren’t really welcome.

JWB: So basically, traveling found its whole new meaning while the business kept going.

Neha (laughs): Sort of! We didn’t take travel as work-work. We traveled to so many parts of India, most of them were extreme interiors, and enjoyed our stay among the locales. While we met so many artisans and their families, we made sure to experience local delicacies and home-cooked food.

JWB: We’re jealous. There are already many brands selling authentic Indian textile. Don’t you think you have got a harsh competition?

Neha: You can’t get pure silk under few thousands. Can you? A saree like that requires almost a year to get made. The handloom work in India is so undervalued that the fake ones don’t feel ashamed anymore producing copies. Fortunately, Indians living abroad understand the real worth. The market outside is pretty generous. Our client-base comprises of 60% NRIs, by the way.

JWB: Whoa! So according to you, there are stereotypes surrounding our country’s art.

Neha (nods): Most of us, while shopping, look for cheaper rates. What we don’t understand is, quality also melts down once the prices go down. Why do you think authentic Indian silk and embroideries are mostly exported, and the showrooms that sell here are no less than a 5-star? All this is because of the excellent quality and service they are providing us with.

JWB: Thought-provoking. Getting back to your travel-diaries, what did you notice about the artisans from various states?

Neha: This part is sad. Whomever we saw working was between their late seventies and nineties, because their kids have refused to continue the family weaving work. It was heart-breaking to see those old souls working so hard to make the ends meet. And in some way, it’s not their children’s fault. They are now switching to other jobs and are shifting to bigger cities. Do you know, there are only about 100 families left in Maharashtra who are currently weaving their trademark silk sarees! Our generation has stopped admiring these natural weaves, hence their business is slowly drowning.

JWB: What is the role of women in such families?

Neha: In most of the cases, women are the ones who sit on the loops weaving precious threads. Men take a back seat.

JWB: How do you think ‘Indian Artizans’ help improve their living condition?

Neha: We’re doing our bit. Our only policy is – don’t bargain with these artisans. This is our foremost business ethic. Also, we have adopted this one family that weaves Maheshwari silk. So whatever quantity it produces, we consume all of it.

JWB: Before we leave, here’s a spicy question. Do you, the 3 women Directors, have cat-fights often?

Neha (laughs): I am the youngest – and I respect both of them. We listen to one another and then draw conclusions. Ours is always a healthy discussion!

JWB: Psst.

How, do you think, will the art scenario in India change? Do you think the next generation of these heirloom businesses will ever reach the higher level? The need is for a major mindset change and the new energy to take Indian art to a new level.

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