In an attempt to keep the 'Vocal for Local' sentiment alive, it is no surprise to see several turning towards made in India products. However, with the pandemic gripping its icy grip around the country for the second time, it has become increasingly challenging for small and medium businesses to thrive in today's time. Mr Sunil, Founder and CEO of Indic Inspiration, has been lending his support towards artisans and their families with his startup. We spoke to him about his venture and his journey so far; here's what he had to say:
1) Can you walk us through your journey to coming up with Indic Inspirations?
After working in IT and creating tech startups, we were hoping to revive India's arts and crafts, out of which there are more than 3000. In 2014, Padmaja Jalihal and I started Heart for Art Trust to help India's artisans increase their livelihoods and help them get back their pride. "Humko Dhanda Dilao", they said. We worked to help 400+ artisans from 65 crafts around the country – touching 2-5 artisan families in each occupation – through an online store, consumer workshops with artisans and art and craft tours.
In 2019, with feedback from many and our own experience -- and to capitalise our efforts better, create a more substantial impact -- we set up Indic Inspirations.
As a for-profit venture, we've focused on presenting India's culture, heritage, traditions and achievements through Indic objects – well designed, packaged and exhibited.
Over the last year, we have created many new series and collections of products – that tell immersive stories – rendered through arts & crafts and engineered products.
2) What were the initial struggles that you came up with while setting it up?
Getting new products designed and manufactured by artisans, and convincing consumers and corporates that artisanal products are good, have a story and yet have up-to-date utilities has been the challenge. Most have got used to cheap Chinese, industrialised products. Decided last minute and customers and corporates want 100s of units of products in a short time.
Designing new products is our passion – presenting them with stories -- and reliable packaging is what we are good at doing. The opportunity and need are huge – getting the word out through smart-marketing and business development is the challenge. We plan to use a combination of new-age digital marketing and traditional distribution channels. Convincing consumers that good products and packaging is not cheap!
3) How does Indic Inspiration reach out to smaller, homegrown businesses across the country?
We work with all kinds of designers and artisans. We are constantly looking out for design talent amongst students, professional designers and amateur artists. We are continually looking out for new crafts – clusters and artisans who can render new products or have existing products of good design and quality. We also help them in the process. We touch 2-5 families of artisans per craft and work with them to get the business. We also work with mini-industrial scale setups to create the capacity.
4) Do you think the Vocal for Local initiative has changed the market for local artists and artisanal products?
The demand for India Pride and nostalgia-based products is definitely high. Consumers are conscious about and want eco-friendly products, use sustainable materials and processes and where artisans and craftspersons earn well through the purchase of the products.
There is a conscious effort by consumers where they move away from buying Chinese products and look for local alternatives (Made in India). So #VocalForLocal is working! However, it is crucial to sustaining it.
5) Where can we see Indic Inspirations in the coming future? Are there any new changes/features in the pipeline?
Indic Inspirations focuses on innovation in the kinds of product collections and objects. Every quarter we work on new collections and render them using interesting crafts and materials. Compilations around telling stories and creating souvenirs around India's cities, traditions of dance, achievements in science and technology around Life Sciences and our Space program are in the offing. One can render them through arts and crafts and engineered products.
New ways of doing attractive, stirring and sustainable packaging is another focus of the company. We are also leveraging technology around digital marketing, logistics and distribution. Post-covid getting our products to 5-star hotel and airport stores, tourist destinations and take them to the Indian diaspora & Indophiles around the world is part of the scaling plan!
We also work on helping create the eco-system for Culture Startups – much like the eco-system around Tech startups! We will rapidly grow and take part in the 1000s of crores that this opportunity is!