COVID-19 has created a new challenge for the already dwindling craft industry. With large companies putting huge orders on hold, artisans are getting no income for products already made. Women on Wings’ partner Okhai has taken the responsibility of bringing their products and stories to its loyal customer base. With success.
Creative solution for basket artisans
Now Okhai shows true social entrepreneurship by adding products to its webshop from other artisans than its own textiles clusters. Next to its own beautifully handmade garments and textile accessories, Okhai started adding baskets to its webshop from Sabai grass weavers. This group of 600 women artisans works with sustainable materials such as wild grass and bamboo, and converts them into laundry baskets, bread baskets, vegetable bags, etc.. In only four days, the group sold baskets worth 2 lakhs Rupees (2,400 euro) in prepaid orders through Okhai’s webshop. The money goes to the artisans directly, and the baskets will be delivered when transportation of non-essentials can be resumed.
Adding more clusters
Seeing the success, Okhai reached out to other crafts clusters and added to its webshop beautiful copper products made by copper clusters in Pune and facilitated by Studio Coppre, a social business that ensures livelihood for 240 artisans. Next to making copper products for the beauty of it, Studio Coppre also promotes the anti-microbial benefits of copper as a healthy metal. Infinitely recyclable without loss of properties, copper powers the modern world, from electricity generation to its delivery into people’s homes. It is also essential to life on earth, and a necessary part of daily diets. Any purchase will immediately contribute to sustaining artisans’ livelihoods.
Okhai’s international loyal customers
Okhai offers handcrafted apparel and lifestyle products created by rural artisans from across India. Okhai understands the rich culture and traditions that these rural communities are steeped in and translates this heritage into products by pairing traditional art with contemporary designs and modern processes. Okhai sells its products at its own stores, at exhibitions and mostly at its webshop which has a huge loyal customer base from around the world which now proofs to be a lifeline of many extra artisans. Okhai ships all products worldwide so it can accept orders from other countries than India.
India’s 200 million artisans
There are around 200 million artisans in India and currently most are unable to earn an income because exhibitions are closed due to COVID-19. There has been a 30% decrease in number of Indian artisans in the last thirty years, and this corona crisis could wipe out craft clusters. Many of Women on Wings’ partners are facing difficult times and look for alternative ways to earn some income, like making masks and other personal protection equipment. This way they not only generate income for their artisans, but also flight the battle against COVID-19.