The Story of a Rural Artisan and His Toys. Meet Hariharan, a Handcrafted Toy Exporter From India
In the remote slums of Mumbai, the undistinguished localities of Delhi, and the remote villages of Gujarat and Rajasthan, small exporters are slowly but steadily driving an e-commerce revolution in the sector of handicrafts. India’s e-business story of handicrafts has largely centered on gigantic players like Flipkart, Amazon, Paytm, and Snapdeal. But a growing bunch of small players of Indian handicrafts is laying down an equally compelling, if not more audacious, growth track by pushing e-commerce exports globally. They cater the discerning customers abroad by listing their products on platforms like Craftezy, Amazon, and eBay. In this article, we will discuss at length a handcrafted toy exporter from India named Hariharan Mehta, who took the help of Craftezy to list his products online and is a highly successful exporter today.
Table of Contents
- Hariharan Mehta, a Rural Artisan from the District of Kheda, Gujarat
- The Covid Effect
- Launch of Craftezy
- Role of Platforms Like Craftezy in Growth of Artisans and Craftspeople of India
- How You Too Can Become a Successful Exporter of Handicrafts?
Hariharan Mehta, a Rural Artisan from the District of Kheda, Gujarat
Hariharan Mehta belongs to the rural area of Kheda, Gujarat. His forefathers have been in the business of producing handcrafted toys of different designs and shapes since the pre-independent era. He proudly recites anecdotes of his forefathers meeting kings and high ranked-officials of the Colonial era to present their exquisite pieces of art displaying intricate craftsmanship. He owns a small shop in the district of Kheda. The production of handcrafted toys is handled by him along with his father, Jayantilal Mehta, aged 63 years old. Before the arrival of the Covid pandemic, he used to sell his toys from his shop itself. Tourists that came to visit the nearby places bought toys from his shop and helped him earn his bread and butter. Sometimes, he attended trade fairs and trade shows conducted by different organizations in and out of the district of Kheda that helped him generate a substantial amount of income to support his family. Although Hariharan was able to win bread for his family daily, the revenue numbers of handcrafted toys were not sufficient to help him save for unforeseen circumstances.
The Covid Effect
In March 2020, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the lockdown was implemented by the government of India. Due to the pandemic, there was a huge uncertainty of how the markets will operate and what will be in the future. The market came to a halt, the stock market drastically fell and millions of artisans migrated back to their homes. Inventories were piled up, orders were either canceled or deferred, payments were pending and artisans like Hariharan faced an issue with cash flow to meet their ends. While interviewing Hariharan, we got to know that he had to desperately sell all his handcrafted toys at the lowest price to sustain his livelihood. There was no work left for him and he faced challenges to meet his family’s demands. Artisans like him were faced with the dilemma of what was more dangerous for their lives- not having economic opportunities to support their families or the novel coronavirus.
The Central and State governments tried their best to implement programs and incentives to protect the interest of various sections of society including the artisans and the craftspeople. Monetary support was provided by the Central government so that artisans could maintain their basic needs like food. The State governments that have a higher concentration of handicraft communities had been proactive with policy-making and driving support on the ground. Even after the lockdown was lifted, there was a lack of work due to less volume of orders. The tourism sector remained stagnant. Fear of Coronavirus had not gone from people’s minds. The drastic falling numbers of tourists severely affected the sales numbers of artisans. “Covid added to the already existing economic challenges faced by our family and various other families of craftspeople like us”, stated Mr. Mehta.
Launch of Craftezy
Craftezy was launched amid the Coronavirus pandemic. It is an online handicraft trade platform that helps local sellers like Hariharan and global buyers connect. The company works on a commission-based model where a user is charged a minimal fee for each transaction which enables suppliers and artisans from across the rural and urban parts of the country to join in and provide the best handicrafts with no additional cost.
Hariharan got to know about this platform from one of his friends who resides in Bhavnagar and has a similar business of handicrafts. He had registered himself on the platform and listed all the categories of handicrafts that he had in his stock by taking assistance from the team of Craftezy and had started to see his sales numbers increasing significantly within a few weeks. Hariharan was convinced and decided to register himself on the platform too. He was not a tech-savvy person and thus had to take help from his eldest son, Sagar. The supporting documents required during the process of registration have to be obtained first which took nearly 2-3 weeks. Once the registration process was complete, within 48 hours his products got listed. Craftezy’s team helped him refine his product catalogs and product descriptions. It took nearly a week before he got his first call from Craftezy for an order of educational toys placed by a buyer in bulk. The products were delivered by him on time and after a few days, he got paid through bank transfer.
“The user-friendly platform of Craftezy which came during the tough times of Coronavirus has become a boon for artisans like us”, reported Hariharan. Frequent orders are placed by the buyers worldwide and revenue numbers have gone significantly up. With the additional earnings that he has been able to generate, he is planning to expand his products segment. As John Adams rightly says, “Every problem is an opportunity in disguise”, the situation of Coronavirus that had once seemed to be a curse for Mr. Mehta turned out to be a blessing in disguise for him and his family, all thanks to the wonderful platform of Craftezy.
Role of Platforms Like Craftezy in Growth of Artisans and Craftspeople of India
Due to the unforeseen circumstances which had arisen because of the pandemic, artisans and exporters of handicrafts understood the significance of technological advancements. The power of e-commerce platforms like Craftezy was leveraged during the pandemic which helped artisans like Hariharan and various craft exporters and export houses to reach out to the consumers and sell handicrafts globally without any hassles. Traditional methods such as exhibitions, trade shows, and trade fairs are no longer the route available during these uncertain times.
One of the best ways to run a handicraft export business from India is by taking help from these e-commerce platforms. Craftezy, specifically, is a platform that only deals with handicraft products, thus, specializes in it. The company has been researching extensively starting from its formative years and talking with big contemporaries to know more about the roots of this industry. The company has built a niche where it focuses only on the handicraft sector and not any other verticals. Craftezy can provide better rates at scale without taking any commissions by partnering with third-party companies. The online trade platform handles everything starting from product discovery to sourcing, from negotiations to logistics, and is a one-stop solution for both the buyers and sellers of handicrafts. Craftezy is committed to providing a humble percentage of the revenue generated by them to help safeguard the culture and traditions of artisans and craftspeople and encourage more youngsters to take up their family’s trade and others to pursue careers that cater to the growth of the Indian handicraft industry.
How You Too Can Become a Successful Exporter of Handicrafts?
Exporting in itself is a very wide process. Proper research about the handicrafts, demand, and supply of the product that you want to export, competition from the global markets, and so on are certain factors that you must consider before entering this market. Consumers from across the globe have large discretionary income at their disposal to spend on. Authentic handicrafts of premium quality are what they look for. Thus, it becomes very important that the handicrafts that you procure or produce match according to the needs of the international buyers.
Bill Gates once quoted, “ If your business is not on the internet, then your business will be out of business”. You must take your exports business online. This can either be done by building your website or by taking the help of e-commerce platforms like Craftezy. Building your website involves a lot of hassles and can cost you quite a lot of money. Despite it, you cannot gain the visibility among the global buyers that Craftezy can provide you. Get discovered online with the help of Craftezy and increase your revenue and business growth, all at an affordable cost, just like Mr. Hariharan Mehta did.