Meet Preethi Prabhu, an engineer-MBA grad, ex-IT pro, design blogger, who has found her calling. A venture which will work with crafts people who need the income the most and help them earn a livelihood. Meet, the Indya Kaleidoscope store.
I have followed her blog for a while now, and was delighted to see the passion for crafts find an avenue through this store. This post is best written in her own words (if you see me, I’ll be in italics).
Preethi: I researched Indian handicrafts for about two years and decided this is the space in which I wanted to do something. There are so many crafts people who need an income and are hard pressed for it. They just need someone to work with them, either give them product ideas and design, or source their products and take them to market. So I source mainly from artisans, NGOs, self help groups and other organizations working to preserve arts and crafts.
Photo frames from craftspersons in Banaras. They used to be ivory carvers by tradition, but now they have moved to carving wood. They are in dire economic circumstances so I have sourced a number of small and large frames from them.
Each little animal or figurine around the perimeter of the frame is first carved in wood, painted and then fixed. (Pic credit: Preethi Prabhu)
The Rajashthani pottery technique in jewel or masala boxes. The colourful boxes below are made of wood and painted by an artist who can paint on anything!
The black pottery is sourced from Manipur. I used to travel quite a bit in my pervious job. I still do, to meet the craftspeople and it gives me a sense of involvement when I meet and talk to them and see where they need assistance.
The painted belans are my favourite :).
When I buy vintage pieces, or old heirlooms, I try to get as much background info as possible about them. When we restore and resell we would like these to be in the homes of people who understand the history and know what they are worth. This room in the store is dedicated to used things. We will have old, used products here, antiques and some vintage pieces…
This medallion (in the center) was issued in 1918 to soldiers who fought in the first world war. I was so excited when I found it, but was also left wondering who may have given a family artifact like this away.
Wood bangles from Channapatna, ceramics from Rajasthan and vintage wood furniture.
Pottery from Pondicherry, just unpacked!
This moda (seat) is made of cotton and cotton fabric for a cover. (It is so colourful and doesn’t get crushed when you sit on it!)
If you look at the prices, many of the products are priced lower than what you will find in curio shops and most antique stores. I price them this way to make handicrafts affordable, and so that people become aware of pricing. One does not need huge profit margins to keep a venture like this sustainable.
I have been asked by folk who think the prices are quite low, why I don’t increase them. If I did, it would be like any other business venture, driven by profits and little else. I might as well have continued with my corporate job in that case. I want to create a meaningful model for myself and the people IK will work with. A beautiful stand with a mirror.
After paying a fair price for the products, if there is money left over between my budget and the marginal profit, then I plan to accumulate those savings and put it back into the community, for community projects, training, etc.
To complete the picture of a beautiful home, we have lots of green too, in the mini nursery.
I am hoping to start a few community projects as well. These kambhas from Daily Dump are meant to source waste from the houses on this street where IK is. Once the composting is done, one bag of compost will go back to each house where the waste comes from. They just have to use the kambhas regularly here at the store and we all get rich compost. Some of them are open to the idea, which is great!
Here is Preethi, in her lovely office. Someone who, at the end of an hour and half, inspired me so much! She works with RAPID (Rehabilitative Assistance for People in Distress) and the people who help at the store come from this org.
As I prepare to leave, there is a surprise guest. No wonder, for this house (it is more than a store) is everything warm and friendly :).
She was quite upset about something and refused to leave, looking kinda irritated, from left to right. I was near the staircase leading up to the terrace and tarried there awhile (!) to give the bovine creature some time to contemplate leaving. Gave me time to observe the lovely flowering tree just outside IK <grin>!
Product prices range from as low as Rs.50 to a few thousand for the larger pieces of furniture. So do visit, and make a difference. IK is located at:
12th A Main, 4th Cross, Koramangala 4th Block, Bangalore, India 560034.
Web store (you can order products online): http://indyakaleidoscope.com/store/