In working to revive and share the richness of our craft traditions, we offer our partner members with resources, tools, and access to our network. Partner members include artisans, NGOs (i.e., collective of artisans), businesses, education institutes, and key individuals such as designers and customers. We connect partner members to each other in a way that benefits the whole craft eco-system and is fair to all involved.
We are currently providing several services and are in the process of building out others. They include:
1) Marketing channels and support.
2) Product development and craft revival.
3) Micro-finance and raw material community banks.
4) Entrepreneurial training.
5) Fair trade awareness.
1) Marketing Channels and Support
Main partner members involved: Artisans, NGOs, businesses, individuals (customers, designers)
We provide fair trade marketing through various means: domestic and international exhibitions, e-commerce, retail outlets, corporate gifting, and cross sales.
- Domestic and international exhibitions: Live exhibitions of products foster interactive and direct connection between artisan and customer. It is one of the most effective ways to acquire loyal and inspired customers. Our most recent exhibition was in 2010 (see Closing the Gap: Live Interactive Exhibitions).
- E-commerce: We offer an online community that allows artisans to connect with a greater customer base. In turn, our e-store provides customers with greater access to a variety of rare craft forms, as well as faster delivery. Check out our e-store here.
- Retail outlets: As another form of distribution, we are in the process of establishing several retail stores throughout Gujarat that connect local craftsmen with customers on a regular basis.
- Corporate gifting: We will offer large corporations with the ability to make educated bulk purchases. Corporations can easily gift crafts to employees and clients as a way to celebrate and preserve cultural identity of our region. In turn, corporate gifting can be a powerful form of sustenance for artisans (i.e., one gifting can sustain an artisan for a whole year).
- Cross sales: As we are connecting several players within the craft eco-system, we will foster easy sourcing within the community. Specialized artisans can reach out to fellow specialized artisans for direct purchasing through our platform. This will encourage more streamlined cross-sales and avoid continual price hikes from middlemen. Similarly, designers will be able to source materials and semi-finished products directly from artisans.
2) Product Development and Craft Revival
Main partner members involved: artisans, NGOs, designers.
We will provide assistance with product development of crafts, including design and production, by connecting artisans with the relevant resources and experts (i.e., designers).
- Partner with design institutes to hold design workshops for artisans.
- Set best practices for fair and equal business partnerships between artisans and designers.
- Assist artisans in designing packaging for their products.
- Provide new technology resources and upgrades for artisans.
- Organize skill training workshops for new technologies (to match competitors and differentiate handwork).
- Assist in identifying ways to streamline their production chain.
Craft Village: A Vision for Craft Design and Production
In order to assist artisans with the design and production of their crafts, we have a vision to build Craft village in the next two years. Craft Village is an institute where artisans have the freedom to come together and experiment. Built on love, accountability and self-discipline, it will be an environment where artisans can problem solve, collaborate with designers, and have access to the newest technologies.
Craft Village will be primarily a home for craftsmen. Freelance designers and design educators will be invited to hold workshops and exchange skills and knowledge with craftsmen.
Our vision is to have craftsmen learn in their own language and then disseminate this knowledge to fellow artisans in rural areas who don’t have marketing and design resources.
This institute will primarily target a first and second generation artisans who are open and willing to learn and create. In sum, our vision includes:
- Design workshops & access to designers.
- Access to latest technologies & skills training.
- Entrepreneurship center for women.
- Meditation center
A central part of the Craftroot’s initiative is to find, research, and revive languishing crafts from Gujarati’s villages. We believe the extinction of our crafts results in a loss of our unique cultural identity. As an example, we are in the process of reviving “mashroo,” a unique fabric in which the outer layer is silk and the inner layer is cotton, from Patan, Gujarat.
- Travel to remote rural villages and identify languishing crafts.
- Spend time with and listen to artisans in order to deeply understand reasons for possible craft extinction (e.g., gaps in techniques, lack of customer base, social tensions between artisans etc.).
- Extend invitation into our Craftroot’s community and programming to work toward immediate revival and preservation.
3) Micro-finance and Raw Material Community Banks
Partner members involved: artisans, NGOs
- Organize cost management training workshops for artisans.
- Facilitate access to soft loans from local and regional banks.
- Provide access to Craftroot’s raw material community bank.
4) Entrepreneurial Training
Partner members involved: artisans, NGOs, businesses, education institutes
- Partner with businesses and education institutes to provide business training.
- Organize workshops in leadership, partnership building, as well as finance and accounting for artisans.
- Build entrepreneurial capacity among female artisans (see Craft Village).
5) Fair Trade Awareness
Main partner members involved: all
There is no official system in India that outlines the setting of fair wages for artisans involved in traditional crafts. As a result, most artisans sell their crafts at below market value, threatening their financial wellbeing and the preservation of their crafts.
At Craftroots, we meet International Fair Trade and domestic Craft Mark certification standards.
Fair Trade certification is an International product certification system designed to allow people to identify products that meet agreed environmental, labour and developmental standards. Overseen by a standard-setting body, Fairtrade International (FLO), and a certification body, FLO-CERT, the system involves independent auditing of producers to ensure the agreed standards are met.
Craft Mark certification is a certification issued by the All India Artisans and Craftworkers Welfare Association (AIACA). Craftmark developed to help protect India's unique craft processes by distinguishing them from processes used in the production of products in modern consumer markets. At a minimum, Craftmark certification prohibits child labor, and guarantees that hand-made aspect of the craft process used.
- Teach artisans and NGOs about the benefits of following Fair Trade policies and guide them on the certification process.
- Encourage master craftsmen to adopt Fair Trade policies with laborer and intermediate artisans as to prevent exploitation.
- Spread general awareness about Fair Trade in our network, especially among businesses doing corporate gifting and individual customers.
- Develop a certification process that encompasses Fair Trade policies (and other certification policies such as Craft Mark) as well as more specific standards which are relevant to the artisans we work with (e.g., guidelines for India that include fair wage calculations for each craft form).