Our country has always been known for its exemplary and unique handicrafts. Skilled in various crafts, Indian artisans are almost like chroniclers of the rich culture and tradition of this country. However, many of these traditional arts—mostly shared across generations—are slowly disappearing.
As a consequence of the pandemic, borders were closed down and shops, across the world, remained shuttered. These aftereffects heavily impacted the handicraft industries and the artisans, who are mostly daily-wage earners providing income and sustenance for their families. Many of these craftspersons also had to leave their family trade to seek more sustainable options. With the supply of the crafts exceeding demand and with no place to store the piling inventory, the items that crowded their homes turned into daily reminders of a certain sense of failure. This is when 21-year-old Manav Bhatia decided to take things into his own hands. Launching Trunkin’ in 2020 to help artisans, Bhatia began sourcing the extra stock accumulated by them in order to sell these goods for their benefit.
Lending a hand
Through word of mouth, Bhatia connected with artisans all around northern India and set-up a system to sell their excess inventory on his website, Trunkin’. The Navjeevan Vihar resident also collaborated with a number of e-commerce sites such as Amazon, Flipkart, and Meesho to trade these goods. Deriving the name from ‘left in a trunk’, Trunkin’ has a team of five who work with Bhatia to ensure that not only are the products sold top-notch but the artisans are also well compensated for it. “Many of the artisans told me that it was no use trying. They weren’t receiving any orders. I convinced them to give me their stocks as long as they were finished goods,” says Bhatia, a fourth-year law student from Sonipat’s OP Jindal Global University, who is juggling both the company and academic work.
A collaborative effort
Trunkin’ has currently partnered with over 500 artisans and designers from northern Indian states—Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Gujarat, and sells items made out of crafts such as brass work, pottery, lacquer work, and beading. The company now has a United States license, and also sells in Canada, at affordable prices starting from Rs 199.
After buying these products at a price from the artisans, Bhatia ensures that the revenue received after sale is pooled to provide welfare for their communities. On October 1, he partnered with Venu Eye Care to organise an eye camp for 150 craftspersons in Delhi. Bhatia says that his venture is profitable in more ways than one. “This is a start; I want to do so much more. I don’t consider it a business. It has given me values and a story to tell. The smiles on the faces of these people are what keep me going,” concludes Bhatia.
Extending support to craftspersons
Trunkin’, an initiative by Navjeevan Vihar resident Manav Bhatia, has partnered with over 500 artisans and designers from northern Indian states of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Gujarat.