Leola Pais, a 72-year-old from Mumbai is not only reliving a long-forgotten hobby of hers, crocheting, but has taken it a step ahead by selling it. Thanks, to the website—Its Hand Made. Acting as a bridge between sellers and buyers of handmade items, the initiative was started by Bangalore based Shreya Bajaj, a 23-year-old chartered accountant student. Today, the website has more than 200 sellers and a bunch of happy buyers.
A fan of flea markets and quirky things, always aspiring to do something on her own, Shreya chose an unknown path, a business that would help many creative hands carve their own careers and identities. Shreya is equally crazy about art and craft. “In an artistically populous country like ours, we felt the need to give sellers an identity without having to invest in websites and marketing tools. The dream was to give people a reason to create art as a means of livelihood,” says Shreya.
One can find accessories, clothing, crockery, chocolates, soaps, jewellery, chappals, candles, cards, toys, finger dolls and more; all exclusively handmade, funky and special.
“For me, the biggest motivation has always been the impact, reaching as many people as possible with the work you do, to make a difference,” adds Shreya, on being asked what inspired her to take up this project. Sellers here range from housewives to housemaids, from techies to students.
Namitha and Pallavi, students of Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore, spend their free time creating colourful, quirky items like waist coats and chappals, with unique designs inspired by trucks and autos in rural India. Their creations with the theme ‘Hamari Swadeshi Sawari’ have a wide market all over India. Besides getting a creative platform to experiment what they study, they also earn their pocket money from the website.
Swati, a Delhi-based journalist who took a break from her career, wanted to try quilling. When her friends found her creations attractive, she started selling them. Approached by Shreya, she set up a shop on this website. Now her ‘Quilkaari’ shop has become a hot-favourite with best-selling items.
Various such stories only underline how the website has changed lives across the country.
Distance and location do not matter to the sellers here. “The website has a good network; the courier people come to me to collect the items. I just have to design the item, pack it and wait for them. It’s the same wherever I am,” says Eesha, a Baroda-based designer who sells jewellery on this website.
Most of the creators here are versatile, and customise the items according to buyer’s requirements. Birthday cards, cakes and other items can be customised to your taste. “Here we can upload photographs on our own, write our own descriptions, and take the products off whenever we want to. The total control of our shop is in our hands,” says Eesha.
“I really admire their customer service. They take personal care from the time I order an item till it reaches me safely. They give importance to our feedback,” says Shubhashree Natarajan, a Bangalore-based buyer.
The business model
The website charges Rs 20 as rental to host an item for two months, and adds a fee of 10 per cent over the sale price. Shipping charges are added to the sale price. The website that was launched this February is making fast progress.
Shreya hopes to make the website vibrant, by introducing more features like pay-by-card and gift cards. “It’s as important as my identity. It’s more than business for me! It’s my attempt at redefining things and bringing in more creativity in everyday life,” she says poignantly.