Rivaayat, an initiative by three 19-year-olds, aims to bridge the gap between traditional artisans and the online market
Twenty two-year-old Ghanshyam Prajapati from Moliya, Alwar in Rajasthan, laid his hands on clay for the first time when he was all of eight.
His elder brother, father and grandfather are all traditional terracotta potters. Day after day, while the women in the family prepare the sand for each pot, Ghanshyam and crew lend it shape and girth.
When public exhibitions, which were steady sources of income, came to a sudden halt owing to the pandemic, Ghanshyam and his family were hit by a slump.
But now, everything from water pots to decorative tea sets that adorn his collection are shipped across the globe thanks to three 19-year-olds and their start up, Rivaayat.
It all began with a social entrepreneurship project that three friends had to lead, as part of their curriculum at Sri Ram College of Commerce in Delhi. “When we were in the first year, we came across a lot of artisans near our college who used to sell pots on the road. Later, in an article we read more about Kumar Colony in Uttam Nagar and tried to understand the craft better. There are about 600 potter families in Uttam Nagar and that is where we started,” says Tania Agarwal, one of the co-directors of Rivaayat, which kicked off as an initiative in November, 2019. Along with Tania, Rohan Kohli and Akshit Gupta lead the team.
After many surveys, visits and trials to understand the artisans’ challenges, they decided to move forward with a platform that could bridge the gap between these potters and potential markets.
The team first identifies crafts and art forms that are struggling, then reaches out to clusters that practise those art forms. “Generally, in India, artforms are practised in clusters. We go on on-ground surveys to these communities to identify and map their problems,” explains Rohan.
He adds, “The basic framework we identified was to create a direct market linkage, be it through websites like Amazon or our own website. The next step was to introduce them to logistics and good packaging.”
Terracotta’s fragility makes packaging a major component of a successful business model.
So far, Rivaayat is working with 17 terracotta artisans in Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi. Products have been listed in over 20 online platforms, apart from their own website.
The trio and its team of 20 have now expanded to baskets woven using water hyacinth. The little known craft uses water reeds that aggravate water pollution to make utility baskets. “By employing a cluster of 35 women in Uttarakhand, and keeping in mind the environmental hazards the raw material poses, we are promoting this art form,” adds Tania.
The works can be purchased from rivaayathome.com