From Darewala to Delhi: The Journey of our Women's Crafts
By Adreeta Chakrobarty and Snigdha Shahi (Core Team)
Last month, Asmat put up a stall at Tarang, the annual cultural fest of Lady Shri Ram College for Women. The booth was filled with beautiful products– bookmarks, tote bags, scrunchies– that the women of Darewala had so lovingly stitched and designed during the Summer and Winter Internship Programmes of 2018. Prior to the programme in Darewala, the Asmat team had collected scrap cloth and old clothes through various collection drives organized in different colleges in New Delhi in the spirit of sustainability and up-cycling.
These items were a result of the initiative to bring about the spirit of entrepreneurship amongst the women of the village, thereby inspiring within them a sense of sisterhood and community which would go hand in hand with the idea of financial independence.
What We Did at Tarang 2019, LSR
Amidst all the administrative trials and coordination, we couldn't be happier with the stall we set up! The charpaais or cots added a nice touch to our aim of giving our little nook a rural vibe and our hand-painted Asmat banner stood out uniquely, also a testament to our commitment to incorporating sustainability in each step of our journey by forgoing the flex banner route.
What Did We Learn?
It was extremely heartening to see the response that the women's talent garnered. They were thrilled when we conveyed the figures of the sales to them. We want to continue encouraging our women all across rural India as they excel in their personal and professional lives.
For us as an organization, the experience of setting up a stall and marketing the hand-work and hard work of our ladies was an important experience in a lot of ways.
Some major take-aways
The products which sold the most were the bookmarks and the scrunchies - they were small, cheap, pretty and unique to our stall in the fest.
Pricing is key - even if you're working on a social enterprise model without any commission involved for the organization. Products that were less than 100 rupees and had some utility sold out very quickly.
Personalising the products using producer profiles works in increasing sales, apart from legitimising the initiative and adding a high emotional value to the products.
Customer feedback is essential - we have been able to see many people around college using our products on a regular basis and have received good feedback from our customers after they have used the products.
Lessons for the Way Forward
Working on standardized designs, and better colours and quality of cloth is a priority from our end.
Better finishing of products is required and can be done by organising training workshops for the women in the village.
Most of the customers were people who were associated with Asmat in some way, or already knew about us through their friends. Hence, spreading awareness about our work might help increase sales from untapped market segments.