Radhika Gupta, Co Founder, Raaha, Powering Growth in the Artisan Economy
An entrepreneur and consultant with over a decade of experience in nurturing, leading, and sustainably scaling businesses.
Artisans in India have been getting some attention recently for their incredible work which has for long been lost. After industrialisation, artisans almost lost their livelihood and their work lost its value. But they are now gaining popularity with the increase in consumers’ interest in their products.
Raaha is one such organisation that was founded amidst the pandemic to help artisans reach their customers as the pandemic badly hit the supply-demand. TBCY features today the co-founder of Raaha, Radhika Gupta to have a conversation with us about this venture.
Radhika Gupta is the Co-Founder of Raaha which is powering growth in the artisan economy.
What is Raaha and what was the motivation to start it?
Radhika Gupta, with her years of experience in the fashion and retail industry, decided to start something where she could use her experience to empower artisans, especially women artisans across the country.
“I have always been very passionate about women empowerment, gender equity and equality and my background in fashion marketing and business led me to start Raaha”
Raaha started as a consulting company during the pandemic to assist and support the artisans to give them the exposure they needed, sell their products, and reach a global audience. Raaha has evolved now to offer a gifting platform to corporates to replace gifts with handmade crafts.
As you transitioned from Raaha 1.0 to Raaha 2.0, what have been some of your challenges and learnings?
Figuring out the supply chain model has been the biggest challenge for Raaha as it focused on sustainability. Some of these challenges include creating the products in a safe environment, packaging them and delivering those products in the Us to their clients and consumers. Transitioning to a gifting platform meant producing a large number of products in contrast to the slow process handicrafts are made keeping in mind the environment. That was a big challenge, says Radhika but she adds, “Every challenge thrown at you makes your business strategy stronger”. Radhika’s lesson is that she needs to be flexible in business. She advises that every entrepreneur should be open to make some changes as per the situation to grow the business.
Why do Indian artisans not get the right price for their work?
Talking about the unfair price at which Indian artisans usually sell their products, Radhika blames the long-established system of exploitation which happens because of the presence of middlemen who buy the products at cheap rates. Also, the artisans live in remote places due to which they are still relying on the middle man to reach the customers. The problem is that the cost hasn’t evolved over the years as the priority of the artisans still remains to get some sales, at whatever the price the manufacturers agree with.
According to Radhika, there also needs to be some progress in the packaging of the products as well as the work of artisans is viewed and valued by Indian consumers.
Radhika shares her knowledge about the problems artisans are facing, the gap in communication between the artisans and the fashion industry and a few things that can be improved to better build a brand for artisans. She shares an example of how Raaha has supported artisans in scaling up their sales during the second wave. Raaha put the products online and in a month, they were able to sell a decent number of sarees making a huge profit to that artisan shop.
Dive into the video to listen further about the way Raaha works, the results they bring, its mission and the role institutions can play to support artisans.
An entrepreneur and consultant with over a decade of experience in nurturing, leading, and sustainably scaling businesses. Radhika has worked with over 2000 creative entrepreneurs and direct to consumer brands in fashion & lifestyle that are advocates for creativity, sustainability and innovation in the profit and non-profit sector through her past venture- Black Taxi Creative Concepts where she spearheaded business growth and marketing.
Her journey with handmade started while attending fashion schools in India, New York and London. Learning how to market design & luxury businesses, she soon realised that the distance between the consumer and the artisans was a long road which needed narrowing down. She believes that ‘Bringing all stakeholders in the artisan ecosystem together is not always the same thing as bringing them closer, and the latter is what we need to focus on.’
Radhika is passionate about working with brands and enterprises that are driven by purpose. She loves connecting people & creating meaningful partnerships. Her love for handmade and artisan made products & my drive to create opportunities that provide sustainable livelihoods for women in local creative economies is what led her to start Raaha- a women-led company powering growth in the artisan economy by facilitating digital access to handmade, for today’s conscious global consumers. We work together with social enterprises and artisan communities to bring beautiful, environmentally positive gifts and immersive cultural experiences to you. She is also an advocate for gender equality and climate action & actively engages as a volunteer with nonprofits that are leading these conversations.
We are a women-led company powering growth in the artisan economy by facilitating digital access to handmade, for today’s conscious global consumers.
We work together with social enterprises and artisan communities to bring beautiful, environmentally positive gifts and immersive cultural experiences to you.
We have 3 product pillars: (We are launching Gift this month)
Gift: Our curated gifting platform offers the most mindfully made products corporate gifting options companies.With the rise in conscious and mindful buying habits, handmade products offer a unique advantage because they have a lower carbon footprint, are ethically made and provide economic opportunities.
Learn: We curate immersive learning experiences for global audiences to engage with craft communities and artisans who are preserving age old craft forms. These workshops are great for Team Building and engagement, Students, Craft Enthusiasts, Cultural groups and anyone who wants to start their journey as an advocate for artisans. We care about building awareness around indigenous and folk craft, preserving cultural knowledge and creating a global community of advocates by using the power of education and creating home based income opportunities for women artisans
Consult : Our goal is to bring sustainable revenue for artisan communities, and make it easier for global businesses to collaborate and transition towards an inclusive future. Our services include: Ethical sourcing and production, Brand storytelling, Outsourced Curation
Our Not for profit initiative ( Covid Response)
The Artisan Shop: Total sales made: $8,000 in 90 days in 6 countries
The Artisan Shop is a Covid relief effort + Not-for-profit initiative by Raaha + Ka-sha + Loom & Hand. A movement of collective action to support our Weavers + Artisans by giving access to global consumers to buy directly from the makers. The artisan economy is severely impacted by the shutdowns as a result of the second wave of Covid-19 in India. After reaching out to 250+ artisan families through a ration drive we asked the artisans how we could continue to support them and their response was ‘We need to sell’.
We identified 18 artisans and uploaded 500+ Handloom products they have in stock. All prices are decided by the artisans and 100% of that goes back to them.