Published: 06th June 2020
The pretty and quaint products offered by Folkmate are hand-made by Odisha's artisans. Check them out
Their mini dolls, especially their pasapalli dolls inspired by the handlooms of Odisha, reflect the stories and culture of Odisha and are a particular hit. They get as many as 500 orders per month
Often, artisans struggle to make art that is utility-driven. Shiny Khuntia saw this setback as an opportunity to help the artisans and give back to her own state as well. So convinced was she of this idea that after pursuing her MBA from Medi-Caps University, Indore, she came right back to her hometown Cuttack and started Folkmate in the year 2017. "Artisans are extremely skilled but the market demands might not always align with what they make. So, I wanted to help make their products more market-friendly," says the 27-year-old.
Shiny Khuntia | (Pic: Folkmate)
Shiny visited artisans in Raghurajpur and those who engrave on palm leaves in Balipatna to check out how they work. That's when she decided to organise a design development programme for the artisans in near Balipatna. "It was all about getting to know them, engaging with them, understanding their strengths and making them understand market realities," she explains. Despite a few initial hiccups, eventually, many artisans joined her. Today, she works with over 25 artisans to design and manufacture mini dolls, invites, scrolls, jewellery and other boxes with pattachitra designs and offers up to 25 to 30 products.
Apart from pattachitra, elements of soura and gond art can also be seen in her products
Shiny distributed the work among artisans in such a way that she and the artisans would collaborate over the designs, the artisans would then execute it and others would help with technicalities like boxes and so on. "These artisans would make two to three paintings a month and we had to accelerate the pace. Distributing the work helped in this aspect as we needed them to make three to five boxes per day," says the youngster who despite having a background in MBA stepped in the realm of design to help out and come up with designs for different utility ranges.
An artisan painting a doll | (Pic: Folkmate)
"I was delighted that I was helping artisans earn a stable and sizable income every month," shares Shiny who also informs that her products are brought in bulk from clients in Mumbai, Bengaluru and other metro cities too. "Now, I don't interfere. I work with the main artisans, discuss designs and they go on to hire other artisans to ensure that the products are delivered as desired. I wanted to follow this format to ensure that even artisans become more enterprising," she explains.
During the lockdown, the artisans were working from home
In preparation for Raksha Bandhan, they have started working on hand-painted Rakhis too. "It's a seasonal market but a huge one, it is a huge opportunity for us and we want to make the most of it," the entrepreneur says and adds, "Odisha has a huge potential when it comes to art, we just have to strengthen its reach."
Some of what they do
For more on them, check out instagram.com/folkmate