Published: 10th February 2021
This 25-year-old from Odisha works with artisans to deliver handmade fusion products that you'll love
How would you like a new bedside terracotta lamp with a bamboo shade for your bedside table? Or a sabai grass wall decor to adorn your home? We know just the perfect place you should get it from.
It's been a rough start for Mooi Toi and it's founder Binal Desai. When she registered the start-up that offers traditional handcrafted products with a modern touch in January last year, Corona put a pause on it. But since October 2020, things have been looking up. The latest good news that lifted Binal's spirits was being selected for Pratiba. This business incubation programme was launched in collaboration between her alma mater NIFT and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to empower those entrepreneurs using their creativity and design knowledge to engage and uplift rural creativity. The lucky 25 to be selected will get Rs 10,000 monthly marketing support, along with a host of other benefits for a full year! So now, this 25-year-old is choosing to focus on the bright side.
Terracotta chip and dip platters | (Pic: Mooi Toi)
Terracotta has never looked this classy! Just look at the terracotta hand-painted bowls Mooi Toi offers or the chip and dip platters. What really works for this Bargarh-registered start-up is fusion. "We are fusing two crafts to make a new design. For example, terracotta with ceramic finishing or terracotta with sabai grass," says Binal. Thus, the purposes of both beauty and utility are served effectively. And since the products receive a food-safe ceramic coating, the possibilities are endless. The wood and metal crafts comes from the 20 artisans in Jaipur who she was acquainted with when she worked for Natural Fibres Export as an Accessory Designer and Merchandiser and from 50 artisans in Odisha, she gets terracotta, sabai grass and bamboo craft, who she has been in touch with since she has been working with ORMAS (Odisha Rural Development and Marketing Society) as a Designer.
Wooden hand-painted chopping boards | (Pic: Mooi Toi)
While the sabai grass comes from Mayurbhanj and the bamboo from Sambalpur, terracotta products are sourced from Khurda and Bargarh itself. "Though the terracotta artisans ask for a significantly higher wage, we don't bargain because we know its worth. Also, the sabai grass artisans are so enthusiastic to learn and are willing to work too," says the youngster who passed out from NIFT Bhubaneswar in 2017 after pursuing Fashion and Lifestyle Accessory Design.
Binal | (Pic: Mooi Toi)
While the nation was slowly unlocking, it was during Diwali that Binal decided to take a solid step to increase the reach of her products. She set up a small stall outside her father's office in Baragrah and her diyas sold like hotcakes! Things really started looking up from this point onwards and Bargarh-born Binal is looking for more exhibitions to display her products in. Indeed, a steady revenue of Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 is now a monthly assurance. As far as online sales go, "We are registered on Amazon and are looking forward to being listed with Flipkart as well," she exclaims.
Terracotta and sabai-fused planter | (Pic: Mooi Toi)
Indeed, it's been a rough start from Mooi Toi and it's founder Binal Desai. But calm waters don't make skillful sailors, or in this case, skillful entrepreneurs, do they?
- Terracotta biryani bowls
- Terracotta planters with sabai grass layering
- Sabai grass wall decor
- Wooden bowls fused with laser-cut metal design
- Tribal art-style vase
- Terracotta lamp with bamboo shade
Terracotta hand-painted set of jug, bottle, glass and bowl | (Pic: Mooi Toi)
For more on them, check out mooitoi.com