Published: 02nd October 2019
How online store Brahmaputra Fables is promoting northeast Indian culture to the rest of the world
Dhruba Jyoti Deka, founder of Brahmaputra Fables tells us about the initiative that gives people access to products from northeast India
For Dhruba Jyoti Deka, northeast India was always a paradise for culture. Growing up by the banks of the river Brahmaputra, Dhruba was exposed to an array of unique traditions, ranging from the music and food to the colourful clothes and rituals. So it was a surprise for him when he moved down south to study at Pondicherry University and found that no one really knew much about the northeast culture. That's how the idea for Brahmaputra Fables came about. Started in 2017, Dhruba, through this start-up, intended to give people around the world access to northeastern products and expose them to northeastern culture and lifestyle.
Dhruba, who hails from Sarthebari, Assam, a town that is known for its brass and bell metal industries, explains how rich the northeast is in terms of culture and natural resources. "We have around 180 varieties of rice. We have very unique traditions, including our music, dance, food and clothing. But a lot of that is becoming extinct because we're not getting proper exposure. So, I wanted to showcase our culture through our handicraft and handloom products. In the process, our artisans can also earn their livelihood. I want to do my bit for the state," he says.
In-store: A flower vase made out of bamboo
Brahmaputra Fables is a digital integration of artisans and weavers of the North East. "We connect these artisans and weavers to our end consumers through their handloom and handicraft products. We started with about 30 artisans and about eleven products. When someone orders something on our site, our delivery person goes to the artisan and picks it up and delivers it to the customer. We also customise the products according to the customer's needs," says Dhruba. The start-up has now integrated about 3,000 artisans from across the North East and is now selling to countries like Italy, USA, UK and Canada. This also helps the artisans get much better rates for their work.
Recalling how he came up with the idea, Dhruba says, "When I was studying in Pondicherry University, we used to organise a lot of cultural festivals. We used to set up stalls to display the culture of the North East. Our friends from other states were awestruck and they used to ask us to bring them some products whenever we went home for the holidays. I once did a Google search to check the availability of northeast products on e-commerce sites like Amazon. There were hardly any and the few products that were available were very expensive. That's when I decided to set up an online store to showcase our culture to the world and make our products accessible by all."
Brahmaputra Fables sells a variety of products ranging from eco-friendly shopping bags, bamboo straws, bamboo home decor and pickles. "These are the most common products that people buy," says Dhruba and adds, "There's also demand for tribal northeast attire."
Dhurba named his start-up Brahmaputra Fables as he wanted to tell stories of northeast India through their products and it's no doubt that it is living up to its name.
Dhruba is a fellow of the School of Social Entrepreneurship, whose development partner is the PwC India Foundation.