Rivaayat, an initiative of three 19-year-olds, aims to bridge the gap between terracotta potters, basket makers and the online marketplace
Ghanshyam Prajapati, 22, from Moliya, Alwar, Rajasthan, put his hands on the clay for the first time when he was just eight years old.
Her older brother, father and grandfather are all traditional terracotta potters. Day after day, as the women of the family prepare the sand for each pot, Ghanshyam and his team lend it shape and circumference.
When public exhibitions, which were a regular source of income, suddenly came to a halt due to the pandemic, Ghanshyam and his family were hit by a crisis.
But now everything from water jars to the decorative tea sets that adorn his collection is being shipped across the world thanks to three 19-year-olds and their start-up, Rivaayat.
It all started with a social entrepreneurship project that three friends had to carry out, as part of their studies at Sri Ram College of Commerce in Delhi. “When we were in first year, we met a lot of artisans near our college who were selling jars on the road. Later in an article we read more about Kumar settlement in Uttam Nagar and tried to understand the craft better. There are around 600 potters’ families in Uttam Nagar and that’s where we started, ”says Tania Agarwal, one of the co-directors of Rivaayat, which started as an initiative in November 2019. With Tania, Rohan Kohli and Akshit Gupta lead the team.
After numerous surveys, visits and trials to understand the issues facing artisans, they decided to go ahead with a platform that could bridge the gap between these potters and potential markets.
The team first identifies the trades and art forms that are in difficulty, and then addresses groups that practice those art forms. “In general, in India, art forms are practiced in clusters. We carry out field surveys with these communities to identify and map their problems, ”explains Rohan.
He adds, “The basic framework we identified was to link directly to the marketplace, whether through websites like Amazon or our own website. The next step was to introduce them to the logistics and good packaging.
The fragility of terracotta makes packaging a major element of a successful economic model.
So far, Rivaayat works with 17 terracotta artisans in Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi. The products have been listed on over 20 online platforms, apart from their own websites.
The trio and their team of 20 have now expanded to baskets woven with water hyacinth. The little-known craft uses water reeds that exacerbate water pollution to make utility baskets. “By employing a group of 35 women in Uttarakhand and bearing in mind the environmental risks posed by the raw material, we are promoting this art form,” Tania adds.
Works can be purchased on rivaayathome.com