Shopping in Pune never ceases to get better. And now, Caravan Craft, a Bangalore-based store, comes to Pune and has brought with it different angles to home products, clothes and jewellery. It provides merchandise which is eco-friendly, aiding Indian craftsmanship and spirit, yet is very contemporary in terms of living. They have recently opened an outlet in Pune, at Phoenix Market City, Nagar Road.
Kunal R Sachdev, the Managing Director of Caravan Craft Retail Private Limited, calls the company as a single brand retail venture dedicated towards reviving and promoting Indian crafts and provides support to the Indian artisans. “Caravan aims to create products by using the traditional skills of artisans and fusing them with design and technology to satisfy ‘Staple’ needs of consumers. Caravan will create a commercially sustainable eco-system through the development of relevant and contemporary customer-focused merchandise for retail distribution, sourced from local artisan communities. The products span from women’s apparel to home decor, jewellery, toys and gifts.”
Sachdev admits that they found the traditional craft was not in a great state, thanks to mass production of such items leading to uneven competition. “This has led to activities like handloom weaving seeing a steep decline and the people still involved subsisting on very low incomes. In addition, most crafts have not evolved to address the needs of modern society. It was in the challenge of making traditional crafts relevant to modern society, preserving the craft skills and providing meaningful livelihood to artisans that Caravan saw an opportunity. Caravan aims to enhance the skills and employability of artisans by helping them to tailor their crafts to meet the needs and desires of 21st century customers. We call this ‘handcrafted’.”
All this dedication got calculated into exceptional response to Caravan Craft in Bangalore where customers took up to this experience of contemporary crafter products. “That we have sold out six months of inventory in certain product categories in just a month stands testimony to this.”
Pune’s interesting cosmo crowd was the point for Caravan Craft to come here. Sachdev found the discerning people interesting who knew about Indian crafts and appreciated the heritage’s value but also the skill. He adds, “We believe the people of Pune will find that our product offerings, which combine utility and contemporary design with Indian crafts, meet their expectations for modern living with Indian character.”
Sachdev feels Caravan is a mix between mastery and idealism of craft and a good knowledge of today’s need. “Every product has a significant manifestation of Indian craft yet addresses the functionality need of the consumer. This is a significant departure from the way craft products have been traditionally sold in India where they only served a decorative function. Our endeavour is to make the transition from handicrafts to ‘handcrafted’.” He feels that competition comes from national retail chains and bigger stand-alone players. What makes them different is the simple fact that they focus on class-apart functionality along with aesthetic elements.
Sachdev feels that despite the troubles the artisans are facing in terms of market demands, they want to be as creative and have the entrepreneurial spirit. “Our engagement with the artisan communities continues to be about helping them to create products that are in line with customer needs while retaining the integrity of the craft form. To achieve this we are designing and executing training programmes that help them create contemporary products. We are also working to provide market linkages for their products.”
And hearing all this, Punekars will be more than excited to know what is in store for them at Caravan Craft. Sachdev reveals, “We shall be introducing exciting new designs, silhouettes and categories. We’ve just launched Appliqué tunics and shirts. These are products crafted by women of the Rabari community in Gujarat.”