A road trip to Kutch left a certain wanting in 32-year-old Mumbai based Monica Gupta. The condition of the rural artisans at the hands of the middlemen was the turning point for Monica to bring a change, as she firmly believed that these rural artisans deserved better for what they create. This inspired her to start Craftsvilla an online store that aims at promoting and selling unique Indian handmade, handcrafted, organic gift items.
How did it all begin?
An MS in Accounting from San Diego State University, California, USA, Monica and her husband Manoj then decided to start Craftsvilla in 2011. A venture that would not only benefit the rural artisans but also benefit the customers who are aware that they are buying something very fine, exquisite and created by the artisans and not from a factory with bulk produce.
“I felt that there is so much out there that needs a good marketing platform and can be given to the consumer at a reasonable price. The jewellery made by designers and artisans do not burn a hole in your pocket if we can get them directly from the original source. Plus artisans too get a better price for their products. E-commerce being a huge space in terms or products, buyers and sellers made me start Craftsvilla,” adds Monica.
She launched Craftsvilla in early 2011 with an initial capital of Rs.10 lakhs. Her husband and co-founder Manoj Gupta was at that time working at Nexus Venture Partners and having worked previously on the board of Yebhi and Snapdeal, he was familiar with the workings of ecommerce. Funded by Nexus Venture Partners and Light Speed Venture Partners, it gave Monica the necessary push to kick start her dream venture.
Monica opines, “Usually you associate a villa with luxuries where you can enjoy the things that you want. India is such a diverse nation with a wide array of arts and crafts, a potential that has yet not been fully tapped into. We wanted to bring our craftsmen directly to consumers and not through an intermediary. That is how the concept of Craftsvilla evolved. Craftsvilla is all about high quality crafts, handmade, handcrafted items and fashion accessories at reasonable prices. “
When it comes to branding, Craftsvilla is an organization that has always had its consumers at heart. They have honed a loyal group of customers who end up shopping 4-5 times a month from at Craftsvilla.
India is still an evolving country when it comes to the e-commerce space and many people continue to be skeptical of buying online. Convincing consumers to shell out money especially online is a big challenge. This aspect is taken care of by Craftsvilla’s dedicated team of customer service helpline where buyers can get all their queries answered.
Their ‘call back service’ allows buyers to register their number and the customer care team from Craftsvilla call them back to help them with their queries. Monica also mentions, “We have also started with a ‘Buyer Protection Program’ which protects consumers from any kind of fraud.”
What makes Craftsvilla so unique?
Monica strongly feels, “The biggest USP of Craftsvilla is that it stands out from the rest. Most e-commerce portals in India are selling branded products or are a daily deal site. We are neither. We sell unique products not easily found offline or online and therefore bring a value to consumers worldwide. Our products are also handmade by individual designers, artisans and sellers across India. This brings a story behind the product out and not just a product alone. So you’re buying an experience.”
Craftsvilla Artisan Fund
Craftsvilla Artisan Fund is an initiative by Craftsvilla to socially help artisans who produce some of the most unique handcrafted. The artisans are mostly women, who among other daily chores work tirelessly to make a living. They need a lot of support and encouragement so that they can in turn help preserve our culture and tradition, which is reflected in their work. Keeping this in mind, a part of the profits earned at Craftsvilla are kept aside for the upliftment of these artisans and craftsmen.
Craftsvilla – As a platform to help local/ indigenous designers
To be able to sell their craft, sellers first have to either visit one of the Craftsvilla studios in Mumbai, Delhi, Jaipur and Bangalore or fill out a simple online form on the website. The sellers’ products are then assessed for quality and uniqueness, and the Craftsvilla seller team then connects with them to work out on the further procedures to get them online.
If it works out, then the seller can open shop within 24 hours of registering with Craftsvilla and get his/ her online space on the website and upload pictures of their products. “Craftsvilla will then charge a commission of 15% on every item sold as we are also a business and need to cover costs to make the platform better. Also there is no registration or listing fees. They have to pay commission fees only when the products are sold, otherwise it is not required.” adds Monica.
Before promoting any product/ item sold by an artisan, Craftsvilla performs the following quality control:
1) Materials used (e.g. jewelry metal used to ensure it does not rust)
2) Finishing of the product
3) Quality of the end product made to ensure it fits a price-point that a customer appreciates.
Market and data analysis
Monica further adds, “Our marketing team is always assessing what customers are buying through detailed trend analysis and data analysis. We then educate sellers across categories on these trends to ensure they are making products that fit consumer tastes. Also, using these trends and data, our seller team goes out to locate new sellers so that we can help them get instant sales for the season.”
In fact, Miss India 2011, Kanishtha Dhankar, was one of the brand ambassadors who has bought and promoted Craftsvilla products during pageants in the UK and India.
Facebook plays a big part in the promotions for Craftsvilla. They currently have more than 1,00,000 Facebook fans and it is one of the main traffic drivers. “Besides we are also focusing on growing organically through SEO and through affiliate tie-ups. We also have ads running on Facebook, Google SEM and Display Ads across the web that target our TG of 25 – 50 age females across the globe. We also send an email every day updating our customers of new products and trends at Craftsvilla,” mentions Monica.
So if you have foreign colleague or a boss who is visiting India for the first time, head straight to the Craftsvilla website to pick up a unique item that will make them want to fall in love with our country the very instant they see the ‘made in India’ exclusive gift!
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