Villcart – Treasures from the Village

Merril Diniz, a media professional with an interest in animal welfare, inclusive education, ethical shopping and more shares an informative article about a handicraft initiative that she recently came across.

A couple of months back I stumbled upon a website called Villcart, which sells handmade products online. I read about it on a site called The Better India (TBI), which chronicles stories of progress – initiatives by Indian people that have led to social impact of some sort.

Interestingly, TBI itself could be considered as an initiative in the direction of social impact because it was founded and is managed by a bunch of professionals with day jobs.

This, they do for love and passion, and contributors get paid a minimal amount. Perhaps some even do it for free. But it’s a well-managed site, which archives and promotes info well (definitely one of the founders must be a geek read techie!).

Coming back to Villcart, since I love handmade stuff especially by our talented Indian artisans, I surfed the site and several items piqued my interest.

These little treasures are made by artisans in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, many of whom are tribals and women, sometimes simultaneously both. The pricing was pretty decent but I wouldn’t say that it’s the pricing that gives it the edge. The stuff has a nice finish, and quite pleasing to the eye.

Like the six-seater rack made by artisans in Jaipur, from mango tree bark and ceramic, costing Rs 1140. There is a similar one in Fab India for Rs 870 + tax, but not as pretty as this one.

Also spotted in Dilli Haat, which was around Rs 650, but again it looked rather run-off-the-mill. I would say that the piece from Villcart has a certain wow factor. One can store jewellery and just about anything in the rack. We use it to store all kinds of random clutter that exasperates me when strewn across clear surfaces.

I also ordered this jewellery box, which has a wooden base, a brass clasp and exterior with Meenakari art work by artisans in Udaipur. The colours are just scintillating! Seems I miscalculated its size, when I placed the order.

It looks smallish on the website, enough to house a couple of rings and a pair of earrings. But when it arrived, voila, it was largish and could house several earrings, rings and then some. And the façade was simply stunning. One feels like this peacock is coyly strutting his stuff, just for mineeyes! The inside is a plush red velvet and the box has a golden clasp.

This little bright yellow candle holder made of blue pottery from Jaipur was Rs 100 each, with splashes on blue and green!. It manages to infuse a splash of colour into the surroundings.

There’s something quite sincere about this initiative. If you don’t like something, you can return it and get a refund. The shopping interface is pretty smooth.

You can ask a question and expect a prompt response, and Kiran, Founder of Villcart is pretty hands-on. An IITian turned entrepreneur, he considers his enterprise to be one way of problem-solving – encourage the livelihood of artisans by marketing what they create. In one of his mails, he mentioned that that there are “10s of 1000s of good designs in the rural areas’.

Phew! I urge people to buy more handmade stuff by artisans, whether from an online portal like Villcart or directly from the artisan himself, because there’s a certain charm and a personal touch when something is crafted by our God-given hands. Though if you bargain with the poor artisan, till the cows come home, until what he earns is a pittance, that defeats the purpose now doesn’t it? It’s not like one would do the same with the sales girl at Shoppers Stop.

Text & Photographs by: Merril Diniz

The Lifestyle Portal

Tanya is a graduate in Sociology from Sophia College, Mumbai, a post-graduate in Communications and Media from SNDT Women’s University in Mumbai and holds a Master's Degree in Journalis & Mass Communications from Chandigarh University. A former writing mentor and a seasoned lifestyle writer, Tanya writes columns on The Lifestyle Portal of life and living.

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