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Flipkart weaves magic into Andhra Pradesh’s traditional Mangalgiris and Uppadas

Written by  Published in Business Saturday, 20 January 2018 09:00
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Andhra Pradesh State Handloom Weavers Cooperative Society Ltd (APCO) has joined hands with online retail giant Flipkart for their Samarth initiative and curated an exquisite collection of handloom products for Flipkart customers, including traditional craft forms like Venkatgiri, Mangalgiri, Chirala, Dhamavaram, Uppada and Rajahmundry for this festive season.

Thirty-year-old Bobba Balaji is passionate about what he does – he weaves magic into simple dyed cotton yarn and transforms it into exquisite Mangalgiri sarees, famous for their characteristic dual colour tones and wearing comfort.

“My ancestors were also weavers and I have grown up seeing my family practice this craft. I am passionate about it as it is in my blood and I have been weaving for the past 15 years,” says Balaji, who comes from a family of weavers from Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur district, who have been striving to keep the art of weaving alive and pass it down the generations to preserve this ancient Indian craft.

Each Mangalgiri saree is a celebration with its beautiful borders adorned with designs of peacocks and elephants, which are especially woven by hand by artisans. The pallus are finished with jacquard work to lend that festive look. The process of weaving for each piece is an elaborate one and it takes multiple craftsmen a few days to complete a single saree.

But the pandemic and resultant lockdowns have been challenging for thousands of struggling weavers like Balaji, who were left with no means of selling their creations. Traditionally, they used to sell their weaves to a select few customers in nearby locations, which got severely impacted during the lockdown.

Late last year, the Andhra Pradesh State Handloom Weavers Cooperative Society Ltd (APCO), which offers support to weavers in even the most remote areas of the state creating the most intricate Jamdanis and Mangalgiris, joined hands with online retail giant Flipkart for their Samarth program.

“We partnered with Flipkart Samarth and took the handloom crafts of our weavers online to gain an insight into market-driven designs and varieties, thereby increasing the earnings and assuring employment to the weaver community,” said L Ramesh Babu, General Manager, Marketing at APCO.

Founded in 1976, APCO today supports more than 950 weavers’ co-operative societies spread across its 159 branches.

Partnering with the Flipkart Samarth initiative has expanded the reach of these weavers to a vibrant online community with thousands of handloom lovers, who appreciate this age-old craft and buy it. Insights from the platform informs them on popular designs and patterns, and also enables weavers to add a modern twist to their century old craft, helping them to stay relevant.

The Flipkart Samarth initiative was started in July 2019 with an aim to embrace underserved sections of society such as weavers, artisans, MSMEs and rural entrepreneurs and offer them a platform to showcase their products using the e-commerce platform. With this, their customer base has become pan-India offering them multiple benefits and a regularized source of income.

Since their collaboration with Flipkart, weavers affiliated with APCO have been able to create and exhibit a collection of authentic handloom products for Flipkart customers, which includes several traditional craft forms from the State of Andhra Pradesh like Venkatgiri, Mangalgiri, Chirala, Dhamavaram, Uppada and Rajahmundry. For a community of weavers who, until now, depended on tourists and exhibitions to showcase and sell their wares, the partnership has opened up avenues to a pan-India audience of over 350 million Flipkart customers, enabling better visibility, awareness, sales and, as a result, sustainable livelihoods.

“Flipkart is a great platform that enables products made by our handloom weavers to reach all over India, and not just in surrounding areas. By partnering with Flipkart Samarth, we were able to multiply the income of our weavers four-fold,” said Chillapalli Mohan Rao, Chairman, APCO.

In addition to providing weavers a platform to sell their products, Flipkart also provides them with cataloging support, training sessions, six month zero percent commission and advertising credits to get weavers familiar with the e-retail platform. The program impacts and supports more than 7,50,000 livelihoods across the country.

With e-commerce, the weavers now have an avenue that enables them to sell their products online to a large customer base, even amid a pandemic, and earn a dignified livelihood.

“Earlier, we had very few select customers and the sales of our products were restricted to a few nearby locations. With e-commerce, not only do our customers come from across India, we also get new ideas to design our products depending on customers’ expectations. Our original designs and handloom products reach people across the country,” said Balaji.

The weavers now have an avenue that enables them to sell their products online to a large customer base even amid the pandemic.

The weavers now have an avenue that enables them to sell their products online to a large customer base even amid the pandemic.

With the festive season around the corner, weavers are hopeful that their sales will get a further boost and traditional weaves will find their way into Indian homes for celebrations and festivities. And people like you and I get access to authentic, local, handmade and heritage-rich products from traditional markets and a chance to preserve our rich heritage. Source : ht

 

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