India’s rich crafts traditions reflecting the country’s socio-cultural diversity goes back to at least five millennia. According to the 12th Five-Year Plan, over 10 crore (~105 million) artisans and workers earn their livelihoods within India’s textile and handicraft sector, making it the second largest employer after agriculture. The estimated market size in India alone is about USD 8.3 billion (~INR 50, 000 crore), of which over USD 2.7 billion (~INR 16, 000 crore) is exported.
These numbers represent a vast diversity of individual crafts and textiles, flourishing since as early as the Indus Valley Civilization. These crafts, which are a treasure house of inspired traditions, culture and masterful skills, are facing an insecure future. The reason is, craft traditions were developed in a natural way to fulfil livelihood necessities but with industrialization, craft gradually became unable to cater to contemporary needs in a competitive manner. Many crafts have declined and some are at a point of imminent extinction. With craft products not evolving with changing times, there is also a grave threat of losing the national heritage associated with it and the tremendous value for the artisan community and the world.
However, the good news is that, today, there is a growing global consciousness of ‘soul’ products. Customers are willingly embracing products that are a testimony of our tradition and culture, whilst retaining the product’s functionality in the contemporary content. Caravan, step in here, creating globally-relevant products fusing traditional craftsmanship and contemporary design. With a primary endeavour to provide value to customers and build sustainable livelihoods for the artisans, Caravan is effectively bridging the gap between the rich reservoir of traditional Indian craftsmanship and the evolving needs of contemporary living.
Caravan Craft Retail Pvt. Ltd. connects India’s artistic traditions and crafts to customers, in the form of every day, contemporary products. This transformation encompasses a deep understanding and expectations of evolving consumer needs, knowledge of and sensitivity to craft traditions and artisans, as well as training them. Caravan’s focus is on building a strong brand that will successfully cater to multiple classes of merchandise.
Their current offerings are – Apparel, Jewellery, Home Accessories, Gifts and Toys
Caravan’s plan incorporates the stages of identifying artisan clusters with market potential, assessment of their skill-gaps, designing product configurations that bridge skill-sets and consumer needs, development of customized training programs, executing these training programs, and making the cluster ready to take production orders for the market. Product categories are matched to current consumer demands, and will evolve with them.
Caravan attempts to bridge the gap between the rich reservoir of traditional Indian craftsmanship and the evolving needs of contemporary living. In so doing, it seeks to revive a diverse and glorious artistic heritage and aims to protect the livelihood of artisans.
The objective is to provide the necessary design and training inputs to produce exclusive merchandise (working usually within the framework of cooperatives) with sustainability and at a growing scale that can provide measurable benefits to the artisan communities.
Caravan is committed to increasing the economic rewards for its artisans, by introducing them to contemporary design whilst preserving their craft. Since inception (in 2013), Caravan has trained over 15,000 artisans across India, to align with its product requirements. Over the next decade, the company aims to train 300,000 artisans, engaged in diverse crafts from leather goods to metal working, from weaving to embroidery and more.
Kunal Sachdev, Founder & CEO
Kunal has more than 25 years of experience across marketing, retail and operations management. Prior to Caravan, Kunal served as the CEO of Hidesign, a luxury leather goods brand. Kunal was responsible for scaling Hidesign from two stores in India to more than 200 global points of sale, successfully establishing the brand worldwide. Kunal is now focused on realizing his dream of creating Caravan as a global ‘soul’ brand.