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Jun, 15 2012

CARVING HANDSOME PROFITS

Is your dream to own a low cost business? And do you wish to operate it from the ease of your home without being bossed by someone above you? Then here is the gateway to your desires that brings to you home-based and low cost business opportunities along

ARE you a mother and want to start a business of your own while devoting adequate time to your kids? Or do you love to work independently following a flexible time schedule according to your preferences? If you are somebody falling under these categories then the handicraft industry providing home-based business opportunities is the best choice for you. With the emerging trends in contemporary lifestyles, the industry of handcrafted items has still maintained its niche among art lovers in India as well as overseas. In conformity with the present day scenario, the nascent industry of handicrafts has also gone global yielding great demands and profits to the artisans and entrepreneurs.

The Indian handicraft industry is so diversified with its production in wooden crafts, metal crafts, embroidery, sewing, knitting, paper work, decorative and many more that the list seems almost unending. The rich cultural heritage of India has kept the art of handcrafting alive as many Indians engage in this activity as a part of their household work, while some have taken it up as a profession. Since the industry of handicrafts is still nascent globally, there are many home-based business opportunities with potential to yield great profits.

Market size

Many artisans throughout India are making excellent crafts in their homes, while some of them have converted into micro entrepreneurs exporting handmade goods overseas. Expressing her views on the market size of this industry, Monisha Gupta, owner of Craft House, a retail lifestyle store of handmade goods, said: “Strengths of Indian handicraft industry is very large and it has a huge potential market. A large product variety is available because of strong, diversified culture and supportive retail infrastructure.”

Presently, the global market of handicraft is valued at $ 400 billion and India's share in the global market stands at two per cent only, which translates to Rs 40,000 crore. The industry is yet unexplored but has great potential for Indian artisans and small entrepreneurs.

For providing artisans and small entrepreneurs the opportunity to reap rich harvest by entering the handicraft industry, Craft House, a retail lifestyle store of handmade goods, is on an expansion spree. Established in 2000 as a small retail shop in the lobby of a leading five-star deluxe property, The Metropolitan Hotel & Spa, New Delhi, Craft House has developed a range of niche products from tea to ayurvedic items, home spa to Pashmina to handicrafts to decor and many more. The brand does its own research and development for the products which are specially handcrafted by artisans from across India. This gives them an opportunity to work from the convenience of their homes by being in consultation with the Craft House team.

Mother Earth, another renowned Indian brand known for its handicrafts and artifacts, also works with thousands of artisans and micro/small entrepreneurs every year. The brand has not only set a market for itself but has also provided home-based business opportunities to many. “Anybody can become a part of our family, provided they have suitable product of desired quality with acceptable prices. Anyone who is interested in partnering with us should get in touch with our category management team,” said Piyush Deogirikar, Chief Operating Officer, Mother Earth Retail.

However, apart from these brands, Fabindia, Studio Alaya, Villcart, Aporv, Navdanya and other government and non-government organisations are striving for years to take the traditional as well as functional art forms of India to the global platform.

Home based opportunities

Some people are gifted with creative hands that can carve or make beautiful artifacts. Such skills are very much appreciated and are in great demand globally. But it is not appreciation alone that is making this industry boom. For, to acquire their handmade products, big brands like Mother Earth and Craft House are willing to pay good amounts to the artisans.

The handicraft industry throws open opportunities galore for the artisans and craftsmen who have an aspiration to expand their home-based craft outlets but do not have the wherewithal to make big investments. It is also suitable for the ladies who don't want to leave their homes for work due to some family commitments. Wood crafting, metal crafting, embroidery and many other art forms are some of the popular home-based business pursuits in rural India.

Some brands dealing with handicrafts seek association with artisans and undertake to manufacture some of their crafts or products made at home. All instructions and training are provided by the company itself which would pay them according to their talents. “With the investment of approximately Rs 2,000 for purchasing raw material of handicrafts, artisans can make Rs 4,000 onwards per month depending upon the amount of work. The more assignments an artisan completes, the more she will be paid,” says Deogirikar of Mother Earth.

Franchise opportunity

Having developed a niche in the market with its quest for quality products and innovative style, Craft House has opened its flagship luxury lifestyle store which is spread over an area of 4,000 sq.ft. and is located at The Metropolitan Hotel, New Delhi. About the uniqueness of Indian handicrafts, the owner of Craft House says: “The Indian handicrafts showcase the finest arts and lifestyle goods from all over India, in tune with the international trends. Imbued with the art of being unique, all creations here belong to the realm of the exceptional. Distinctively Indian, Craft House renews and confirms the tradition of the master craftsman and thus has rigorous standards on which they have to work. Best quality and innovative products are the focus at Craft House; as long as these requirements are met, area and investment don't hold much importance in the case of artisans / entrepreneurs.”

However, Mother Earth is looking for a franchisee or business partner who shares the same vision and passion for retail and social cause like they do. “Who believes in triple bottomline concept 'Planet, People and Profit', profit alone can not seek our franchise. The start-up investment cost to attain the franchise of our brand would be Rs 15 lakh onwards, depending on the size of the store. Store size would be preferably about 500-2,000 sq. ft (carpet), either in a mall or in main market places,” explained the COO of Mother Earth.

Citing the demand for handcrafted goods, the companies are promoting some of their products, including solid wood furniture, ladies ethnic wear, gifts & décor merchandise, through networks of dealers and distributors.

Training and support

For any business, either independent or franchise, training and support are very essential. They not only provide you adequate knowledge about the related field but also hone your skills. In this case, Mother Earth provides everything that a franchisee may need to run a successful store. It helps its franchisees in store designing and in getting the store ready, and also in merchandising and customer training.

Craft House provides customer feedback to its franchisees and also shares the latest trends with them to ensure the products are appealing and blend with modern lifestyle.

The artisans and craftsmen are also provided assistance in the packing of the fragile artifacts made by them. “Due to proliferation of retail, the artisans working with us are well aware of modern packing requirements. In case some partners need help, we provide all kinds of support,” asserted the Chief Operating Officer of Mother Earth.

To top it all, Craft House takes its responsibility for environment protection seriously. Thus, eco-friendly materials like bamboo and azo-free colours are used; non-polluting chemical-free organic ingredients and pesticides are used for packaging. “These materials are recyclable and biodegradable and we emphasise on minimal use of plastic at our stores. Even after purchase of any products, they are being delivered to the guest with proper guidance and complete instructions,” said Gupta.

Roll out plan

Traditional occupations still have their space in India and they can become popular if they come to the market in a new avatar. The talent involved in these occupations need to be tapped so that they can contribute to modern sectors like food, fashion, home, etc.

Mother Earth currently marks its presence in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, Calicut, Vashi, Thane, Lucknow, Nasik, Vijayawada, Jaipur, Gurgaon, Noida and Raipur, in the form of shop-in-shops (SIS). The main operations of the store are done from Bengaluru, Mumbai, Kolkata and Mysore, where they have company-owned outlets. Considering the demand for indigenous handmade goods and keeping in mind the future prospects of artisans and craftsmen, Mother Earth is planning to roll out its outlets via the franchise route in tier I, tier II cities by the end of this year. “We have taken the franchise route recently. Franchising helps in maximising economy of scale and faster expansion. The franchisee route is the best medium to reach out to a wider customer base. Besides, it promotes entrepreneur partnerships,” elaborated Deogirikar.

On the other hand, Craft House currently has two company-owned stores in New Delhi and one in Gurgaon. Besides, one store is also at New Delhi's International Airport, which is the biggest India destination store. The brand also exports to countries in Asia, Europe and North America. The company also has plans to open franchise outlets pan-India and at international locations but the target locations are yet to be decided.

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