— JASMEEN DUGAL
Jaipur Rugs is one of India's largest manufacturers of hand-knotted rugs. The core team reaches out to rural communities, teaches them the art of creating hand-knotted rugs and empowers them with doorstep entrepreneurship. Celebrating forty years, Jaipur Rugs has cultivated artisan groups in ten states, connecting forty thousand rural artisans with the global consumer — with the sole purpose of elevating rural communities through hand-knotted rugs. Their biggest achievement is weaver Bimla Devi from Rajasthan who flew to Germany to collect an International design award. In conversation with Yogesh Chaudhary, Director, Jaipur Rugs.
Jaipur Rugs is a family business with a vision of protecting ancestral knowhow and connecting rural craftsmanship with global consumers. Do share the ethos of doorstep entrepreneurship.
We believe in combining the pursuit of profit with spreading kindness in a way that benefits all our stakeholders — our consumers and their families, the artisans and their families, our employees, our suppliers, the buyers and the channel partners we work with. By focusing on grassroots development, we aspire to become the leader in our trade and serve as a catalyst for how our industry creates both economic and humanitarian benefit for all stakeholders.
What were the stumbling blocks with the rural artisans to design contemporary motifs and textures? When there is a language barrier does the creative language take over? Do share your experiences.
It was an uphill task to convince artisans to work on abstract patterns and similar looking colours. Initially, the artisans strongly resisted this shift from traditional designs, but with the help of regular workshops and training, we were able to understand their issue and resolve them.
Having worked with rural artisans... what is the state they work in? Do they feel helpless or is it something they are used to? What is the government, corporate or fashion initiatives required to empower them?
For Jaipur Rugs, weavers are at the center of the business philosophy. It is our aim to connect the rural weaver with the global customer, sharing their art and stories with the world at large. By being true to our roots we are able to keep the authenticity alive in our work. At Jaipur Rugs, artisans work out of the comfort of their homes at their convenience. We endeavour to train and nurture artisans in remote villages in five states across India and seek to provide them with sustainable livelihood. We also work hard towards eliminating the middlemen and ensuring fair wages for the artisans. Through this approach, we have been able to touch the lives of 40,000 artisans across six hundred villages in India.
Today- what are your efforts towards the social upliftment of these rural artisans?
To be able to reach out to the marginalised artisanal communicates across the country and lay the foundation of a lasting relationship, Jaipur Rugs Foundation was established in 2004. Its vision is to create a society where equality, justice and peace prevail through socioeconomic development. Its key aim is to provide opportunities for all, with the insurgent mission to serve as a social innovator promoting the cause of artisans — especially women — by providing them job opportunities.
Do share the vision behind The Manchaha Project, in which weavers can create their own designs with leftover yarn.
Under the Artisan Originals initiative, weavers get to design their own rug — for the first time in Rajasthan. It taps into untamed fashion from the villages of India and experiments with the originality of rural craftsmen. It helps nurture their creative potential, which is unexplored at a global stage. Through this initiative, the perception of carpet weaving has dramatically shifted from exploitation to transformation. Each rug, handmade with more than 200,000 knots, is the story of its creator — complete with emotions, dreams and personality. This has led to a transformation in the mind of consumers — they now want to engage with weavers and get acquitted with their life. Each rug in the collection is a masterpiece for the design inspiration it weaves.
Through The Artisan Originals initiative, rural men and women who have either had no education or primary education, have stunned the world with original designs, competing with professional designers and design houses on the global stage. This one of its kind social innovation has resulted in important transformations in the life of weavers. It has renewed their passion for weaving, given them self-confidence and recognition from their communities. They have discovered themselves in a way they had never imagined. The project has facilitated the economic transformation of weavers who earlier used to work as mere wage earners.
Other than economic betterment, this initiative has also solved the rug industry’s constant challenge with surplus yarn. The Artisan Originals rugs are made using handspun leftover yarn batches, which cannot be used afresh thereby reducing wastage and making the palette of these rugs as unique as their design. This is a remarkable example of sustainable production — reusing and revival from waste. The collection has won several domestic and International awards like European Design Award, If Design Award, German Design Award, Kyoorius Design Award and Future Of Design Award, to name a few.
We believe you are planning to revive the fifteenth century tradition of weaving carpets in the prisons of Jaipur, Agra and Bikaner and working towards training and employing inmates to weave rugs. Please share your inspiration, vision and plan with us.
This is a step in the direction of creating a society where equality, justice, and peace prevail through socioeconomic development. The key aim is to provide opportunities for all, with the insurgent mission to serve as a social innovator and daring to go where other refuse to tread. The idea is to give meaningful work and bring dignity to the lives of the inmates and their families. These carpets are available to both domestic and international customers as part of The Artisan Originals Freedom Edition collection. Each carpet is a unique work of art with a story that impacts many lives.
Integrating consciousness with luxury is an important innovation driver. What is your advise for millennials to integrate business with a higher purpose?
I think the most important thing to remember is to be authentic. Stay true to your roots and work on creating a business that serves a purpose.
What are the future goals for your brand in the year 2019- 20?
While we continue to grow our B2B business, the brand will focus on making its retail presence stronger by adding mores stores across Indian metro cities and some significant global destinations.