18 Jul 2018, 09:52 — 5 min read
Enterprise: Craftpair E Trade Services LLP
Founder: Raziya Rasheed
Based out of: Kochi
Year it was founded: 2014
“Sustainability is the key to our survival on this planet and will also determine success on all levels”. So goes a famous quote by a modern philosopher. Raziya Rasheed, a believer and advocate of sustainable principles, saw an opportunity in creating an export business out of sustainable products. Using materials like Coir, Korai Grass, Water Hyacinth and Jute (among others), her company Craftpair, started in 2014 in Kochi, uses traditional Indian handicraft techniques to create sustainable handmade home accessories. She supplies to the European and Middle Eastern market and is looking to ramp up production to 100 units. Living in Kerala, God’s Own Country, inspired by the land’s natural beauty, she is driven to make a mark with her sustainable products and offer a viable alternative to plastic.
In conversation with GlobalLinker (GL) Raziya Rasheed (Raziya) shares her business journey.
GL: Tell us about your business and how it came into being
Raziya: Craftpair is primarily an exporter of sustainable handmade home accessories. We export wood and natural fibre products to Europe and the Middle East. As the name suggests, the firm is a pairing with craft. We realised that Indian crafts and techniques are extremely pure and sustainable, and we thought of bringing these to the market and started with an online website to sell them directly to customers. There we could find a demand supply gap and had problems in procuring products. At the same time, we started getting bulk inquiries from India and abroad and this made us think of having production units and enter the B2B market. For the past one year we are engaged in B2B activities.
We use a range of materials to create our products. Some of these are Coir, Korai Grass, Water Hyacinth, Screwpine, Nilambur Teakwood and Jute. From floor mats, to planters, to decorative ships from our ‘ships of the past’ series, we do it all. We think that in some way we are offering an alternative for a life without plastic, in tune with the environment.
We initially started as an online retail platform. We started getting bulk inquiries through our website from India and abroad and a few B2B fairs. This made us think of having production units. We analysed our online traffic for buying patterns and this helped us design a product mix for bulk exports. People are ready to wait for products that are hand-crafted and have aesthetic and functional features.
We established export relations with other countries based on sales inquiries and business partnership requests; buying capacity; trade relationship with India; and their approach towards environment and sustainable living.
GL: What are the challenges you have faced in establishing your business?
Raziya: The primary challenge was pricing. It was difficult to foresee the cost involved in shipping procedures & to share an appropriate quote. Packaging was also a challenge because we have products in different materials, shapes & dimensions. We are in the process of solving these problems.
We are a startup company, everything is challenging for us. Every day we have to deal with new problems. Being in Kerala, space constrain is a major challenge. We have even lost good business opportunities with global retailers due to this.
GL: What is your assessment of the exports landscape in India?
Raziya: Our products come under the handicrafts sector. In this segment we are competing with countries like China, Vietnam, Indonesia and it is very difficult to compete in terms of pricing. We need better global branding for Indian handicrafts to position ourselves in the mid and upper markets of importing countries.
GL: What is your big business dream?
Raziya: As we focus on rural employment generation, our dream is to have 100 sustainable production units in the next few years.
GL: What is your message to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Raziya: Initial years of establishing a business are challenging and tough, but if you are consistent you will see results.
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Posted byGlobalLinker Staff
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