Tanvi Bachchandani and Charan Shekhar are co-founders of Ethical Clothing brand Tamarind Chutney and are friends from nursery school. She often discussed career options as she grew up and talked about starting in the permanent fashion space. This dream came true after many years.
Meanwhile, Tanvi has a Columbia University bachelor’s degree in economics and South Asian studies and Charanya opted to join the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) to pursue her interest in fashion and textiles.
Tanvi tells, “During my time at Columbia, I realized how lucky I was to lead my life and the opportunities that came my way. I also started seeing the prevalent inequalities in the society and decided to come back to India and work in the development sector.”
On his return, Tanvi joined the Central Square Foundation where he worked in the field of education. However, she also wanted to explore other areas of development, particularly to create livelihoods for marginalized communities. For some time, Fab India did an internship in the handloom and craft business, which became interested
When she joined her master’s course at Stanford Business School, the idea of becoming an entrepreneur took root in her mind. Tanvi became convinced about livelihood creation and started talking to Charan, who at the time Barrick I, a male apparel company, was thinking about quitting her job.
Granting their right to artisans
During her time in the US, Tanvi noticed that many western clothes such as Indian clothing Ikat Were made with and sold at expensive prices. But the artisans get only a part of the clothes paid for the customers.
She says, “It was not a proper supply chain. I wanted to do something about it and also make contemporary clothes for younger audiences. “
Tamarind Chutney made top
Founder to meet small artisans, with a small grant from Stanford Rajasthan Visited, who, despite having a vibrant market for his craft, was not earning enough.
She explains, “Azrakh, Kalamkari, Pochampally, Ikat and others have become prominent, but only a few artisans have become famous due to the brands they work with. Small artisans were not getting much market access within these craftsmen. ”
First collection was successful
So, in 2019, with fabric from these small and medium-sized artisan communities, Tamarind Chutney Started its first collection with Azrakh and Handwoven fabric from Kutch and Uttar Pradesh. The line included tops and dresses in about 10–11 styles. In the last one year, they have expanded to include Maheshwari and Chanderi silk artisans, Bengali weavers. Recently, he has added Sanganer Block Printing from Rajasthan to his lineup.
The clothes are sourced from artisans from five states. Charanya designs clothes and sewing is outsourced to a sewing unit in Delhi. Some goods are also outsourced to non-profits who work to advance women.
Sourcing of clothes is not the sole objective of Tamarind Chutney. The co-founders have raised a fund to ensure basic livelihood support to the artisans during COVID-19. The organization helps them market products and gets in touch with buyers directly.
Tamarind Chutney The target audience of Tier I and II cities is women between 18 and 40 years old. These are typically women buying from an ethical, sustainable brand, and who want to keep an element of craft in their wardrobe.
The products are sold on its website, and also listed on other sites such as LBB. Prices start from Rs 650 and go up to Rs 3,500, and the range now includes tops, dresses, masks, hairbands, saris, pants and men’s apparel.
“Obviously, the COVID-19 has been really bad for smaller brands. The good thing is that we have not invested much. This has forced us to be creative with our digital strategy, acquiring online customers, thinking about SEO and being even more committed to the artisan livelihood issue.
To date, they have set their limits for Diwali to include rakhi, masks and home decorations as people are still spending for occasions and festivals.
Some challenges remain, including working with artisans as this requires planning, upskilling and meeting deadlines.
Tanvi says, “Hopefully, once things are back to normal, we want to scale our business model and establish our brand. We want to work with 7,000 artisans over the next five years. We also aim to inspire the industry to adopt better standards and produce responsibly. ”