One fine morning, I was as usual wondering about my career with dreams in my eyes, passion in my soul, and curiosity which had made me impulsively plan out my day almost in the same way that I would generally do.
I had completed my graduation and having no option of going for the higher studies, I sat in my room contemplating about my future. I called my cousin who was almost going through the same phase.
We would everyday carry our camera with us and go for a shoot to the ruins, heritage sites, and old downtown. Photography kept me glued to such sites, and I would grab every opportunity where in I could go and click pictures, learn about the history of these sites. This recreation kept me busy, and I started to love the background for which these heritage sites were famous for.
My cousin added some spices to my pleasure and his sense of humour and ability to go and talk with tourists made us aware of the fact, that there are things that need attention and are left unheeded.
Apart from photography, we also got interested in talking with tourists — foreigners. Foreigners are usually inquisitive people; they respect art and culture and when they asked us about KASHMIR, all we could talk about apart from the conflict is art and crafts which includes Shawls, stoles, paper machie, carpets, copper utensils, wood carving and traditional wear.
We would pass through the narrow alleys of the downtown area in company of these tourists and would chat around with them. We learned about various things, the inability of the tourists to get the genuine products of handicrafts on genuine rates. We met many people, who were sold the unauthentic handicraft materials at high costs. They could not differentiate between the genuine materials and the fake ones.
Once, we met a tourist who was sold a machine made Pashmina Shawl at a cost of hand-made Pashmina. We thought about educating ourselves on such issues. We met many people who deal with such items, and did a survey about the items so that we could differentiate between the real and fake ones. The manufacturers’ issues were also varied; they complained that they invest so much time in making the hand-made products, and could not get the desired profit because of not reaching the customers directly. The machine made wood carving items had dominated the market making the life of the artisans difficult. This also discourages the artisans to carry on with their skills of making such products.
An idea struck us one day when we were surveying the dingy hand-loom manufacturing units in the downtown area. We thought of setting up an online store, where in we can sum up all these products under various categories, depending on their rates and quality. This would also benefit the art that is losing its sheen in Kashmir and for which Kashmir is world over famous.
Considering the problems that both the customers and the manufacturers faced, we thought to bring them on a common platform that is where the idea of “CRAFTVERA” evolved.
CRAFTVERA is a start-up which brings the manufacturer and a customer on a platform where they can directly deal with genuine products and manufacturers. We formed a team and put our heart and soul into the idea of making it a reality. Our constant hard-work and perspiration paid us on the day when we got recognised as an innovative start-up under the ‘MINISTRY OF INDUSTRIES AND COMMERCE’. They felicitated our idea and we also got a representation of being the first start-up in Kashmir for the very purpose, to the best of our knowledge.
In the entire struggle that we went through we met some amazing people who supported us constantly and provided us the opportunity to make this idea, a reality. In the initial stage, it was very difficult for a middle class person to give a shape to such an idea but we didn’t give up, we met businessmen, who encouraged us to move on with our idea.
These businessmen belonged to the same field and they also wanted to bring some changes in the way the transactions are done.
The artisans that are into the product making couldn’t advertise their hand-made products on any platform where the quality of a product is publicized. To this, we formed a team of members who collect the data and products from them and do their photography in our studio, which enables the customers to get familiar with the aesthetic version of the items. This way, the amount of attention the artisans pay to the advertisement of their products is receded and they can fully focus and concentrate on the product making.
A month back, we launched our ‘beta-version’ and got an amazing response, not only from India but other countries as well. This boosted our morale to continue designing our full version, which is supposedly going to be launched within 20 days.
Our vision is to make our struggle into an idea, an idea into an achievement, and to build our achievement brick by brick into our satisfaction.
- Shahid Ashraf Baba
- Akeel Hassan Saqi
- Qazi Inaam
- Younes Hussain
- Tamjeed Abbas
- Miriam carino (Head of Marketing USA)
– By Shahid baba
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