Kavya Saxena is not your average “lost herself, found herself” story. Her story is an inspiration to all those entrepreneurs who are building brands that are artisan-first. The founder of Craftpotli, an artisan-led D2C brand, Kavya Saxena is anything but average at what she does.
Here is her story.
Leaving the city behind
Kavya started out as a typical corporate employee. With a stellar career in marketing that spanned over 10 years, she had connections with people in the big league FMCG brands.
And then, COVID happened.
COVID was a rude eye-opener for Kavya. She, like many other people, was deeply affected by the chaos and suffering around her. This prompted her to “leave her city life” behind and explore the remote villages of India.
Her new take on life also gave her the ability to see rural life with a new set of eyes. Where other people saw backwardness and limited resources, she saw communities that were intelligently harnessing the gifts of nature for survival. And that’s all she needed to stay.
The rise of Craftpotli
Her first product came out of Koraput in Odisha. Kavya helped a few women who harvested turmeric and transformed it into organic soaps. As an experiment, she sent these products as samples to the city to see their reception.
It was an instant hit. That’s when Craftpotli was born. “Craft” for the element of handmade, and “Potli” (which refers to a pouch) was a reminder of the simplicity of the olden days when our grandmothers carried these handmade potlis’ around.
From the initial turmeric-based product, Kavya slowly expanded the range of products available on her online store. Now Kavya brings in experts from Delhi to help train these tribal women in manufacturing and production.
She now has close to 150 organic product contributors from multiple villages in Odisha, south India and Rajasthan. She also has a team of 52 permanent employees who work on other business operations like packaging, marketing, inventory and logistics.
“In this age and time, an online presence is mandatory to grow any brand. We needed more exposure for the efforts of the tribal community, and our Instamojo online store gave us that opportunity.”
5 things we can learn from Kavya, the founder of Craftpotli
Craftpotli now has a market in India, and internationally! The most notable of their customers are the United Nations agencies in India and Central America.
And here are the most important things that you can expect when building a tribal-focused brand.
“Ads won’t help, building a community with storytelling will”
You need smart marketing to sell handmade products online. Since these products are not mass-manufactured, they sometimes have a higher price point.
Simply posting ads that show these products will never interest the audience. For a business that has such a rich background, their stories need to be told. “Show the process, show the people who have been working day and night.”
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Customers who buy handmade are emotionally invested in the product. You have to show the value of these products not in terms of “ingredients or manufacturing process” but showing the people and the culture that makes this particular product truly unique.
“Traditional artisan small businesses aim to preserve not scale”
Handmade products are different from mass-manufactured products because of the time required to make each product. Each product requires attention to detail.
For traditional artisan-led businesses, scaling is not a feasible priority. Their priority is to preserve their existing resources.
The online store does not “empower” them but adds a layer of financial independence. Whcih is why, I don’t need to enter “price wars” and the products stay affordable. These communities are already sustaining on natural resources. But, being able to sell online easily lets them preserve these generational skills and gives them an additional exposure”
“Prioritise product listing effectively”
As a founder of small businesses, you know the rate at which you can stock up.
Keep track of your bestselling products on your own eCommerce website. Also, track which products take the longest time to restock. Since these are handmade products, the time taken for different types of products will constantly vary.
“I have certain evergreen products like our bestseller “Bhutatva Box”. Other times, I collaborate with different regional tribal communities to produce limited collections”
“Tailor corporate learnings to help small tribal businesses”
For a small business, knowing what to do next can be the hardest challenge. This is where the expertise that Kavya had learnt from her corporate life helped.
Kavya acted as a bridge between the tribal communities and their target customers. She used her networking abilities and was able to designate Craftpotli as a source for corporate gifting.
She also regularly holds workshops and mentoring sessions in villages to help them understand the power of selling online. Here are 9 Ways eCommerce can safeguard and promote traditional artisanal businesses.
“Glocal, not local”
As an eCommerce D2C brand, packaging and marketing online take up quite a lot of Kavya’s efforts. A strategy that worked amazingly for her was to highlight local contributions while appealing to global audiences.
“Our products are packaged with eco-friendly materials that are significant to the locality of the product. For example, our Bhutatva Box does not just have the core product of turmeric soap. Along with it some Sal tree Loban (Resin) which is unique to east India, and has ayurvedic headline properties when burnt. We also include shredded coconuts husk to burn the loban. We work with Craft mark and The Craft Council of India to ensure our products match their highest global standards”
Instamojo as Craftpotli’s only choice
Craftpolti has been with Instamojo since its inception. When they started, they wanted an eCommerce platform that would be “easy and simple”.
“There are so many things you would have to manage when selling online and shipping. Customers want a seamless experience. Since I am a technical noob, Instamojo has given me a much needed headspace to manage other aspects of the business. If I can run an online business in a village with the help of Instamojo, I just know I can do it ANYWHERE”.
With this platform, Kavya has been able to be proactive with her customers, that too at pocket-friendly prices! Check out Instamojo pricing plans here.
A highlight for Craftpotli: With the option of customised orders, it is easy to sort and filter the different types of variants and custom requests. All the details get collected on a sheet that is extremely easy to process and understand! Look at our list of 10 powerful marketing tools and features you can find on the Instamojo dashboard.
Want to experience the ease that Kavya does?