Hand For Handmade

Indian Design Society
3 min readDec 4, 2020

The craft industry is the country’s second-largest employer, with approximately 200 million artisans working in the sector. However, the Covid-19 Global Pandemic has created an unprecedented crisis for the craft sector and the millions of artisans involved. So when in the month of March, of a truly devastating year, the crisis threatened to reduce India’s rich and ancient craft culture into a debilitating cry for help, a unique conception formulated to champion the cause

The collective

Aptly named, A Hand for Handmade was the brainchild of Shibani Jain, founder, and CEO of Baaya, an artisanal store of home accessories and gifting. What started as a small WhatsApp group of forty designers quickly grew to encompass an enthusiastic community of Architects, interior and craft designers, not for profits, and members from corporate houses, all united in the common cause of craft promotion and support.

With the pandemic still raging, the question was how?

Walking the mile

As ideas emerged from all walks of the industry, Hand for Handmade slowly took the form of a multi-faceted collaborative movement to help the craft sector. Shibani observes, “It was as if people were just waiting for this initiative to happen!” Today, about five months down the line, the organization is geared up to bring its ideas and research into execution. The movement has over a hundred core volunteers, and the group itself has up to 500 individuals and organizations passionate about the craft and the handmade industry in India. A Hand for Handmade is actively working across four directions of plan execution. The first direction identifies the high demand in the Home, Hygiene, and Health sector and translates it into commercial opportunities for the artisans. The second targets the design community and their potential to make a difference in the craft sphere. Through branding, viable marketing, and design intervention, crafts can be promoted across different markets and generate income for the artisans. The third and the fourth direction aims to gather a digital database of the artisan communities and clusters and encourage craft sensitization amongst the design students, respectively.

The initiative saw its first success within no time. With the passionate work of its supporting members as well as direction from the leading experts in the craft and design diaspora (Ashok Chatterjee, Ex-Director, NID and Advisor to Crafts Council of India and Jaya Jaitley, Founder Dastkaari Haat are mentors in the project), A Hand of Handmade thrives in its new identity. The endeavor is still growing.

It’s more than the Craft

Indian handicrafts bind us together in the most unexpected of ways. While for some, it is a source of daily bread, for most of us, it is a sentiment.

As Shibani notes, “ Craft goods must be purchased not out of a sense of social duty for artisans, but because crafts are uniquely beautiful, organic, sustainable way to create beauty in our lives, homes, and spaces. It is also an important connect our own identities.”

In the absence of our support, this unscripted sentiment will perish and may not exist for our future generations to enjoy.

@handforhandmade @ Indian Design Society

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