Earthy soaps


In 2007, Sanjay Bapat, a biomedical engineer, and his wife, Vijaya, started a small enterprise in manufacturing natural aromatherapy products. Sanjay was working with Philips. On his trips to the US he had noted a rising interest in natural products. Vijaya, a postgraduate in science, was then a journalist with ANI. They gave up their jobs and began their new enterprise, which they named Floria Naturals.

In just eight years Floria Naturals has flowered. It now manufactures a range of products: soaps, oils, face masks and shampoos. The soaps are refreshingly fragrant and tailored for different seasons and skin conditions. You can buy Gardenia Green Soap with khus or Aloe Cucumber soap, both ideal for summer. Then there is Neem-Basil soap, soaps made with rose, honey, almond, lavender and more.

Floria Naturals also offers natural oils. Their oil made of coconut milk is absorbed into skin instantly leaving it soft and fragrant. “We are expanding our product range to cow therapy products. We have invented a Panchagavya soap, soap made with cow’s milk and saffron, and cow’s urine with sandalwood,” explains Sanjay.

Floria has been supplying soaps to Iskcon since one and a half years. The company also exports to Japan, Africa, Singapore and Germany.

CONTACT: 141, Virathan Budruk, Saphala (W), Dist Palghar 401102, Maharashtra Email: Website:





Rugged baskets


In Delhi, Manipur is becoming famous for its baskets, mats, black pottery and tribal trinkets. Several NGOs and trusts in Imphal are helping collectives of artisans to modernize their designs to attract urban consumers in north India.

Among them is the Humanity Foundation and Trust in Imphal. It has a network of craft collectives in different districts of the state. Siddharth Keisham, coordinator, says the foundation seeks out international and national designers to create stylish, contemporary products from natural material that can then be replicated by Manipuri artisans and crafts people.

Humanity Foundation also micro-finances the artisans so that they can buy raw material. Marketing and export of finished products is done by the foundation.

“We face a lot of logistical problems in moving our products from Imphal to Delhi,” says Keisham. “Our transport expenses are high since we have to move our goods from remote hilly areas. The long, exhausting trip to Delhi really cuts into our modest profits.”

But, he says, the journey is worth it. The mats, mattresses, baskets and eco-friendly furniture they produce sell in Delhi. “Good response by the public brings joy to our artisans and management groups. We should have melas devoted to products from the Northeast at least two or three times every year,” suggests Keisham.

Humanity Foundation has a counter at Panthoibi Manipur Emporium in central Delhi so you know where to go if you want to buy their products.


CONTACT: Babita Keisham (Bobby), Sales Manager. Phone: 9811472073

Sales counter: Humanity Foundation, Panthoibi Manipur Emporium, Mezzanine Floor, C-7 Baba Kharak Singh Marg, New Delhi-110001.




Smart stuff

pro-3Action for Autism’s Aadhaar Vocational Centre helps young autistic adults, above the age of 18 to be independent, creative and sociable. Courses include craft, baking and stitching. Young interns who opt for craft produce a range of products. There are colourful durries, mufflers, scarves, notebooks, door chimes, key- rings, coin purses, trendy jute bags, mobile phone covers, jewellery and so on. Rakhis, diyas and Christmas decorations are also made. These products are sold directly to consumers and institutions or at exhibitions and melas. The entire revenue generated is ploughed back into purchasing raw materials for fresh production and paying a stipend to the young adults who work there. Interns are encouraged to interact and make friends. They go together to see movies or to a café, a mela or on a day trip to another city. Such activities help young autistic adults to be independent and strong and deal with the rest of the world – on their own terms.

Contact: Action for Autism, Pocket 7 and 8, Jasola Vihar, New Delhi- 110025 Phone: 011-65347422, 40540991 Email: Website:





Arty brass


pro-4If you want a beautiful door for your apartment or house, ask Ram Avtar Sharma. An artisan from Jaipur, he makes unusual doors with tarkashi inlay work for architects and interior designers. His stall at Dilli Haat displayed samples of his deftness. There were small pieces of artistic knickknacks like boxes, bangles and artifacts made with wood and brass.

There were some cute wooden elephants and tortoises too.

He was also selling pretty key-holders with miniature paintings embossed on them. “After painting the miniature we sprinkle crushed gems to brighten it up,” explains Sharma. He has a showroom in Jaipur and says tourism has helped sales hugely. But he says he can’t export his tarkashi products. “Tarkashi takes a lot of time since it is handcrafted. It is difficult for us to meet export deadlines. Also, we can’t manufacture standardized products. Every piece is unusual,” he says. His father, Ramswaroop Sharma, is a national award winner for tarkashi work. n


Contact: Ram Avtar Sharma, Phone: 09799721920 Email: Workshop: 2/104, Triveni Road, Gopalpura Bypass, Jaipur








Saura art

PRO-5Delicately painted on tussar silk, Saura art with its fine lines and colours can perk up a bland wall. Devi Prasad, a painter of Saura art, says this genre originated with the Saura tribe of Odisha, one of the oldest tribal groups in India. The art depicts the Sambalpur dance. The predominant colours used are black white, ochre and red. Devi Prasad is a Saura too. He says he studied at the BK College of Art and Craft in Bhubaneswar and began painting Saura art, modernising it deftly with his brush. His Tree of Life painting, he says, attracts the most buyers. The Saura artists have been formed into a cooperative of 2,000 members. They have access to training. Devi Prasad sells a range of paintings from Odisha, including the familiar pattachitra that now depict modern themes that appeal to the middle class. Prices are very reasonable.

Contact: Devi Prasad- 09778479590 Email:










Camel bags

PRO-6Vinod Kumar and Mohammad Tanveer manufacture and sell a range of bags made with camel leather. There are travel bags, backpacks, laptop bags, handbags, clutches and purses in different shades of brown. “All our bags are made from 100 per cent natural leather. We are careful to buy leather only from dead camels. We also don’t use chemicals while processing. A generous rub of mustard oil gives the leather a darker tan,” explains Vinod Kumar. The designs are attractive and fashionable. “We download them from the Internet,” he explains. Their small business is based in Udaipur, Rajasthan. Both Kumar and Tanveer say this is their traditional occupation. Mostly tourists buy their bags. They travel to exhibitions across the country and online retailers now approach them. The problem, they say, is credit. It is difficult for them to get money to expand their business from government sources. “You need a guarantor. Where do I get one from? Government officials won’t sign for us,” says Kumar. Recently he managed to get a small loan and he hired eight workers. “But if I can get a bigger loan, I can hire more people and even try exporting my bags. I could set up my own online retail site. We don’t know, as yet, how to take advantage of the e-commerce boom. The government should help us,” says Kumar.

Contact: Vinod Kumar Mochi: 09928878774 Mohammad Tanveer: 09818996595 Address: 349 Awaari Mata Colony, Udaipur, Rajasthan