Dr Megha Phansalkar, Founder at Tisser
Great Companies: How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
I am an Urban Regional Planner with an experience of 20 years in the development sector. Dr. Megha Phansalkar specializes in community led development in rural water supply, rural/urban sanitation, and rural development with focus on livelihoods. Focusing on specific work with the ability to multitask has always been my forte. My work experience with Non-Governmental Organizations, Government Departments and International Agencies brings a multi-dimensional, multi-stakeholder approach in working for partnerships and convergence helped to address developmental issues.
My work in the livelihood space brought me closer to artisan segment and resulted in starting a social entrepreneur supporting rural artisans across 18 states, thus helping 10000 networked artisan families earn livelihood through the enterprise model.
I realized that, with the changing of time-old art of handloom & handicraft are getting old and due to lack of innovation, are becoming redundant making the lives of these artists and weavers difficult. Craftspeople or artisans are the backbone of the non-farm rural Indian economy, with an estimated 7 million artisans according to official figures (and upto 200 million artisans according to other sources) engaged in craft production to earn a livelihood. However, they are a slowly perishing breed. The sector is highly disorganized with lack of institutional support and constraint of low capital, poor exposure to technology, designs and market intelligence.
Seeing the need of the hour, Tisser aimed to bring a new wave of innovation and sought a unique model by supporting on the product design & diversification, by bringing IT innovations for improving artisan connect, by working on end to end cluster development.
Tisser in French means ‘to weave’. We support weavers and craftsmen who make products using traditional techniques, skills and hand processes consisting of the core of Incredible India! We tap the artisans and products across the country and promote rural livelihood, thereby providing a platform for them to directly connect with the globe. Our artisans found an unmatched expression of our splendid culture through the cherished legacy of handmade products. Our core value is to respect the producer and the customer both. Profits earned from sales in part go back to support the education of the girl child of the weavers and artisans. It is our humble tribute to these golden hands that continue to weave respect, reputation and riches for India.
At the core of it all, it is helping the handloom and handicraft communities of India do what they haven’t been able to do until now. From 100 artisans and limited products when it began, to 10,000 artisans and 300+ products on offer, Tisser has come a long way, but has a much longer way to go. The idea is to run the whole operation like a business, with the profits being used to provide a better life to the communities, and supporting initiatives for girls’ education etc. In order to do so, a number of challenges have to be overcome. The years of neglect have resulted in these crafts and techniques disappearing from the public consciousness, with the consumer moving on to ostensibly trendier wares
The vision we have embarked: Equitable distribution of resources and better prosperity in Rural and Urban India. Mission we aim to achieve:
• Network rural artisans/groups towards creating small enterprises pan India
• Strengthen the handicraft/handloom value chain through ICT innovations
• Harness transformative power of rural clusters for impact business model
Tisser has put its foot forward in a strong value chain approach and supporting 10,000 artisan across 18 states. Generated livelihood & social status upliftment for artisans specially women. Created better opportunities in future for family entrepreneurs. Provided an alternate and poise to be the primary source of family income.
Networked with 10,000 artisans across 18 states of the country and mainly working in Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, North eastern states and southern states of Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
Created a range of new products in 1000 designed products
Conducted end the end cluster development with 2000 artisans intensively in Maharashtra and Formed 50 Producer Organization in Maharashtra
Worked with 8000 artisan through skill building on product design.
The core of the Tisser’s work is to generate livelihoods and contribute to the economic growth in personal as well as national interest. Tisser's approach is to provide ‘End to End support’ which includes Mobilization-training-product design-production-PO formation. Not only generating livelihood but we also believed that our artisan should not be dependent on us for our lifetime. For sustainability of the rural artisan and to encourage common good and collectivism, we went one step further and formed the Producer Organisation (PO). The regular flow of income is ensured by market linkage activities and partnership with various governmental and non-governmental organizations to get them orders and required funds for revolving their PO activities.
Tisser ensures the economic growth of the artisan in this competitive sector by providing eco-friendly products, unique varied designed products so that we should reach a maximum audience with great variety and appeal through the products.
Great Companies: What are the various products and services provided by Tisser?
We at Tisser work with rural artisans all over India. Our connection with them has not been limited to home decor, artefacts, and utility items, but also textiles and the fashion industry. We began by empowering rural women artisans in small clusters and have expanded too many states in India. In the three years of our operations, we have not only grown within the textile & fashion industry, but home decor and furnishings have been an intrinsic part of our brand. We have: Generated livelihood & social status upliftment for artisan, especially women. Created better opportunities in future for family entrepreneurs. Provided an alternate and poise to be the primary source of family income.
Tisser Rural Handicrafts is a social venture established to uplift the lives of rural Indian artisans. It has created a brand name known for its honesty, fair trade and product innovations. With a stronghold in creating handloom and handicraft products, we have forayed into the Home Decor & Interiors area with the same ideals. Tisser's Home Decor & Interiors space is designed and hand-crafted by the rural artisans across India. Our endeavor is to provide a value chain support for these craftsmen to showcase their creations that remain otherwise unknown. We at Tisser wanted to create products that would reflect the various art forms of India. By utilizing elements from these traditional art forms onto contemporary products, we aim to bring a little part of India into your spaces, homes, and offices alike.
Our innovative model works around:
End to end cluster development: Creating artisan groups, skills training, marketing and continuous handholding for all artisan clusters
Design intervention: Dedicated team of designers work on incorporating traditional art form into utilitarian products.
Product diversification: Expansion of artisan’s product portfolio, cataloguing and marketing of all products on various platforms
Block chain technology: Depicting artisan’s contribution and profit from a product; solution to provide transparency, traceability, auditability, immutability, security and agility to smoothen processes
Raising awareness: Artisan stories, training programs and environment awareness.
Regional hubs for outreach: Regional hubs for extensive outreach to work directly with artisans.
Empowering for business: Tisser Team empowers the artisans by strengthening producer groups Self-Help Groups and their skills.
Fusion of clusters: Through our customized product line expanding from clothes to home.