February 20, 2022
Originating from modest beginnings, Haastika Handicrafts Private Limited, grew into a successful Online Sustainable Home Goods Store. The drive’s enthusiasm and the team’s will to achieve positive changes made them what they are today. Along with providing environment-friendly and socially responsible products, the team informs and inspires a sustainable lifestyle globally. The brainchild of Mr. Biswajit Swain initially aimed at expanding the presence of sustainable and handcrafted products of Odisha to its appreciators across the globe.
Reaching a revenue of Rs. 58,00,000 per annum in 4 years was accomplished with the supply of a million sustainable products to different government-run bodies and events like Tourism Department, Odisha Forest, Utkalika, UCO Bank, Reserve Bank of India, Indian Railways, Coal India, Nalco, Pradip Port Trust, Indian Oil and many more.
With the combination of a rich industry vendor base, experienced team of professionals, total quality management, complete client satisfaction, ethical business policies, competitive pricing, and immediate delivery, this team of 27 won the award for the emerging startup by the Samaja Brands of Odisha Award.
Our Reporter Priya Bharti had a conversation with Biswajit Swain.
Excerpts of the conversation are as follows:
1. What is your vision behind handicrafts startup in Odisha?
Ans. There are two things why we have started working on that so, first of all, to promote the handicrafts of Odisha and give it a national and international market. And we have done that by posting the products on Amazon, Flipkart, and our own website.
We are also exporting a few of the handicrafts apart from that there is another cause for which we have started this company, to generate sustainable employment physically for women Artisans.
2. What do you think is the future of Sustainable start-ups in Odisha or the Future of Handicrafts and Startups in Odisha?
Ans. The thing is that Specifically, we have seen three pandemics now of covid, what happens this time is the priority changes for you as a human being and for me as a human being and we don’t go for the products which we like to gift, the product which we decorate our homes or similar products because handicrafts are used for those purposes and at that time the demands of handicrafts diminishes to sometimes zero also, people focus on necessary products which slow us down but still the demand is there and future is there.
We have generated employment for 23 plus Artisans and they are earning a very good amount from us and we’ll keep doing that and apart all we have generated employment and future is definitely good there is no doubt on that considering India’s economic growth and export, we are also working on export.
These things are really good and in terms of talking about the future as a person who started this is always that sustaining these periods is really tough.
3. What was or still is one big challenge that you face?
Ans. The biggest challenge is to remain sustained and to remain afloat. Because see what happens is that at this time the pandemic has made everything open nothing is closed and even the sale is happening profit is less and if the market sentiment is good the response is very low and at the pandemic time we have to pay home rent, pay salary to employees and it sucks! It sucks the capital out of the system ao when the thing again comes normal we need the capital to start gain grow again. If we do not purchase outrights from artisans how will we sell it! So at times, the same thing is challenging for us and at the same time, it’s an opportunity too.
4. Working with government rum bodies is a major achievement. How did you reach there in this short span?
Ans. See there are two things, the govt policies are good towards starts up but at the same time govt. doesn’t have any consumption from the start-up sites, it all depends on whom you’re working with…See I’ll explain to you with an example… You belong to which place? BIHAR… you understand govt structure right! for example, if I am working with handicrafts secretary and the secretary is changing tomorrow so whatever work I have done is gone, and I have to rebuild my reputation and everything in front of the authorities to make them understand the scenario so when the right person is on the right chair, they understand the things and try to help us in whichever manner they can and if the person changes the policies and rules also changes. I appreciate the state government policies, actually Odisha’s Government policies are good specifically for start-ups.
5. Do you think that you have successfully spread the message that you wanted to?
I won’t say that we have done it very well but yes we have done well to an extent and there are still a lot of things that need to be done because it takes time to make people understand what is sustainable and encourage them to use these. I’ll explain with an example Recently, someone asked me that they 8000 bags, so I said okay I can provide sustainable bags, and after they said they want it for 5-10 Rs only. So I said 5-10 Rs bags are mainly of plastic and are not sustainable. So we have to bring them to that level so that they can understand what is sustainable and sustainable means that it has some cost! For example, jute and canvas bags are sustainable and biodegradable as well but when you go for non-woven bags which are available in supermarkets those are very low cost and are not sustainable products, and they are definitely going to stay on the planet for a very long period of time.
6. One suggestion that you would give to the youngster willing to take a courageous step like you?
Ans: Persistence is the only thing…just keep on persisting keep on reviving your thoughts because people’s tastes change over time, so I’ll say adapt to the market and keep on persisting then the things will be definitely in your favor.
Interview By: Priya Bharti (Reporter at Interview Times and Alumna of IIMC)
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