The story of Craftkari is one of creativity, initiative and evolution. The group started out in 2008 as a small gathering of girls experimenting with different forms of Indian craft, supported by Manzil, a non-profit learning center based in Khan Market. After experimenting with stitching, abstract drawing, and many other artforms, they began focusing on quilling- an ancient practice which involves rolling, shaping and gluing strips of paper together to create decorative designs. The craft was introduced to the girls by Indira Gulati, a co-founder of Manzil, after she gained skills during a visit to Calcutta. The girls enjoy quilling because of the freedom it gives them through unlimited use of colour and shape, and also because it is eco-friendly. In this way, Craftkari is perfectly in sinc with Manzil values of sustainability. Over the years the group has blossomed. Their numbers have increased, their products have developed a distinctive style, and they have touched the lives of many through teaching workshops, holding exhibitions and of course through selling their beautiful designs to the public. Three of the girls, Mamta, Manju and Himani have formed a partnership, and manage their own bank account.
Their manufacturing process begins with sourcing raw materials- the paper is either handmade or jute. After deciding upon designs together, the girls then invest time and patience at home to make the products. The books, cards, jewelry and other items are then sold through stalls in craft-fairs. The quality of their work is often appreciated at these events. They recently gained great appreciation from the founder of Dastkar Mela, and new and returning customers often comment the quality of their work. These independent and enterprising young women are using their resources thoughtfully and creatively in order to become completely self-reliant. In a world where people are using resources with no concern for the future, and in a country where women are often financially reliant on men, what they are doing is remarkable.
The girls also have a desire to share their knowledge and talents, and have done so with a wide range of people: from corporate organisations in Delhi to children from nonprofits. Ever since the group started reaching out to people in this way, the once rare art of quilling has become noticeably more popular. We’re sure this is no coincidence! What is equally admirable is that although they now have more competitors, the girls have not stopped passing on their skills to others. Instead, they are motivated to move forward and come up with more brave and original ideas.
One of Craftkari’s best-selling products is the small tree notebook. Like a tree, the girls of Craftkari are strong and beautiful. They are constantly growing and branching out. They use the money they make to help their families and contribute a part of it to Manzil, thus enriching the soil from which they have grown. And even while facing challenges, they continue to focus upwards, towards the sun.
The vision of Craftkari is to create equitable and sustainable opportunities for women empowerment and entrepreneurship through handmade crafts.
The aim is to inspire and share skills with more women. We believe that if equal opportunities are given to women they can be valuable partners in building a better and just world.