RANGSUTRA EMPLOYS THOUSANDS AND PRESERVES TRADITIONAL ARTISAN TECHNIQUES
Traditional crafts are rapidly dying out as modern factories supplant artisan workshops. Rangsutra utilizes traditional artisan techniques to supply high-quality fashion houses, thus preserving the techniques as well as providing livelihoods for over 2,000 rural Indian homes. “Artisans were traditionally producing very exclusive products for their own families,” says Rangsutra’s Founder, Sumita Ghose. All that was needed was to make these high-quality products available to the outside world. How did Ghose provide livelihoods for thousands of artisans and bring village arts back to the cities?
Many artisans in India only produce exclusive textiles for their own families, and some artisans are paid very little to produce textiles as middle men. As such, high-quality handcrafted textiles have been increasingly hard to come by. Sumita Ghose founded Rangsutra to help provide steady employment to many artisans, while also preserving the traditional crafts arts and providing high-quality goods for the open market.
Rangsutra has employed over 2000 artisan families throughout remote and rural India, mainly in Rajasthan, Uttaranchal, and Assam. In working with many artisan families across some of India’s most remote regions, Rangsutra has faced and addressed many challenges. According to Ghose, such challenges included “how to manage timely and quality production when the artisans are so dispersed”; “how to ensure fair wages and at the same time be viable and profitable in a very competitive market for Indian textiles”; and “how to scale up and still remain committed to our essential guiding principle—‘respect for the producer and respect for the customer.’”
Rangsutra is successfully navigating many of these challenges. Notably, in order to scale smoothly, Rangsutra included its producers into its ownership structure. Early on, Ghose realized that inclusive ownership was the key to proper incentivization. Ghose said that Rangsutra’s artisans, “being shareholders in the company they realize that missing deadlines will result in losses to their company, and ultimately to themselves!” Rangsutra also emphasizes its respect for the producer through the assurance of a fair wage, and respect for the consumer through the production of a quality product.
Ultimately, Ghose feels that Rangsutra’s main task is to respectfully enable the preservation of village identity and culture in India. “The biggest impact has been to provide regular employment with dignity to our 2,000 artisan families, right in their villages, which ensures that they do not have to migrate to towns and cities in search of a work and survival,” says Ghose.
In the future, expect Rangsutra to continue its holistic focus on quality as it pushes towards growing its own organic cotton and improving the lives of its artisans though clean energy applications like solar powered lights and water purification systems, while also gradually expanding its presence in the international market.