Some stories are meant to be told and shared. Because they inspire you, to act on your dreams, to use your education and experience to start an enterprise, to not just read one success story (well, funding story) after another and quietly reminiscent how you had that idea months back, and encourage you to not count the ways of how something will fail.
One such story is that of Sony of Indsie that I found inspiring. Indsie is a year old online store selling customised craft works from South India. Oh yes, we have zillion sites selling everything from kottans (Manjal) to Bishnupur sarees (Tjori) and fabrics from around the country (iTokri). Kantha and dhokra, or tussar and ikat were not part of a commoner’s vocabulary until a few years back. Of course, that has changed, thanks to these sites. Some are famous (Jaypore), while some are rustic. The difference lies in how it is styled (Jaypore) and projected beautifully with words. But, at the heart of it all, there is a common denominator: the products. These are products that are made with the same love, care, and effort of craftisans, a skill that sometimes have passed down generations and stay within the family. For the craftisans, it is the livelihood. Agreed, it is a crowded space of decor e-tailers and exhibitions all round the year, some sites stand out and survive while many succumb to Darwin’s theory.
Sony founded Indsie a year back. I found Sony’s name as intriguing as that of her venture, and nudged her to share the story behind their names. In her trademark casual manner, Sony said, ” Indsie just came to mind as a unique brand name focussing “India”. Like “Its so Indsie…” = Its so Indian. And my name, well, Sony Soman Pillai weds Krishna Swamy = Sony Krishna Swamy.”
In an uninhibited conversation with Sony:
How did the idea of starting “Indsie” occur to you?
While I was doing BTech Computer Science, I was fascinated with technology and how it can be used to make software that can easily get work done. While I did MBA (PGDBM) at XLRI Jamshedpur, I visited interior areas in Jharkhand along with an NGO, where I interacted with Tribal people, who spent half the year making Dhokra crafts, when it is not agricultural season, living peacefully, but blissfully unaware that their craft was being bought by weight for very small exchanges. I participated in a social entrepreneurship business plan contest, during which this business occurred to me, of combining my love for technology plus social benefit, to form an e-commerce platform for craftspersons to sell their products, while getting a fair pay for their craft, and also disseminating knowledge about the craft, its history, and its maker in particular. The business plan was titled ‘Made Only in India’, and that is the current tagline of Indsie.com. After 4 years of working for a corporate, motherhood happened. I started Indsie while on break from work, and there has been no looking back.
What are your favorite products on the site?
The ashtamangalyam set and mural paintings are my favorites. The Kerala mural paintings are intricately painted with a lot of attention to detail. Featured below is one of Ardhanareeswara – half man, half woman. While the ones below are acrylic on canvas, it can also be done on wood using natural colors and on saris.