In the autumn of 2015, master weaver
Shamim Ansari* was on the verge of quitting his ancestral profession. In their tiny home in Varanasi town, he and his brothers had forever seen their father bent over the loom, churning out lustrous Banarasi
It was a skill Shamim loved. But he was not earning enough.
“His brothers had already left – one was driving a cycle-rickshaw and another was working at a shop in Bangalore, folding saris
all day. This in a family with eight looms,” says Nishant Malhotra, a financial services expert who had come to Varanasi looking for weavers.
At that time, Nishant was exploring the possibility of his own start-up.
Today he runs WeaverStory, which sells handloom Banarasi saris
online to clients across 20 countries. With an average transaction value of $300, it has a Facebook
following of 130,000.
The young, bootstrapped startup
is already breaking even. “We make a profit
on every sale,” Nishant tells Tech in Asia
sell in the range of $105 and $1,500. “I doubt if you can get authentic handloom Banarasi
from a branded outlet for less than this,” he says.
The Banarasi, with its delicate warp and weft, and intricate golden thread embroidery, is considered a must-have for every bride in much of India. But the industry has fallen upon dark days, primarily due to intense competition from the power loom, which churns out cheaper versions by the dozen.
Market trends indicated a lot of interest in apparel. By 2020, fashion and lifestyle are set to overtake consumer electronics as the largest e-tail category.
*Name changed to protect privacy.
This is an excerpt from an article published on TechInAsia. You can read the full story here