#NICE Stories – Studio Coppre: Alchemizing the Glory of Handicrafts

Founded with a vision to revive the ancient craft of handcrafted copperware, Studio Coppre has become a beacon of sustainable entrepreneurship. The brand has exquisite handcrafted copper-based home décor and utility products.

Seemantini Mihir, co-founder of the brand, talks about the origins, challenges faced, and the impact it has had on the artisans and the industry.

Mining of the Idea

Studio Coppre was conceived in 2011 by Rashmi Ranade, a passionate entrepreneur with more than a decade of product design experience. During her visits to various craft clusters in India, she witnessed the dwindling status of traditional artisans and their crafts.

Fuelled by a desire to revive these ancient techniques and provide a platform for skilled artisans, Ranade founded Studio Coppre with the vision of being a catalyst for change. Studio Coppre collaborated with INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) and received funds from the Forbes Marshall Foundation, which helped to start the exchange of ideas between designers and artisans.

The artisans’ intricate knowledge of traditional techniques was seamlessly woven into contemporary designs, creating a unique fusion that appealed to both traditionalists and modern consumers. This Indo-Western amalgamation of traditional art with modern design breathed new life into the ancient cultural crafts of India.

Nurturing Craftsmanship

Launched in 2012, the team embarked on a journey by establishing collaborations with skilled artisans in Pune and the neighboring regions. These artisans, who had inherited the craft from their forefathers, were grappling with the challenges of a rapidly changing market and stiff competition. The process-intensive craft was losing its charm as experienced artisans were looking for other sustainable professions. 

Studio Coppre was the first ‘metal boutique’ launched in India and other companies followed suit. The brand was able to establish a consistent source of income for the artisans. Not only did the constant source of income encourage more artisans to come under the umbrella of the brand but more and more artisans realized the market potential for copper goods. 

Challenges and Triumphs

In the early stages, convincing artisans to embrace modern designs while preserving traditional techniques was met with resistance. The age-old techniques, deeply ingrained in the cultural and historical fabric, were perceived as sacrosanct. Breaking away from the shackles of tradition required a delicate balance between preserving heritage and embracing innovation.

Market acceptance was another hurdle. Convincing consumers to invest in handcrafted copperware, when cheaper, mass-produced alternatives were readily available, demanded a nuanced approach. Studio Coppre navigated this challenge by emphasizing the uniqueness of each handcrafted piece, the cultural significance of the craft, and the positive impact on artisan communities. This consecutively saw an influx of artisans into the copper crafts of our country.

In fact, 15% of the next-generation artisans (mainly in the rural sectors) are entering their ancestral craft business. In the urban sectors, well-qualified youngsters are mainly helping in the managerial and business aspects of the craft. However, for most children of artisans Studio Coppre works with, (especially in the urban areas), crafts are only a part-time option. These children have gone in for higher education in IT, HR, Design, Interior Decoration, Law, etc., 

The commitment to sustainability also posed challenges. Sourcing high-quality copper ethically and ensuring environmentally responsible practices required extensive research and effort. However, Studio Coppre turned these challenges into opportunities, establishing transparent supply chains, adopting eco-friendly practices, and creating a narrative that resonated with modern-day environment-conscious consumers.

Shining through the Challenges

All the efforts of Rashmi Ranade, Chhanda Bihari, Sudakshina Banerjee and Seemantini Mihir with their small team, were beginning to shine through in 2014. The market, initially hesitant, started recognizing the value of handcrafted copperware. As more customers embraced the conscientious approach and opted for indigenous handcrafted goods, the sale of copper-based products went up.

As the organization grew and word-of-mouth of proper remuneration for artists spread, more and more artisans came forward to work with Studio Coppre. Each product is priced in a way that the artisan is compensated fairly without any other masked costs.

This helped the “once wary of change” artisans to embrace the fusion of tradition with modernity. Studio Coppre’s creations found their way into homes, hotels, and exhibitions, earning accolades for their craftsmanship and design.

Refining and Reviving the Craft

One of the most significant impacts of Studio Coppre’s entrepreneurial journey has been on the artisans themselves. The income generated through the brand initiatives provided artisans with financial stability, enabling them to support their families, educate their children, and invest in their communities. The entrepreneurial model adopted by the organization ensured that the benefits were not fleeting but sustainable, creating a ripple effect that extended beyond individual artisans to entire communities.

The charitable nature of the business not only enables the artisans to be recognized for their craft on national and international platforms but also rejuvenates their sense of pride! It also ignited a sense of ownership and responsibility for the craft’s preservation, ensuring that future generations would inherit a rich cultural legacy.

Design Philosophy and Innovation

Each new product is a joint effort between the founding team and the artisans. Designers work closely with artisans, understanding the nuances of their craft, and incorporating the modern needs of consumers into the designs.

Innovation is not limited to design alone at Studio Coppre. The brand has experimented with new techniques, finishes, and applications for copper. At the same time, they ensure to maintain the highest quality of all of their products. Each product goes through multiple rounds of QC before it reaches the customer. 

So, not only does a customer receive the highest quality product but also receive a unique handcrafted product. The products make for great gifts, especially during the festive season. Festive/seasonal sales account for 60% of the brand’s overall sales figure. 

From traditional kitchenware to contemporary home decor and lifestyle products, the brand has diversified its portfolio, ensuring a constant evolution that aligns with changing consumer preferences. 

Patina of the Copper Community

Studio Coppre actively organizes skill development workshops, health camps, and educational initiatives. The company has worked towards preserving traditional knowledge by facilitating skills transfer from one generation to the next. The team has collaborated with educational institutions as well to create awareness about traditional crafts and promote them as viable career options.

Health and well-being are also paramount in Studio Coppre’s approach. Regular health check-ups, awareness programs, and access to medical facilities have improved the overall well-being of artisans and their families.

This holistic approach to community engagement has not only enhanced the quality of life for artisans but has also created a supportive ecosystem that values and preserves traditional crafts.

Concentrating on Quality over Quantity

Sustainability is a cornerstone of Studio Coppre’s business ethos. Copper, being the primary material, is sourced responsibly to ensure minimal environmental impact. Studio Coppre prioritizes working with suppliers who adhere to ethical mining practices and environmental regulations.

Waste reduction is another area where Studio Coppre excels. The company employs innovative techniques to repurpose and recycle scrap material, minimizing waste generation. Recycling of copper is a practice that has been followed worldwide for centuries. Studio Coppre has plugged into already existing, well-oiled recycling mechanisms that exist in our country.

The scrap is sold to scrap vendors, who are primarily aggregators of scrap metals. The aggregators in turn pass on the scrap to factories where the copper is heated and processed into sheets for further use. The company recognizes the environmental impact of production processes and raw material sourcing and is committed to minimizing its carbon footprint.

Studio Coppre’s vision beautifully aligns with NICEorg’s ideology of cultural entrepreneurship; bridging the gap between India’s ancient handicrafts and cultural heritage, by offering a modern perspective on traditional goods.

Growing Through Different Digital Ages

The digital realm is expected to play a crucial role in Studio Coppre’s future trajectory. E-commerce platforms, social media, and digital marketing are avenues that the brand is likely to leverage to connect with a wider audience and showcase its creations to the world.

Studio Coppre grew organically on Instagram, and they started at a time when organic reach was still possible. The brand has had design collaborations with an Italian designer called Ricardo Giovanetti Design and has also collaborated with several leading food and decor influencers. 

They have multiple sales channels we retail with a few stores GoNative in Bangalore, Tapri in Jaipur, and also online marketplaces like Tata Cliq, Okhai, Zwende, and GoCoop. They also did custom design for some of our overseas retail clients as well as gifting for corporates and HNIs.

Smelting Tradition with Modernity for a Bright Future

Copper as a metal has been a part of Indian households for a few centuries. Studio Coppre took this traditional insight and transformed the copper products into modern-yet-everyday-use products. The amalgamation of traditional roots with a touch of modernity is the essence of organizations such as NICEorg, which in turn is supporting the cultural enterprises of our country.

The entrepreneurial journey of Studio Coppre stands as a testament to the transformative power of sustainable business practices, innovation, and a deep-rooted commitment to tradition. As the brand continues to navigate the dynamic landscape of entrepreneurship, its story serves as an inspiration for those who believe in the enduring beauty of tradition and the limitless possibilities of innovation. 


All images are provided and belong to Studio Coppre. 

Author: Maithili Rao

Maithili Rao is an engineer turned marketer. She is a Digital Marketing professional with more than 5+ years of experience working with various startups. Maithili enjoys interacting with dynamic individuals and writing about them, and the real-world connections; that matter the most in this day and age.

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