Chitra Aiyer 2 August, 2021
Tharangini Studio, a finalist at the NICE Aarohana Business Plan Competition (BPC) – Growth Stage, is a B2B business for home furnishing and fashion brands with sustainable, organic, hand block printed fabrics and products. Proudly woman-owned since 1977!
Tharangini is the only artisan studio in India that is ISO certified.
Featuring the Tharangini Studio story on NICE Stories.
Partner at Tharangini Studio, Padmini Govind is a computer science engineer. A master’s from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she worked for two decades in multiple Fintech and Defense corporations in the US.
What led to her heading Tharangini studio? Why does she care deeply about block printing and the artisans? What is the Tharangini business model? Who are its clients? Read on.
This is her story.
Tharangini Studio is more than 40 years old. My late mother, Lakshmi Srivathsa, founded the studio in 1977 driven by her deep love for woodblock printing.
My grandfather was once the Diwan of Gwalior state, later with the Wodeyars. Our family always placed a high value on art and culture.
My mother loved art and studied in Triveni Kala Sangam in Delhi in her college days. While living in Delhi, she fell in love with woodblock printing, which was not so prevalent in Bangalore in the 1970s. Years later, when she decided to set up her unit here, she brought in a team of traditional artisans from Banares and senior advisors from Central Handicrafts Board to guide her in setting up Tharangini. One of her key mentors was Smt. Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, an eminent social reformer and a doyen of handlooms and handicrafts.
My sister and I were in elementary school when our mother started Tharangini. Growing up around artisan culture from our early years, the studio has always been an extension of our family home.
While working abroad, I always promoted Tharangini, which was still a small studio. On returning to India in 2009, I quit my corporate career and joined Tharangini. After my mother passed away in 2011, I took over the responsibility of running Tharangini.
Tharangini is primarily a B2B enterprise. We supply our block-printed fabrics to fashion and home furnishing brands.
Over the last decade, we tripled our production team and have expanded to the US, UK, Europe and Australia. We primarily used referrals, trade networking groups, and social media to increase our reach.
Our clientele mainly consists of global contemporary designers. We service a worldwide client base that includes leading furnishing and fashion houses such as STORY mfg., Anthropologie, Starbucks, Lee Jofa, Seema Krish, Passion Lilie, GPJ Baker, Trenery to name a few. We also serve independent boutiques.
Among Indian brands, we work closely with enterprises like The Summer House.
Sustainable, Fair Trade, Eco-friendly and home to the finest textile artisans.
We are also the only artisan studio in India to be ISO certified.
Change is a constant for any craft. Keeping in touch with industry trends is key to staying relevant.
At Tharangini, we have always been willing to pivot. We were a small unit working only on silk saris for the domestic sector. From there, we have moved to largely being an exporter, working on a huge variety of products and fabrics.
For instance, we make contemporary block-print clothing for STORY mfg. We map digital concepts into our handcrafting techniques.
The market for artisan goods has a lot of potential; however, it is also fluid. The recent trend among the millennial consumer segment is towards ethically made, handcrafted products.
We are proud to have one of India’s largest collections of hand blocks! Collecting since the 1970s, we now have more than 5000 hand blocks! We continue to make new ones and add to our growing collection.
We continue to expand our library with an eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary prints and currently have 4000+ prints. The entire library is digitized and we share the prints based on projects and themes.
Our biggest challenge is market awareness to help differentiate fake goods from authentic handmade products. Visually, it is difficult, if not impossible, to tell the difference unless you are well-versed in the handcrafted technique.
The only way is through certifications and trusted suppliers. Obtaining expensive certifications becomes essential.
Certifications: ISO 26000 for Social and Environmental Impact, GOTS, NEST Ethical Artisan Cluster.
Our amazing team is also our biggest asset! The team consists of 70% artisans, 20% support staff and 10% admin. Our artisans play a huge role in our business decisions, and they are a part of our annual profit-sharing plan that benefits each of them.
Every artisan family has been supported through the pandemic lockdowns, in 2020 and 2021. We have vaccinated the entire artisan team, and will now extend this to their families as well.
This past year, other than the challenges of Covid, we had huge flooding that damaged a large portion of the studio. With Gods’ grace and the team’s collective strength, we have been able to repair and rebuild.
Our artisans love Show & Tell. When a new product they have worked on launches, we always share photos and videos with the team. They feel proud that their work has reached a global audience!
Artisans who work with us are known to each other since the artisan community in itself is quite small. Now we are training women artisans in the NGOs we support. We are glad to see them picking up the trade and are hoping to have a larger pool of next-gen artisans.
We conduct artisan-led workshops that cover natural dyes, hand-block printing/dyeing for textile enthusiasts, next-gen designers, design students, artisan culture lovers.
Our master artisans Krishna Bhat and Satish are huge advocates of our Outreach program. They create the syllabus and lead the training modules for the specially-abled artisans at the Autism community centers.
We were delighted to make it to the finals!
This was my first ever business pitch, and the feedback from Team NICE was insightful and helpful.
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Images from Tharangini