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  • Give with heart: Some gems from small producers

Give with heart: Some gems from small producers

Published: Feb. 01, 2024
Updated: Feb. 01, 2024

Terracotta beauties

Mansi Verma's stall sells a delightful jumble of things you’d love to take home.  An attractive lamp glows gently behind her. There are more on her counter, along with planters with green leaves peeping out, pen-stands, bowls, a jamboree of jewellery, including bracelets for men and neckpieces for women.

It’s all made in terracotta, the material Verma likes working with. She started Banerii, her enterprise, four years ago after graduating in fine arts. Verma says she is inspired by nature, mythology, pop culture, Mughal art, traditional motifs and jaali work.

Everything is done by hand. “A lot of love and labour goes into all this,” she says.

That is apparent. Each piece is a work of art. Colour, shape and design blend beautifully.

Pick one beauty and take it home.

Contact: Mansi Verma, 9871819056 Email:


Child’s Potli

Potli is a wondrous khazana for little children. It introduces the child to the colourful, artistic world of Indian folk art and craft with amazingly inventive do-it-yourself kits. Your child can put  together puzzles of Madhubani art, block print your dupatta or T-shirt, build a tribal hut, make a kite or dress up a doll in a costume from Kerala, Gujarat, Punjab or West Bengal. All priced at `950. You can buy painting kits like a Kerala Mural Kit which costs `500.

Founded by Pooja Ratnakar, a NIFT alumnus, Potli was created to raise awareness and preserve ancient art practices. If you are looking for unique games and artistic do-it-yourself activities, Potli has just what your child needs.

Contact:  Website: Phone: 077019 27741 Email:


Coconut medley

Rabiah is an NGO which sells a range of coconut products. There is coconut milk, coconut powder, coconut pickle, coconut hair mask, coconut honey, coconut soap, and more, all reasonably priced.

Rabiah also spreads information about the health benefits of using coconut. “I got interested in marketing coconut products because my thyroid problem vanished with coconut oil. We are also the only palm sugar brand in India. Palm sugar has a lot of therapeutic qualities,” says Nitin Goyal, CEO and founder of Rabiah, handing over a bottle. “And don’t eat honey from bees, have our coconut honey instead.” We try it and find it has a rich caramel taste.

Goyal says it is the Coconut Development Board which has been helping entrepreneurs set up enterprises involving coconut by providing machines and techniques. Altogether, the board has developed some 50 products from coconut by working with Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) in the southern states.

The Rabiah coconut range is also available on e-commerce sites, including Amazon. All the products are neatly and hygienically packed.

Contact: Website: Phone: 9350276162; 8800758890



Neem tableware

The wondrous neem tree is famous for its many medicinal qualities. While neem leaf and bark have been used for ages, neem wood is now gaining in popularity. It is being shaped into kitchenware. Since 2010, Tora Creations, a micro-enterprise in east Delhi, has been manufacturing spoons, spatulas, platters, bowls, coasters and other serve ware. Tora also sells razors, toothbrushes, tongue cleaners, combs and bottle cleaners made of neem wood.

“Ours is a family business,” says Siddharth Gola. “We never cut trees. We buy all our neem wood from Chhattisgarh from forests where trees have been sustainably harvested.” Neem products sold especially well during the coronavirus pandemic and exports have been picking up. You can buy online and for Delhi customers a home delivery option is available.

Contact: Website: Phone: +91 8048983022 Email:


Puppets and lampshades

Interested in quirky puppets? Dalavai Kullayaapa, an artist from Nimmalakunta, a remote village in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh, makes and sells bright, attractive puppets fashioned from translucent leather. In the old days such puppets were used to perform Tholu Bommalata, a traditional form of shadow puppetry in Andhra performed by itinerant artistes.

You can buy puppets in sizes ranging from one foot to six feet. The main characters from the epics are available along with a range of animals — tigers, snakes, camels and elephants. The puppets are made from goat leather and natural dyes are used.

Dalavai Kullayaapa, with his brothers and 50 artisans, also produces paintings, lampshades, wall hangings and even leather jewellery. The vibrant paintings depict scenes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagvata Purana.

Contact: Website: Phone: +91 9959309029



Delightful sip

Manipur’s sylvan villages have within their folds a wealth of biodiversity which is slowly vanishing from its landscape and fading from memory. How to save it all? Elizabeth Yamben thought of an idea: convert it into teas. A former investment banker who’d worked in London and Singapore, she put in her savings to start a small business in 2017 called Dweller with the tagline ‘for the simple joys’, employing local women.

The infusions are unusual and rejuvenating. There is a tea made from spiced hog plum, an indigenous fruit good for fatigue and bloating, and Nong-mang-kha ginger green which helps combat cough and cold. Another bestseller is green tea with lotus leaf and Fruity Roselle Olive, an uplifting infusion which you can drink hot or cold.

Yamben works with a cheerful team of 21 women. Headquartered in Imphal, they source their plants from surrounding villages and 10 percent of profits is ploughed back into conserving indigenous plants.

Contact: Website: Phone: +91 8730003033



Rustic wool

India’s rich tradition in wool is fading from memory. For centuries pastoral communities sheared wool from sheep and sold it to spinners, creating a seamless cottage industry of dyers and weavers. Today, India spends `2,000 crore annually importing wool while local wool goes waste.  No effort has been made to modernize local wool.

Desi Oon, an initiative by rangSutra and the Centre for Pastoralism, is trying to reverse this decline. It brings together India’s best crafts organizations — Khamir in Gujarat, Avani from Uttarakhand, Aana-Jaana in Himachal Pradesh and others to revive the entire supply chain of traditional wool.

You can buy beautiful warm jackets, durries, coats,

blankets from Desi Oon.

Contact: Website: Phone: 011 2649 4145 Email:


Earthy skin

First Water Solutions offers a range of natural cosmetic products from solid perfumes and face scrubs to body lotions and serums. Their Pure 21 Face Serum is a non-greasy, water-based serum. It is a combination of 21 flowers, fruits and herbs. Also available is Pure 21 Face Oil for those with dry skin. Their solid perfumes come in several unusual fragrances like musk mint, pine and cedar. These formulations are a combination of ancient remedies and modern research.

First Water Solutions’ products are plant-based and vegan. No artificial chemicals, parabens, alcohol, synthetic colours, petrochemicals or gluten are used. Their products are not tested on animals either. Their belief is that nature can provide for all personal care needs.

Contact: Website: Phone: +91 9958211228



Himalayan bounty

The Inhere Aajivika Utthan Samiti (IAUS), an NGO in Almora district of Uttarakhand, runs a successful non-profit, Himalayan Fresh, which supports and promotes agricultural produce grown by women farmers on their terraced farms. The difficult terrain makes it tough for farmers to reach urban markets.

Himalayan Fresh doesn’t impose new crops on farmers but helps them to improve agricultural practices and boost yields. Surplus produce is picked up by Himalayan Fresh for processing, packaging and marketing.  The objective is to empower women farmers, transform agriculture into a viable livelihood and bring economic security to small farmers in the hills.

Himalayan Fresh works with 2,000 farmers. They are certified as organic. 

Himalayan Fresh offers consumers a range of natural and fresh foods. They sell pickles, jams, concentrates, pastes and chutneys, spices, pulses and cereals along with herbs and teas. The teas on offer include tulsi-arjun, jamun-lemongrass, brahmi-saunf and more, which soothe health conditions like diabetes, chronic cold and digestive issues.

Contact: Himalayan Fresh Phone: 09675449003, 8958519912



Seed or flower?

Abracadabra! You can create magic too. Plant a pencil, sprinkle some water and watch it grow into marigold flowers. Seed Paper India sells wedding cards, pencils, calendars, price tags and visiting cards made from plantable seed paper. You can even just buy sheets of seed paper from them.

Are you a Ganesh devotee? Seed Paper India offers a Plantable Seed Ganesha. Place the Ganesh on top of a tray of soil and pour some water every day whilst chanting your prayers. In two to four weeks a plant will sprout. A six-inch Plantable Ganesha is available for `490 and an eight-inch one for `90.

The Seed Paper team works with printers to customize designs on their paper products. Wedding cards are priced at `50 each. Seed Paper also offers recycled handmade paper. And a pack of magical seed pencils comes for `24.

Contact: Website: Phone: +91 6364699837



Cane comfort

Makon Home makes furniture and other products from rattan cane and bamboo. Pooja Moirangthem founded Makon Home to market cane products handwoven by women in Manipur. You can get blue and green outdoor cane chairs and tables as well as bamboo baskets, trays, planters and laundry baskets. Also available are handwoven and hand-dyed cotton bedsheets, curtains, throws, dupattas and cushion covers. One can also place bulk orders for cane baskets and boxes.


Website: Phone: +91 9810306264 Email:



Smell divine

Niyor makes perfumes that are natural and unusual. Founded by Ishan Bhasin in 2019, Niyor’s perfumes are made from essential oils and are free of chemicals and alcohol. Niyor means dew drops in Assamese. Bhasin has invented a range of fragrances. Take your pick from Jasmine, Mint Chocolate, Onyx, Lavender, Allure Rose, or Lime Fresh. Some perfumes are named after places like Nicobar, a perfume with complex notes, or Alexandria. You can get a set of five perfumes for just `500. Or you can get your own perfume made by giving Niyor a call. What’s more, all the perfumes are packed in pocket-sized bottles so you can slip one into your bag and spread fragrance wherever you go.

Contact: Website: Phone: +91 9874362633



Soft toys and more

Deepa Pant, an alumnus of NIFT, started Svatanya to help empower underprivileged women by upskilling them to make handcrafted products. The aim is to train the women and help them gain financial independence and self-reliance. You can buy soft toys, bottle covers, cloth masks, and wall hangings ranging from `300 to `2,000. They also offer earrings, bracelets and necklaces made from cloth. Svatanya runs an initiative that distributes soft toys to underprivileged terminally ill patients and children with disabilities living in slums and hospitals.

Contact: Website: Phone: +91 95607 03555



Northeast specials

Fear not the big bad city. Armed with the world’s hottest chilli, the famed bhutjholokia of Northeast fame, you can whoosh away evil intent. We spied this deadly pepper spray powered by bhutjholokia at the annual Tribal Mela in Dilli Haat. It is manufactured by the Northeast Farm Sales Promotion, a social enterprise based in Guwahati. This pocket-sized weapon costs `400.

The company aggregates and distributes unique organic products from the seven states of the Northeast. “We go deep into villages and request them to grow local organic products which we know will sell. The biggest problem small growers face is lack of marketing. We provide that,” says Joseph Lalrofel, sales representative, ensconced in his small store.

There are natural room fresheners imbued with cinnamon and lemongrass as well as packs of black rice, bay leaf powder, pepper, cardamom, pickles and, of course, red hot chillis. You can place your order on the TRIFED website and they will soon also be available on Amazon.

Contact: Northeast Farm Sales Promotion Website:



Painting the jungle

Baiga art is bright and beautiful and looks fabulous on a wall. “It’s our traditional craft and we love doing it. But the money we earn is not enough,” rues Amar Baiga, looking lost amidst his paintings in the din of the Tribal Mela.

He and his brother, Sushil, live in a forest village on the outskirts of the Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh. “We are a collective of 10 artists. Whatever we earn is divided amongst us,” says Amar. They need to find ways of earning more, he says. A new addition are attractive masks made of papier mache and wood. There are paintings of their village, animals, plants and trees. The Baigas worship nature. They wouldn’t like to paint the city landscape. It’s completely alien to them, explains Amar. The two brothers spend more than half the year working as agricultural labour.

Contact: Amar Baiga, Phone: 7806062516 Email:


Warm and cosy

Project Purkul is a cloth-based handicrafts collective based in Purkul village near Mussoorie in Uttarakhand. The women artisans here are masters at applique, patchwork and quilting. The initiative aims to bring a balanced blend of comfort and beauty to personal accessories and is committed to product quality, design and long-term sustainable value.

A range of colourful products with pretty motifs is on offer. For your home there are quilts, table runners and buntings. For your kitchen, you can buy oven mitts, tea cosies and aprons. There are baby quilts and play-mats for children and backpacks, diaries and bottle-covers for adults. Project Purkul even has accessories for your pets. Their ‘paw purpose’ section on their website offers a delightful variety of soft beds and playmats for furry members of the family!

Contact: Website:




Bliss with jaggery

Instead of white refined sugar try healthier options made with organic jaggery and honey.  Founded by Apeksha Grover Bagga, Doree offers Desi Khand which is made by evaporating sugarcane syrup without removing the molasses, Paan Gulkand made with honey, Real Gud Cocoa, Gud Sattu, Gud Chai Masala and more. These are all made from grandmother recipes. You can also buy dried rose leaves and moringa leaves. The organic jaggery powder costs `125 and the other jaggery-based products are priced at `300.

Contact:  Website: Phone: +91 92058 67294



Vegan spreads and snacks

Peepal Farm rescues animals and runs an organic farm in Dhanotu village in Himachal Pradesh. Started in December 2014 by Robin Singh, Joellen Anderson and Shivani Bhalla, Peepal Farm’s main focus is improvement of animal life. They started Peepal Farm Products to spread awareness about animal welfare. You can buy vegan spreads, snacks, body care and pet care products straight from the hills.

The three founders of Peepal Farm believe in reducing consumerism and even encourage you not to buy their products and instead use their recipes posted online. But if you don’t have the time for that, they assure you that buying from them means minimizing waste and packaging and engineering profits that go towards saving animals.Their vegan bar and spreads range from `80 to `220. You can also buy handcrafted jewellery, upcycled products and home accessories.

Contact: Website: Phone: +91 9805668368 



Stitches of love

Devotion is an apt name for a shop that sells products lovingly made by rural women in Haryana. You can buy sheets, towels, curtains and table linen for your home, beautifully hand embroidered and neatly stitched. For babies there are frocks, quilts, sweaters and more, all soft and cuddly. For women there are attractive kurtas, nightwear and saris with stylish embroidery and patterns.

Devotion is a unit of the Arpana Trust which works to improve health, education and the livelihood of marginalised people in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi’s slums. Over 2,000 women have been organised into Self-Help Groups (SHG), trained and linked to banks. Arpana markets their products and Devotion provides a steady source of income to thousands of families.

Arpana runs a multispecialty hospital in Karnal. In Molarband slum of Delhi, a team of Delhi’s best doctors provides healthcare at its clinic. Arpana is committed to providing selfless service to all, as propagated by its founder and inspiration, Param Pujya Ma.   

Contact: Devotion, Phone: 011- 24331136, 9871284847 Email:


Snow leopards, yaks

Have you seen animals from snowy Ladakh in warm Delhi? Of course not. But you could catch a glimpse of small lifelike replicas of wildlife from icy Ladakh at a Ladakh Festival held at Dilli Haat. There were blue sheep, snow leopards, yaks, marmots, mountain rabbits and more — all made of sheep wool, warm to touch and inexpensively priced.

These doll-like animals are made by a self-help group (SHG) of women in the picturesque village of Rumbak located in the high altitude Hemis National Park, 32 km from Leh.

“When our women aren’t busy tending to their fields of barley, wheat and vegetables, they stitch these,” explains Lobsang Namgiyal, their sales representative. The women were taught to make animal models by an international development agency. “Whatever they earn is put into their SHG corpus to spend on a group activity,” says Stanzin Jigstal who runs a homestay.

The critically endangered snow leopard prowls around Rumbak village and the Hemis National Park in search of blue sheep, its natural prey. You can trek through the lovely park and if you are lucky catch a glimpse of the elusive snow leopard as well as the splendid black-necked crane. Rumbak has a number of homestays.

Contact: Lobsang Namgiyal, Phone: 9622994092

Address: Village Rumbak, District Leh – 194101


Unique rice

India is undergoing a rice revolution in long forgotten rice varieties. Farmers are keen to grow traditional varieties and consumers are happy to buy. They are also healthier and more eco-friendly than tasteless modern hybrids.

So gift your family and friends a box of unique rice varieties from Centre for Indian Knowledge Systems (CIKS). You can take your pick from four kinds of boxes: the Luxury Collection, Mother and Child Collection, the Red Collection and the Aromatic Collection.

The Luxury Collection has six types of rice: Mappilai Samba which is rich in fibre and iron, Kitchili Samba, an everyday rice easy-to-digest, Kuzhiadichan, which is rich in antioxidants, Karunkuruvai, used by Siddha practitioners to treat illnesses, Seerage Samba, an aromatic variety rich in iron, and Kullakar, a rice with low glycemic index, high in iron and antioxidants.

CIKS has been reviving traditional rice varieties of Tamil Nadu by working with farmer producer companies. The rice they grow is sold by Sempulam Sustainable Solutions, a company that markets and packages gift packs of traditional rice.

You can place your order from Sempulam on their website Or buy through Amazon and Flipkart.

Contact:  Website : Phone: 91-044-42188011

Email: /


Arty puzzles

Froggmag sells folk, tribal and miniature art jigsaw puzzles. Run by Shalini Ghosh, an alumnus of the National Institute of Design (NID), FroggMag promotes Indian art through engaging games. The toddler puzzles cost between `500 and `600 and come in a set of six. The puzzles in two or four pieces are easy for a child to put together.

FroggMag also has 63-piece puzzles, priced at `600, that include Santhal art, Kalighat Pat and Madhubani, among others. The games are designed by women folk artists who learnt the art forms from their families and tribes. There are other memory-based games like mix and match puzzles available as well. In the catalogue are also pretty and colourful scarves and earrings priced between `500 and `2,000.

Contact: Website: Phone: +91 9811408313



Art in every corner

Some Fine Handicrafts has tables, trays, lamps and furniture with beautiful art work. You can buy a tray with a Madhubani painting, a table with intricate zardozi work, a shoe cabinet with the loveliest Warli etchings and stylish lamps with Gond art.

Ramachandran Nair, a zardozi expert, started this enterprise about a decade ago. “The idea is to imbue articles we use every day with traditional Indian art. Paintings don’t have to only decorate our walls,” he says.

Nair has a workshop in Delhi which employs 16 skilled artisans who needed to get back on their feet in the aftermath of the pandemic.

He travels to villages in 16 states to pick up works of art. “Some of my artists have disability. Most don’t want to travel to Delhi. So I go to them,” he says.

The paintings are brought to the workshop and integrated into classy products. The wood used is termite-proof and the designs are eye-catching. “I am selling timeless art. You can use it for years. If the artwork on your lamp or tray gets spoilt, I can repair it,” he says. If you want to gift one of his products, he can pack it and send it.

Contact: Website: Phone: +91 9891591931



Goatskin Guitar

Tsering Angchuk is a musician from Changtang in Ladakh. Sitting inside his stall at Dilli Haat, he strums a traditional tune on a colourful local guitar with six strings. Pleased with the small audience he has attracted, he plays another tune — this time with an instrument which has three strings and resembles a violin. Both instruments are made of goatskin and painted with bright floral motifs. “I learnt from a musician in another village around 20 years ago,” he says. “I have played for All India Radio and I have a repertoire of around 70 songs.”

Angchuk says he plays for all celebratory occasions. It could be a wedding, a festival or a birthday party. A traditional dance called jabro cannot begin without his guitar and violin, he says. Ladakh has a rich tradition of folk music played on very old indigenous instruments. But, as disco replaces jabro, the region’s music and dance tradition begins to fade away.  Local people lose interest and since the remuneration is very little just a few musicians are left. Angchuk is unfazed. He says that if people don’t want to listen, it’s okay. He plays at night for himself. 

Contact: Tsering Angchuk – 9469360136


Art and a story

Patachitra is Bengal’s traditional art of scroll painting, still largely done with natural colours. Patuas or chitrakars are a community of folk artists who are painters, lyricists and singers all rolled into one. While their paintings are called patachitra, the songs they sing that  narrate the stories on the scrolls are called poter gaan. This vibrant and colourful oral-visual art form dates back to the 13th century., a social enterprise which works with traditional artistes has organised the chitrakars, helped them make their artwork contemporary, found them markets and boosted their income. Pingla village in West Midnapore is the best-known patachitra hub. Incomes of the chitrakars living in Pingla have increased to `30,000- `40,000 per month. In the old days, the chitrakars painted scrolls on traditional themes like tales from the Ramayana and Dashavatar (the 10 incarnations of the Hindu god Vishnu) and of Muslim saints.  Now they produce their artwork on a range of products — coasters, bottles, saris, T-shirts and more. Patachitra is also being used by the government for social awareness campaigns.

Contact: Website: Swarna Chitrakar, Phone: 9732799107  

Manoranjan Chitrakar, Phone:  9732731776


Wooden games, trinkets

Shikha Shah makes and sells colourful wooden games, trinkets and even repurposed car tyres. Shah began Scrapshala in 2016, learning from her mother’s example of waste management in an Indian household. They started by selling painted beer bottles to local cafes and now sell upcycled and eco-friendly products, handcrafted by local artisans in and around Varanasi. Scrapshala offers wooden games, utensils, home decor and stationery. They also sell housekeeping products and brushes made from coconut fibre. Scrapshala has eco-friendly alternatives to daily lifestyle products like razors, paper pencils, and dish washing scrubs. In home decor one can buy repurposed glass bottles, cassettes as pen stands, and wooden mats.

Contact: Website: Phone: +91 7411079110



Upcycled décor

Get handpainted decor, stationery and items for festivities while supporting the women in Delhi’s Ghazipur slum community. Gulmeher strives to provide an alternative and sustainable livelihood for the women waste pickers in Ghazipur by creating eco-friendly products using discarded flowers and recycled paper. Since 2013 they have trained 120 women as skilled artisans, given 35 women employment in their East Ghazipur centre, and skilled 20 women in embroidery and stitching. You can get stitched notebooks made with recycled paper, coasters made out of newspapers, wall hangings and fridge magnets. You can also get handmade bags, boxes and cards for gifting.

Contact: Website: Phone: +91 9310503175





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