CRC Exports Private Limited

Craft Resource Center (CRC Exports Private Limited) helps informally organized artisan groups to develop self-sustaining businesses. CRC seeks to develop economic self-sufficiency for a vulnerable segment of society through traditional handcrafting skills. CRC provides marketing, design, finance and exporting assistance to a large number of artisan groups across India. CRC also provides raw materials, production coordination between groups and additional training. CRC considers artisans more important than products. This concern for artisans translates into a broader commitment to help others within the CRC network. Because of CRC’s coordination of craft production between different artisan groups, artisans have a high level of connectedness and cooperation. Artisan groups have been able to work together in partnership in times of need.Ten Thousand Villages has purchased products from CRC since 1993.

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Creating Heirloom Treasures

Israfil, master craftsman with Zordozi Original, a workshop of handicraft marketing organization CRC Exports in Kolkata, India, embroiders the Heirloom Tree of Life Wall Hanging sold in Ten Thousand Villages stores and online.



Israfil has been doing skilled embroidery for the past 15 years, having learned from a master craftsman himself. The art of embroidery is practiced throughout Israfil’s village, and is a way of life for the artisans. He hopes that his young son, now only 4 years old, will grow up to carry on this craft tradition, having been surrounded by it. Many of the complex designs originated in the Mughal period, when artisans used embroidery to decorate the ornate costumes of the elite class.



Zordozi Original has been working with CRC Exports for the past five years. Artisans of this group create both simple decorative embroidery and the more complex textured embroidery found in pieces such as our Heirloom Tree of Life hanging. Both men and women work on the embroidery, although it is the men who create the most complex pieces—works of art that require enormous amounts of time to complete.

Gems from Rajasthan

Ten Thousand Villages recently introduced an exquisite necklace and earrings set from Rajasthan (item 6838630). Set with black onyx lined with garnets, the pieces are created by Uma Enterprises, a workshop of the Craft Resource Center (CRC) in Calcutta, India. The following is from a report by Irani Sen, director of CRC.



Craft Resource Center (CRC) works with a wide range of traditional and modern arts and crafts in India. Among artisan groups producing exquisite products, Uma Enterprises based in Jaipur in Rajasthan sparkles like a precious gem.



Uma Enterprises was started by Mr. Satyanarayan Agarwal in 1980. With his strong aptitude and skill in designing jewelry, Agarwal and two other artisans started their business in a humble way, in their native Jaipur in the state of Rajasthan—known as the most colorful state in India.



The group, which started with only two artisans, has now become a group of 50 skilled artisans. Uma Enterprises has become well known in India and beyond for its novelty in jewelry design and for its workmanship. The group’s pieces are a fusion of traditional and modern motifs. This traditional craft of Rajasthan enjoys equal distinction with Rajasthan’s other folk arts, such as Sanganer block print, tie dye and home décor embedded with mirror work.



Uma’s artisans range from 20 to 40 years of age, and they are able to earn much more than artisans producing other crafts in India. The semiprecious stones used in their jewelry are obtained in Jaipur, which has a well-developed market for the stones. Some of the silversmiths in the group have learned their craft from experts in the field, while for others, the skill has been passed down through generations.



As a strong believer in fair trade practices, Agarwal continues to improve artisan benefits, giving priority to a larger work space, health and accident insurance and a pension plan. The group’s environmentally focused norms have brought them additional acclaim. Agarwal has also focused on exposing artisans to new designs through their attendance at workshops. Uma Enterprises also plans to build up their stock of silver, to protect themselves from unsteady market prices.



On behalf of CRC, I wish a big success and prosperous business ventures to Uma Enterprises.

Irani Sen's Story

Irani Sen graduated from university in 1966 with a physics degree. Though she dreamed of becoming the next Madam Curie, her parents had other plans for her. They arranged her marriage in 1966 and she was forbidden from continuing her studies. In 1970, when her son began school, Irani began to get involved in social work with an emphasis on economic self-sufficiency for disadvantaged women. Irani started working full time on the issue when her husband threw her out of her home. Since then, Irani has been inspired to work to help others by providing independent consultation to foundations and alternative trade organizations. In the late 80s, Irani began working with the Craft Resource Center (CRC) to provide assistance to artisans.



CRC helps informally organized artisan groups to develop businesses by providing product development, marketing, finance and export assistance to 15 individual groups involving approximately 15,000 artisans. CRC staff see the organization as a partner in artisans’ work and growth – they assist the groups where assistance is appropriate and try to steer artisans to local markets as much as possible. Within her broader work, Sen also works as an independent consultant for socio-economic development with 350 projects
in Asia.



Sen said, “The best thing fair trade gives [artisans] is the continuity of work… and with the continuity comes the basic security... With that security they can develop, they can plan and then we try to motivate them for education, health [and] education for their children.”



Sen continued, “Think twice before you buy anything… to make sure what you buy benefits somebody. So, you take a few seconds more when you go for your shopping and find the right product at the right place… That goes a long way.”

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