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Crafts, Culture, Conversations and Us

This is our birthday month and while we reflect back on our journey, ponder and make preparations to steer ourselves forward, I thought it is only prudent to share with our readers, our story as well as our direction and path for the journey going forward.

Our journey so far

When we started in the monsoons of 2014, we just knew one thing and that was, we wanted to write. Write about places we loved, things we would love to have in our homes, clothes that fascinated us, food that made our endorphins go mad, yoga, pranayama and ways to stay healthy and happy in this world.  We wrote and we wrote and then many, many months later, we found our niche.

How we stepped into the world of Handmade?

I remember it being a fine day in the winters of 2014, when we decided to wander off to Dastkar, with the idea of finding some sort of a ‘different’ pressie for a cousin. We had often been to the likes of Suraj Kund and Dilli Haat,  but the experience this time was extra ordinarily surreal! We found the artisans very eager to tell us their story, the story of their paintings, of their work, all this without the  ‘hard selling’ element. This is when we decided to write about this wonderful, talented bunch. I suppose we owe an enormous ‘Thank you’ to Dastkar for helping us find our soul story.

The more artisans and weavers we met, the stronger our intent became to write about them; to help spread the word that buying handmade wasn’t just for the ‘arty’ kinds of people and most importantly it didn’t have to always cost an arm and a leg!! Thus, began our adventure in the handmade world.

Our direction going forward

At school, we all repeatedly recited the ‘Indian Pledge’ every single day and it began this way.  ‘India is my country. I am proud of its rich and varied heritage….’. I reckon not many of us understood the enormity of this line; our crafts, the traditions and our culture are part of our very rich heritage, and the pledge from our school days makes complete sense today.

Culture and crafts simply don’t exist in isolation but are closely intertwined with the lives of communities, of their food and their work. All celebrations across communities focus on limitless amounts of food preparation, families and friends sitting together in large numbers, devouring that food, perhaps even exchanging some goodies, all dressed in their fineries, laughing, arguing and creating memories… and thus passing on these ‘celebration rituals’ to the next generation.

Whether it’s a festivity that comes up every now and again, reminding us of our culture and our rich heritage, or it’s simply a normal mundane day, the fact that crafts and culture need to be celebrated is key to our (notjustashopper’s) existence and we promise to do it with gigantic portions of love and style. Going forward, we will be focussing on Crafts and Culture and the Conversations that help the stories reach out to you, our very valuable readers.

It is an honour and a privilege to have people interested in reading what we write and we are eternally grateful. Thank you for your company so far and we, at notjustashopper, hope to go rummaging for stories from both near and far along with you.

How can you support the Crafts sector?

Over the last few years, I have had the privilege to meet several artisans and have learnt a little bit more about their lives. The fact that they would rather live in their own communities instead of trekking up to over-crowded cities searching for work is obvious. So, the question is what can we, as buyers and supporters do to help them achieve this?

Buying directly from the artisans or the weavers is the most straightforward way. This can be a beautiful process, if you take the time to listen to the story behind the creation as well as the artist’s inspiration.

Buying isn’t possible all the time, so even if not buying, do help spread the word about a handmade event or an artist on social media; make them famous.  Take the time to visit the exhibitions and fairs. Arrange coffee mornings and host someone from the handmade brigade…there are many, many ways to let the world know about these talented individuals; just find the way that works best for you.

Own the Crafts that are embedded into the fabric of India, celebrate our Culture and rituals over umpteen cups of chai and ever-ending conversations; Be Notjustashopper!

Nupur & Shilpa