Handmade Gifts are the Best Kind As Each Piece Will Be Unique. But Better Yet are Handcrafted Gifts That Come with a Social Purpose (2021)

Handmade Gifts are the Best Kind As Each Piece Will Be Unique. But Better Yet are Handcrafted Gifts That Come with a Social Purpose (2021)

If you have an eye for creative, intricate and artistic things you will love Indha - a company that offers handcrafted and handmade products. With each product being handcrafted to perfection, you will find the perfect gift in no time! Take a look.

India's Rich History of Handcrafted Products

Indian handicrafts reflect the cultural heritage and ethnicities of the artisans. To this day, handcrafted items remain the main source of livelihood for most of the Indian rural population who have managed to keep the traditional arts and skills alive. Indian handcrafted products are sought after worldwide for their intricate designs and beautiful craft despite the changes in technology and availability of advanced machinery. Block printing, ceramics, pottery, embroidery, Madhubani, zari, papercraft, bamboo, cane, woodwork and marble handicrafts are a few of the various handicraft skills practiced in the country. With a plethora of options to choose from, buying Indian handicrafts is truly a shopper’s paradise.

What Gives Handmade Gifts an Edge: Unique Designs and Excellent Quality

Source indha.in

What comes to mind when you think of handmade products? Indha offers a wide range of products from a variety of bags, furnishings, to trendy apparel. The exclusive designs of the products and extensive quality checks make all the products at par with any others available in the market. The use of bio-degradable raw materials and extensive recycling of all waste material makes Indha products even more desirable. By purchasing a handmade product, we contribute towards Indha’s social cause and bring home a beautifully handcrafted product. Read on to find out more about the story of Indha and how it has empowered countless women to become self-sufficient by honing their talent and skills and showcasing their creations to the world.

Indha, Empowering and Uplifting Women

Our country is filled with talented people but the majority of them, especially the women in rural areas are not able to make a livelihood out of it due to a lack of opportunity and means. This is where Indha comes into the picture. Founded by Capt. Indraani Singh, the first woman in Asia to fly the Airbus 320, Indha is a sister concern of Literacy India and together they are devoted to empowering marginalized women, training them and making them self-sufficient. At Indha centers, women create unique products using traditional techniques like block printing. Indha provides sustainable livelihood opportunities for women, who otherwise suffer at the hands of a patriarchal society and the regressive mindset of their families.

I made sure that people picked up our product saying, 'Oh wow, this is a great product,' and not because 'we should help them'.

Capt. Indraani Singh, Founder, Indha and Literacy India

Interview with Capt. Indraani Singh: The Story of Indha’s Journey

Founder of Literacy India and Indha
Capt. Indraani Singh
Capt. Indraani Singh is the founder of Literacy India and Indha. Indha is the brand name for the women empowerment program of Literacy India. The company design, customise a wide variety of handmade products for events conferences, weddings, gifts, corporate giving, birthdays etc.
BP Guide

Interviewer BP Guide

Please can you tell us about yourself and your background.
Capt. Indraani Singh

Founder of Literacy India and Indha Capt. Indraani Singh

I am, professionally, a pilot and I have been working with Air India for over 30 years. 25 years ago, I started this non-profit called Literacy India. Then in 2005 we started Indha because while training the women we found that they were not able to find a market for themselves and they needed help. I was exposed to several companies and I could talk about their work, their talent and their craft and could connect them to livelihood generation. They were already creating these beautiful things and all I had to do was bring it out and showcase it in front of the world. Since then, it’s been carrying on and we are evolving. It is always evolving.
BP Guide

Interviewer BP Guide

So what led you to create Indha? Was it because of a need that arose from Literacy India?
Capt. Indraani Singh

Founder of Literacy India and Indha Capt. Indraani Singh

Literacy India is the motherlode. We train women on multiple things right from beautician courses, stitching, embroidery, candle making, organic farming etc. Now they are also into coding, hardware.

We found that the population of illiterates was high but they had talent. They had this urge to learn and do something. Since we started Indha, many women have started sending their children to schools. They have saved for healthcare, have even helped their own family including their husbands, some of whom were very violent with them. This empowered them to do more.

Indha is a ring of responsibility. When I was working in villages, I found women were carrying water on a cloth ring. That gave the idea that on a cloth ring a woman can carry so much responsibility so we decided to name it Indha. It has become a symbol for most of the women who relate to it as it is identical to doing something, making something of themselves and empowering themselves.
BP Guide

Interviewer BP Guide

What led you to start Literacy India?
Capt. Indraani Singh

Founder of Literacy India and Indha Capt. Indraani Singh

Many educated professionals when they grow and succeed in their profession and if they have the intent to do more for the country or community, they either contribute to a cause or become a volunteer. When I became a commander on Airbus-300 in the year 1995, got name and fame being the world's first on this aircraft, I felt there is something more I needed to do. After trying few things in the community, the universe planned for me to end up starting this journey, and education is the best tool I felt for economic growth for anyone, that is where we felt we needed to start and it evolved to 4Es. Our first girl child whom we sent to school is now happily married and has become a software programmer.
BP Guide

Interviewer BP Guide

How did you go about setting up training centres?
Capt. Indraani Singh

Founder of Literacy India and Indha Capt. Indraani Singh

While working under Literacy India, we decided to explore areas that are not being touched by any corporate or the government, the backward areas. While doing this, we found tribal lands, barren lands where there is water scarcity. There was no opportunity in remote areas of Rajasthan and West Bengal. On the other hand, while operating in Delhi and NCR, we realized that we had to grow roots over here because the buyers are in the metros. That is why we set up shop here in the city and they do the warehousing there.

So, these are actually mixed centres wherein Indha women come and work and, at the same time Literacy India conducts training. With time and through word of mouth, we came to be known across many villages. We have also reached out to many villages. We found there is so much talent and it just needs to be brought out and showcased.
BP Guide

Interviewer BP Guide

Where are these centres at the moment, in which states?
Capt. Indraani Singh

Founder of Literacy India and Indha Capt. Indraani Singh

Our areas are Jhalawar and the neighbouring villages in Rajasthan. The main centre is in Manohar Thana and from there on we moved on setting up small units all across that area.

In West Bengal, it is Purulia, if you have heard of arms drop. We started making small centres all across this forest area. So, in the middle of the jungle, you will find a few of our centres wherein all the tribals are trained. We had a lot of problems initially with motivating them, counselling them. Eventually being there, things changed and now this tribal art is quite world famous. They came out and started doing the work. We see hangings in temples and their photo frames, posters and all the embroidery which you see all around the villages of India. Also, now we have taken up the area of Bokaro, the forest land that extends between Purulia and Jharkhand. It is just adjacent so we started expanding from there.
BP Guide

Interviewer BP Guide

The products which are being sold through Indha, are they coming only from centres set up through Literacy India or do you also give a platform to other tribals whom you have not trained?
Capt. Indraani Singh

Founder of Literacy India and Indha Capt. Indraani Singh

See, the expansion also took place because the community reached out to us, it was not just one way that we decided and set up shop. The community reached out to us and our expansions primarily happened because they found a group or a set that began working very well. They reached out and called us to say that please help us over here, my child needs to go to school or we need a stitching centre. They would come up and they would say, you know, take up our rooms and please set up something. The local panchayats were also quite helpful. That’s how we expanded. Going through Literacy India, we have planned everything and the whole strategy is in place. Taking up help through Literacy India is easy for Indha otherwise we will be spending a lot of money in growing the business.
BP Guide

Interviewer BP Guide

Like you said earlier, even now there is still a lot that needs to be done but at the time you started out 30 years ago, what were the early challenges you faced?
Capt. Indraani Singh

Founder of Literacy India and Indha Capt. Indraani Singh

Early challenges were, if you are going in a remote area, you cannot set up shop that easily. I remember an episode in Haryana. That area as seen now and what it was earlier, there were no roads, first of all. So, I used to drive in my car in these areas. There was no security. They never had water, the water tube wells were in the outskirts of the villages. And they were too deep into the caste system.

So, these were the set of challenges because whenever we put up our training camp here women would not turn up during that time. They would not adhere to the schedule, because either they were cooking or they were going to get water; the timings were not matching when they have to do work or house chores. Then this training centre had an electricity issue, we never had electricity in that area so there were a lot of power cuts and the roads were very bad.

Two villages adjacent to each other would not go to the other village even if it was just a few steps on the other side. Why? Because the lower caste would not sit with the normal caste people. So, initially, we had to face a lot of problems in empowering women. All of them needed help, they were being beaten up in the family, the dowry system, and female infanticide were very high. We could easily find out from people that a daughter went missing. You know all these horrifying stories led to demotivation in all these women. They would tell me what will happen even if I am learning something, how is it going to give me revenue.

Which was a fact, because there was no connection to the city, there was no connection to the outside world. To create a market, I once organized a very big event and I called some corporates to come into the village. It was quite a tough task but I persuaded them to come over and it was a big event for the village folks. It was very close to the main town of Gurgaon but that village did not have any proper road and the corporates told me where have you called us. Somehow they did come, but when they saw the products that the villagers had made they said this kind of things can be found by the roadside, it has no value. This is too ordinary and nobody will buy if you take it to a shop.

That was the day I realised that there was something big which we had to do. Then I hired experts to help us with product design and production and since then we have come a long way. We are now in fashion apparel, beautiful bags, and the furnishing range is huge. We make soft toys and travel bags, we have our own waste paper recycling unit that was set up in 2010. The paper we are churning out is not only used in our school but we also make a lot of handmade diaries, it’s very popular among the corporates.

It took me a lot of time and a lot of hard work in order to explain to the people the story behind it. Of course, for the finishing, I have had to really work hard with the women. I had to be very strict, I had to show them on the computer what is being made in the market and what is their product and what I was told, that your product is too ordinary. So, they attended plenty of workshops which we conducted, we called people from outside to tell them that you can do it. All those workshops were needed and now Indha, if I match it with Fab India, is doing much better as far as the work is concerned, the quality is concerned.

BP Guide

Interviewer BP Guide

What kept you going through this time in spite of all these difficulties, to put in all that work and then to be told that this work that you were doing has no value?
Capt. Indraani Singh

Founder of Literacy India and Indha Capt. Indraani Singh

If you work hard, things come around and the taste of success is extremely sweet. The women did cry a lot because of the number of products I have rejected if the finishing was not right. But they respected that I was standing by them and telling them to do it over and over again. And the revenue they earned and how it helped their family is something which they remember.

In the past, whenever they would come to Indha centre, their parents, or in-laws would jibe at them and be sarcastically asking them what are you going to do? With the two pennies you will make how are you going to make a change in your own family? Now things have changed.

Now it is a matter of prestige and dignity for them. I had taken these women out on an aircraft ride, then I had taken them to the Taj Mahal when they had never even stepped out of the village before. This actually, you know, kept the bonding intact. The change is something that is a big high for me and that is what keeps me going.
BP Guide

Interviewer BP Guide

You have already come a long way with both your ventures, what is it that you are trying to achieve now?
Capt. Indraani Singh

Founder of Literacy India and Indha Capt. Indraani Singh

In the past we were trying to be successful. Indha has now become a complete enterprise and in that, we have reached a point wherein whatever revenue is being earned is ploughed back into the system wherein more women are being trained. We created a cycle. Now, this is where the graph is going up.

Now we want to make it really successful wherein enough money is there to self-sustain ourselves. We can do our training and we are able to make more profit for healthcare, be able to start a healthcare scheme for the women or keep a deposit for them so that they can send their child to school. Many young ladies who got married may need money for family care. So, these are the things which I am looking at which are now under Literacy India because Literacy India is focused on education primarily and education of all sorts.

We have our children growing up to be software engineers and programmers. They are our in-house innovation which we have created which can be scaled up under Literacy India, and I plan it to be taken across the country because the basic education in our country sucks. This program which we have created, which is a 400 hours program, can help any illiterate and any NGO struggling the way I was struggling with it. So that is the vision for Literacy India and we continue doing our training and livelihood. I have segregated the women empowerment program into Indha which was earlier with Literacy India and to make it more robust and stronger, we need to have a better business. Then we can be self-sustained fully. That is the vision actually.

BP Guide

Interviewer BP Guide

Coming to Indha, what is the process of introducing the products. You mentioned you brought in a lot of people from outside to raise the standard of the products. Who does the designing?
Capt. Indraani Singh

Founder of Literacy India and Indha Capt. Indraani Singh

First of all, we make sure that we do not waste anything. That is the most important part of Indha as an organization wherein no paper is being wasted, no material is being wasted, no cloth is wasted. We make sure we recycle and that’s where the design comes in. I have personally designed a thousand, two thousand products. Where it came from, I have no idea. They say when things come on your head, you somehow look for a solution and it is not found anywhere outside, you start searching your own soul that ok you know I can do it too.

On the other hand, I have an art background, I have been a fine art student and somewhere that creativity came in quite handy. And I learnt a lot, educated myself besides flying. I learnt a lot from what other people are doing across the globe.

Europeans are a great inspiration for recycling and making new things. This is what we have also learnt, creating a different kind of cloth and as much eco-friendly and as much bio-degradable you can make a product. First, we make any kind of a product and then we decide if it is liked by the market or not. So, the initial 4-5 years went into a lot of research and trial, reverse engineering by buying a product and seeing as to how they are made, why it is such a quality, how the stitching is perfect, the kind of labels that should be there, how it should look, whether it will appeal to me or not.

So, on my international flights, I would go and see the shops and see the products for my own learning so that I can bring them back into the centres. And, we also keep exploring new experts and see whether women will be able to do it. Let’s say we are into travel products, travel bags and all. So, these travel bags are not easy to stitch in a normal machine, so we bought a new machine for instance. We needed to see whether a similar trade woman would be able to do justice to the product. So, the years of stitching actually made them quite an experienced craftsperson. So, those hits and trials with one machine led to more machines and then more machines and then more machines.

Like that we kept on going from that knowledge of baggage bags to clutch purses. The clutch purses what we used to make and the clutch purses that we are making now, there is a world of difference. So, I made sure that people picked up our product by saying oh wow this is a great product, not okay we should help them, not just that. I mean there is at the back of your mind that you can help them but you should also love the product which is more important to us. We have organised many Ecotourism festivals in the villages of our Artisans. This has led to the exposure for our village folks with the outside world and vice versa. We are selling the products on all the online platforms and we are still evolving and seeing what all products we can add.

In any company for gifting purposes, like a lot of travel companies, they want to gift something that is unique so they ask us what it is that you can offer and I am looking for something like this. So, we customize and it gives that kind of a handmade touch. So, our volumes are from the corporate world. So, all the gifting which is there in the companies, travel companies, event management companies, weddings, this is where the volume is and this is where they want quality finish and that is what we are matching to give it to them. From gifting, we try to make our ends meet. Design part we have designers come for an internship and we tell them the background, this is how you are supposed to work, this is what it is. I personally hired one more design person back from Purulia only because there are no opportunities.

BP Guide

Interviewer BP Guide

How do you ensure the quality of the products?
Capt. Indraani Singh

Founder of Literacy India and Indha Capt. Indraani Singh

We have a set of people only to check the quality and I have trained them personally to be very strict in terms of quality. This became part of the process once we started rejecting things in large volumes. The only way to keep ourselves good, give honest work, and be sincere toward what we are doing, is to conduct inspections. Random checks are very critical and we take out let’s say even 2-3 products which are returned by Flipkart or Amazon.

We sit with it and we are extremely strict with everybody around the supply chain where we tell them this is what’s not really there. Then comes the raw material. In our country, raw material is the only challenge which we face, for instance buying some cotton.

Cotton is available in so many varieties and the colours bleed. Now, nobody wants to buy bleeding cotton, even if you buy stuff from Fab India that also bleeds. So, what do you do? We had to do a survey of the kind of people who are procuring directly from the mill. When we are doing our block printing, the colour should never bleed. Two-three times washing rinsing. So, it takes a lot of time but we made it into a habit and it gives a good quality product. Either we won’t give and if we give, it should be A-one.

Must Buy Handicrafts Products from Indha

Are you ready to see some of Indha’s irresistible and highly recommended handcrafted products?

Cotton Patchwork Self Design Throw for Sofa

Source indha.in

This throw for sofa has been carefully handcrafted to add colour and subtle vibrance to your home. Priced at Rs. 1,400 apiece, these attractive patchwork throws are necessary have for handcraft enthusiasts. It would also make a perfect gift and can be purchased from here.

Royal Meenakumari Hand Embroidered Wooden Glass Coaster

Source indha.in

A unique coaster that truly represents India with extraordinary embroidery in ethnic hues. This coaster would make a great addition to your home décor. It is also an amazing choice for corporate gifting purposes. You can get it at a discounted price of Rs. 250, half the original price from here.

Specially Handcrafted Red & Green Silk Brocade Clutch for Girls/Women

Source indha.in

Bags make great gifts for women and this clutch, in particular, is perfect for women of all age groups as it would go well on all festive occasions. The mesmerizing colour combination and design complement both Western and all kinds of Indian outfits. The soft fabric makes it easy to hold and carry around. It is available for Rs. 1,100 here.

Handmade Boho Necklace

Source indha.in

Priced at Rs. 350, this boho necklace made of red wooden beads is a steal! The silver locket in ethnic design adds charm to it. This necklace will beautifully complete both your party and casual look. Add one to your collection and make a style statement with this pretty jewellery piece. You can buy it here.

Notable Mentions

Source indha.in
  • Diary for Gifting: The perfect gift for men, this tan diary built out of vegan leather is both durable and classy. It is available for Rs. 550.

  • Block Printed Travel Handbag: This stylish, spacious backpack would be the right choice for your travels. It is a sturdy bag, made of canvas and has a beautiful bicycle block printing. It is available for Rs. 2900.

Where Can You Find Them?

www.indha.in

Getting to Know the Founder

Source indha.in
BP Guide

Interviewer BP Guide

Coming to your personal interests, what do you enjoy doing?
Capt. Indraani Singh

Founder of Literacy India and Indha Capt. Indraani Singh

Oh, I play the piano. It de-stresses me and like any other maybe you, me or kids or my nieces, my son, I love dancing. So, these two things are a great booster so I keep dancing. During lockdown what else you can do, put on the music and dance or play your piano.
BP Guide

Interviewer BP Guide

Did the lockdown affect Indha?
Capt. Indraani Singh

Founder of Literacy India and Indha Capt. Indraani Singh

Yes, a great deal. I had to fundraise for their food, ration, medicines. It did impact. But since we are doing B2B, the apparel companies are doing well today, so we kept getting orders for apparel also. All the clothes you are seeing, all the fashionable ones, all that is done by us. When they have some target to meet by month-end and supply around 4500 apparel dresses to a company, I hope they are happy with this hard work, I hope they are happy with the money.

So much hard work goes into stitching and embroidering and they all come together. For us, we buy a nice beautiful looking top and we happily go to a party. There is so much hard work behind it. Sometimes I think about it and I hope that they are happy in their own world. I am always searching for smiling faces.

Future Plans for Indha and Literacy India

BP Guide

Interviewer BP Guide

What’s next for Indha and Literacy India?
Capt. Indraani Singh

Founder of Literacy India and Indha Capt. Indraani Singh

Next is to introduce all the bio-degradable, raw materials. For instance, there is a different kind of grass that is available in UP. It comes during the summer. You won’t find it in the cities but these grasses are out there in the jungles in hordes in fact. They in fact catch fire and then it’s a big problem to put out the fire. So, this grass can be recycled and redesigned into baskets and kind of nice beautiful-looking coasters and bags also. So that is what we are planning. Anything which we are, we will get into in future, it’s all going to be on materials which are bio-degradable. That is for Indha basically.

And for Literacy India, our Gyantantra program is our digital innovation which I want to share with as many volunteers who want to reach out to the children who have not had a fair shot at life and their basic education is lacking. Share it with a non-profit and share it with the government schools. So, for Indha, we want to build our B2B work by networking with Young Startups who are working in the area of Eco Friendly and handmade. We want to be their producer.

For Literacy India, we want to help new budding nonprofits with their strategies with the tools which we have developed. We went through our set of challenges and the news organisations also face the same, helping them to cope with it is something we are looking at for the future. These are the targets that we have for Indha and Literacy India.

Any Recommendations for Us?

BP Guide

Interviewer BP Guide

Sure, coming to the gifting front, what would you recommend to someone buying a gift from Indha?
Capt. Indraani Singh

Founder of Literacy India and Indha Capt. Indraani Singh

For ladies, I would say pick up our cotton stoles, the block printing stoles. These stoles are different because the design which we have it’s our own in-house design. And the latest Banarasi clutch is a great party thing. And for gents, I would say go for a yoga bag, our t-shirts, range of t-shirts are there and then in wallets, we have denim wallets also. So, for men these things. There is a shaving kit also, an embroidered shaving kit that has the face of a lion and a Harley Davidson bike is there. For young kids, I have yoyo and that very famous Star Wars alien is there. Yeah, so for different age groups we have this.
From our editorial team

Handmade is Thoughtful

Each item is a creation of love and skill. The artisan uses all their abilities to create a beautiful item that celebrates their craftsmanship. They have imagined each piece, from beginning to end. They are made to the highest quality because the maker understands the value of each piece. By buying a hand crafted item you are supporting the local economy, the local community and a real person. Each sale makes a huge difference in their lives.