Handicrafts: A True Reflection of India’s Deep Cultural Heritage
The handicraft and handloom industry forms the backbone of our country's cultural heritage. Be it the Ikat weaves of West Bengal or the Kasuti handwork of Karnataka, each state has its own unique identity in handicrafts and handlooms. Dating back to the Indus Valley Civilisation, the Indian handicrafts sector is perhaps the oldest industry to have survived in the world. The history of our handicrafts reflects our identity as a nation, a fact which makes it all the more rudimentary to preserve what remains of this heritage. By merging the traditional skillset of yesteryears with modern industries, not only can a culture be preserved but also the country can benefit economically from the same.
With the pandemic impacting almost every conceivable industry in the world, Indian artisans and craftsmen have suffered a most severe setback. Fortunately for us, many Indian start-ups and multinational brands have come up with solutions that reap the benefits of this established workforce while also adding an edge to their products. Eartthry is one such brand specialising in handcrafted homeware.
Eartthry: Where Every Piece has a Story
Eartthry traces its roots back to its founder's childhood, in bedtime stories that revolved around ivory, antiques and all things handcrafted. Vasundhara Kumar belongs to a family of artisans, her father and grandfather being the founders of the handicraft trade in India. Through her brand, Vasundhara aims to preserve this foundation by giving Indian artisans "a voice of their own" and an independence to create art.
Each homeware collection tells a story, about its origin, the inspiration that created them and the journey they have gone through. From the sands of Persia to the golden opulence of the Palace of Versailles to the rustic mystery of Bocage, every collection takes you on a journey around the Earth, revelling in local design, folklore and craftsmanship.
The homeware designs are all manufactured at factories in different parts of the country. Each final product is preceded by a prototype, which is tested and retested from various angles, to ensure high quality and durability. Only after the product successfully passes a predetermined series of tests does the final production begin. We caught up with Vasundhara to know more about Eartthry and her experiences.
Eartthry stands for ancestry, sustainability and design. Born out of the dire need to support local artisans, heritage and encourage centuries old craftsmanship which is now on the verge of extinction.
Vasundhara Kumar – Founder, Eartthry
The Journey So Far with Eartthry's Founder, Vasundhara Kumar
- Q. Tell us about yourself and your background.
- My background is quite eclectic. I was a civil litigation lawyer who practiced in the High Court for 3 years, I left that to move into fashion PR. I have always been a people’s person and PR was a perfect fit for me. I was and still am extremely passionate about fashion, I till date handle social media for different fashion brands in addition to Eartthry under a different company called Capiche Branding.
- Q. What led you to create Eartthry and how did you go about it? Could you also talk about your inspiration to focus on handicrafts?
- For me, Eartthry has been in the works since the day I was born. My father and grandfather before me founded the handicraft trade in India, my childhood stories revolved around ivory, miniature Mughal paintings, antiques and gemstones. It gave birth to my love for beautiful things. I founded Eartthry with a single agenda, it was to give Indian artisans a voice and the freedom to create. I believe that it is in our own hands to support and promote our culture, traditions and aesthetics. I hope Eartthry will be a means to do that.
- Q. Eartthry’s collections are eclectically themed. Why did you choose to opt for a collection-focused approach? How do you go about choosing the themes for your collections?
- At Eartthry, every collection tells a story. The collection and its pieces talk about their origin, the inspiration from which they were born and the journey they have had. For e.g. The Jamevaar Collection, I got inspired by the sands of Persia and the Ottoman Empire, my brass pastry stands were inspired by the Palace of Versailles since they are intricately carved in brass, they take on that opulence of Versailles. All the cushions were inspired by the Ubud Flea Market in Bali; that boho-ness of Bali comes across the collection in spades.
Every collection will take you on a journey across the Earth, showcasing local designs, tales and craftsmanship. I would love to say that I choose the theme, but honestly it's the theme that chooses me. I get inspiration from anything and everything, the TV shows I watch (I love documentaries) for e.g. I am currently watching a Korean show based in the 1500’s, and maybe I will do a Korean inspired collection next.
- Q. Which has been the most interesting collection you have worked on and why? Any particular favourite piece(s) from the collection?
- I think the most interesting collection has definitely been “Mehjabeen” - The Luminous Collection. It was something that I really wanted to do ever since I came across Tom Ford’s Tobacco Oud Fragrance, I thought to myself that this is what is missing in India, a super luxe oud candle. So I sourced the purest oud I could find and housed it in beautiful iridescent glass cloches.
Mehjabeen is inspired from the sandy deserts of Arabia. It is an ode to the luminosity of the desert moon. The alluring fragrances of intoxicating white oud, heady damask rose, aromatic saffron, smoky wood oud and refreshing pear blossom create an exquisite atmosphere. A unique collection showcasing the ancient intoxicating powers of agarwood, in the form of a candle is an experience for the senses.
The colour palette is inspired by the precious jewels of the East, Mehjabeen has tones of muted gold, gunmetal silver, sea foam green, saffron peach, translucent white, hot pink and moss green all interlaced with rainbow beams on the glass cloches.
It is super difficult to pick but I think for me personally it would be the gold cloche, The Rooh-e-Gulab - damask rose oud, actually it was a favourite of Noor Jahan, she used to bathe in it. It has the ability to take you back to that era of opulence, luxury and beauty.
Three Things You Must Buy from Eartthry
Sufiana Brass Urli
Inspired by tradition, we created this unique brass urli featuring a gently hammered exterior accompanied by our custom combination of mogra and tuberose fragrance. Our signature Sufiana Urli is perfect for any festive occasion. Once the candle wax melts, the urli can be filled with flowers or tea lights.
Price starts from ₹ 1,500.00 depending on size and you can buy it here.
Fiesta Cushion Cover
A fringe cushion in Matka Silk. It features a cotton braid surrounded by three panels of natural fringe. Price at ₹ 1,700.00, you can buy this beautiful cushion cover here.
Madeline Pastry Stand
A delicate two-tiered brass filigree pastry stand with intricate floral detailing in hues of pink and lavender, handcrafted to perfection. Price at ₹ 3,500.00, you can buy this exquisite pastry stand here.
Where Can You Find Them?eartthry.com
What Goes into Making Eartthry Products
- Q. What is your typical production process and how do you introduce new products?
- So, I work with different factories in different parts of India, I come up with the exact design of what I want, my team and I then make prototypes of the product. The prototypes are extremely important for us, as we run tests on them - so if it is a candle for e.g., what is the burn time, is the container fireproof, etc. Only once we are convinced with the quality of the products do we put them into production.
The new products are introduced mainly through the usual marketing sources, we have social media, word of mouth and before the second wave, we did 3 different exhibitions as well.
- Q. How do you ensure quality?
- We ensure quality by testing and retesting our products so that we can fix any issues if they arise before putting out the product in the market.
- Q. What are some challenges you faced and how did you overcome them? How has the lockdown affected you?
- I think one of the biggest challenges we faced was delivery to our customers. Even though we had delivery partners, the lockdown restrictions created a lot of issues. Some were late, some never reached the customer and were sent back, some customers could not accept deliveries due to their building being on lockdown.
I think we overcame it by being extremely patient, with the customers, the agents and ourselves. After all, it was no one's fault, just something we had to deal with, so we did our best, one day at a time.
- Q. How would you describe Eartthry and how does it differ from other similar brands?
- Eartthry stands for ancestry, sustainability and design. Born out of the dire need to support local artisans, heritage and encourage centuries old craftsmanship which is now on the verge of extinction.
I think Eartthry has its own role to play and its own niche, our USP is that it is a sustainable initiative which works to upcycle products to create unique and beautiful products. For e.g. our signature tuberose and mogra urli, was upcycled from the regular urli and turned into a beautifully fragranced candle and décor item.
- Q. What are your own interests?
- An extremely varied list of interests, I love to cook, to watch MasterChef (Australia not America) on my days off. Anything to do with interiors, linens and fashion. An avid reader as well as a gardener and I am currently obsessed with clubhouse, what a great place to learn about absolutely everything.
Noteworthy New Launches
An alluring, mysterious and sensual fragrance which has depths of layers, the strong heady scent of the damask rose, which settles beautifully into the room and is balanced by clove and praline, both of which add tanginess and sweetness to the musk of the rose. The aromatic depth of the oud oil and agarwood, provide a bold, exotic base to this stunning candle - An ode to Noor Jehan, who loved this particular fragrance. You can buy this beautiful aromatic candle here.
Price: ₹ 3,700.00.
Rosa Glass Vase
A glass vase with soft gold etching that will spruce up every table-top. Fill it up with fresh flowers or foliage, for a lovely accent piece. You can buy this exquisite vase here.
Price: ₹ 1,500.00.
St. Tropez Rattan Basket
This lovely rattan basket is a must-have to create spaces in your home. Add it to your living room with a candle or to your bathroom with some rolled up towels. It is the perfect accessory to have in the house. You can buy this unique basket here.
Price: ₹ 1,500.00.
Eartthry's Future Plans?
We have exciting things happening in the wings. I am looking forward to launching a linen collection made of the softest mulmul and pure 100% cotton. A capsule collection for Diwali in collaboration with a special guest. Stay tuned.
Any Recommendations for Home Décor Buying and Gifting?
I think décor is a very personal thing, one of my tricks is to really visualise my surroundings and see how the piece would fit in there. Especially when giving someone a present, to really understand their home décor, the colour of their walls, the linens they use, etc. All these details really help in picking out the perfect present. For e.g. If I have a friend who likes florals, if she is a girly-girl, I would present her with the Mashiyyat candle - a refreshing scent of pear blossom agave, crisp white pear and apple blossom with a hint of shimmering jasmine. A fresh, light fragrance for a hot and heavy summer. The sea green cloche will remind her of the sea and give her home a lovely pop of colour.
Decorate Your Home While Contributing to Conservation of India's Cultural Heritage
Everyone aspires to have a home which is not only warm and cosy but also exudes a feeling of royalty and opulence. When you buy home décor products from Eartthry you not only achieve aspirational fulfilment but also contribute to the upliftment and sustenance of skilled artisans and craftsmen and ultimately, the conservation of India's rich cultural heritage.