Venture Tuesday: "The Red River" runs through Bangalore
By Sahar Adil | Published: August 17 2010
"The Red River" has vibrant, quirky and eclectic home and lifestyle products. Kakoli Das, a young entrepreneur is behind the venture, harnessing skills of artisans and weavers from the North-East, mostly Assam.
Funky cushions from The Red River Kakoli Das, is the vibrant computer engineer turned young entrepreneur
behind the Lifestyle home products label The Red River
, with eclectic and fun products that is firmly based on a sustainable development model. She has recently set up a store in Bangalore, which will officially launch on August 21. A Computer Engineer by profession with a successful career that allowed her to travel and eventually come back to India to do what her heart was after. Setting up a source of employment generation and having a presence in the developmental sector – was what she knew she always wanted to do. “Crafts happen to be the second biggest employer in India in the rural sector - and I love designs, colors and crafts. Also, circumstances I grew up in North East - lack of economic resources, opportunities, the ethnic violence, the terrorism, ...all of these made me feel that while money may not solve all problems, it is an enabler and having basic income is having one less problem in this world.”
Kakoli Das, founder of The Red River
Her background and circumstances has given birth to this initiative of The Red River. The name has been inspired by the cultural and geographical significance of the Brahmaputra that flows through the middle of the North Eastern states and is called “Lohit” or Red river in Assamese.
The products that the Red River
retails in and supplies are mostly home products- cushion covers, kitchen linen, table runners, dinner napkins, place mats, coasters etc and some apparel and fashion accessories like stoles, chokers etcetra.
Access to these artisans, you harness almost 200 artisans?
I have done a lot of field work in the past one year. Starting in the North East has been the biggest plus point as 70% of the people depend on hand-loom and handicrafts for their secondary, if not primary source of income, primarily agriculture. Initially we had to go in search of artisans/weavers - but now, thanks to the word of mouth created by a few good souls who believed in our work, we are also approached by craft groups who want to work with us.We employ "field coordinators" who act as the link between The Red River and the home based weavers and artisans.
The field coordinators are in sync with our requirements and expectations in terms of designs, quality, finish etc and are able to communicate the same to the weavers. In most cases, the field coordinators are from the same village as the weavers - so communication becomes relatively easy.Well, even though we can connect up to 40,000 artisans in the North Eastern area itself - we have identified and mapped 200 so far.
Eclectic bracelets and necklaces from The Red River
A store in Bangalore: We have been doing business in Bangalore through other retail space - Mother Earth being the primary one. This current milestone - this is our exclusive store space with another brand, "Ism" - a brand that does outfits for children. We share a store space as our synergies matched.
We share store space and revenues. In fact we are grateful to her for the arrangement of our exclusive store space. Being a young organization and that too an organization which uses crafts to find solutions to social causes - having investments for an exclusive store space in a city like Bangalore would have been very difficult. We also doa lot of sales online. I truly believe in the power of social media and we are very active on Facebook
.. Also, I decided to do this in Bangalore I was familiar the city and love and faith in the city and the people I know so well.
Quirky little jhola bags to gift things or just store your trinkets!
Working on the colour palettes and creatives since the artisans are all the way in Assam: I travel a lot! I was in Assam for more than a year till a few months ago and we worked out most creatives and color palettes while I was there. I've even trained a few of them on communication - in fact one of them can check emails and even open attachments of creatives! I think that for me was a big achievement! It will also be important to mention that my mother is a big help.
Pricing of Red River Products: Kakoli says, these will be “Aspirational products at affordable price. I have tried to keep the prices at levels that I could have afforded - a young, employed woman or a young family."
Products to look forward to: Anything creative, quirky, eclectic for you and your home - just about anything. We do mostly textile based products but will soon venture into other crafts - jute, cane, bamboo, water hyacinth. We want to position ourselves as crafts with a temporary, quirky twist
Future plans: More stores, more products, more and more artisans and weavers in The Red River family
Website: www.theredriver.in [ work in progress currently]
The store address: "Ism", #965, 1st Floor, 12th Main Indiranagar, Bangalore