It is not every day that you come across a duo who have majored in engineering to later venture into the field of fashion and apparel – but when you do come across such cases, you are struck with interest.
Such is the story of the people behind Niiyaa– a sustainable platform for artisans to showcase and sell their products to buyers all across the globe.
Niiyaa is the brainchild of Aditi Tewari and Anurag Shrivastava. The founders began their hunt to bring stories in the form of woven fabric to the world a while ago and continue to work towards seamlessly blending age-old craftsmanship with modern sensibilities to cater to a global audience. Both of them have a vision of weaving a fabric of strong human connections through their work.
THE BRAINS BEHIND THE BRAND
Aditi Tewari, with her highly celebrated Post-graduation degree in engineering from Huntsville, USA, began her career with Cognizant and later worked with UAH as a Research Associate, in collaboration with NASA – Marshall Space Flight Centre. After a stint at Accenture Labs in the US, she had her first brush with the fashion industry when she co-founded French Cuffs, which specialised in custom-made fits for men. This helped pave the way for her to start a revolution in handcrafted fashion. Travelling the world exposed her to art and global fashion trends, that in turn inspired her to start Niiyaa.
Anurag Shrivastava too is an engineering graduate along with a Postgraduate degree from XLRI. After having a fulfilling career with renowned companies such as Tata, Mahindra and L&T, he went on to create a successful finance company 4ThoughtsFinance and still functions as the Managing Partner for the same. He joined Aditi to bring the world of Niiyaa to life.
Together, they have given 600 craftsmen job opportunities all across the world, and they hope to change 1,000 artisanal lives with their project this year.
Niiyaa pays its partner artisans fairly for their skill and labour with the craftsmen receiving their fair share long before the product is sold to the consumer.
“In actuality, Niiyaa is absorbing the risk of carrying the inventory, and as a result, our artisan partners are protected from market volatility because they receive payments ahead of schedule,” Aditi Tewari, Co-founder of Niiyaa told Apparel Online India (AOI).
PRODUCT ASSORTMENT, USP AND PRICING
With Niiyaa, Aditi and Anurag ventured into the artisan world and consumers across the globe with 15+ handcrafts and one core product as the pilot – a huge variety of scarves. Seeing the success enjoyed by their debut category, the duo launched and expanded Niiyaa’s product categories to include jackets, kaftans, coats, dresses, handbags, jewellery and more.
The founders have drawn inspiration from travel to faraway places around the globe. Some of the floral and animal motifs are laced with interesting anecdotes and ancient traditions. A re-emergence of the Silk Route can be seen in some of their hand-painted pieces inspired by the ancient artists.
Niiyaa is a global platform bringing together arts, artisans and artisanal designers from remote corners of the world.
“We are trying to connect two different worlds – the artisan world and the world of the right audience, who appreciate such work, and Niiyaa comes in between to connect both these worlds. We work on pillars of authenticity, fine handcrafted objects and human connection, bringing the hidden stories back into gatherings,” Anurag Shrivastava, Co-founder of Niiyaa explained.
The products are priced between Rs. 3,000 and Rs. 20,000, depending upon the work, complexity and finesse of craft, time taken to make the product, geographies travelled by a single product, etc., but the baseline remains as ‘finely handcrafted from across artisans of different countries, including India’.
“Our brand targets the woke population of the world who believe in giving back to society, and are conscious of the environment. We have got finer in reaching the right audience based in the US, Canada, UAE and some parts of Europe. We also went live in India in November 2021,” Anurag highlighted.
SHINING THE SPOTLIGHT ON TRADITIONAL ARTFORMS AND CRAFT
Niiyaa is striving hard to bring diverse products, communities, makers and crafts – success stories of authentic talent from inaccessible people and places – to the world. Regions such as Rajasthan, varied artisans of Kutch, other parts of Gujarat, interior regions of West Bengal and many clusters from the north of India feature high on the brand’s portfolio.
Commenting on the same, Aditi said, “We work with all kinds of handcraft techniques such as handloom weaving, hand printing, hand painting, finest of hand embroideries and a variety of tie & dye processes. We work with 15+ crafts from India and fuse multiple artforms into a single product.”
Internationally, the brand is working with artisans from regions in Asia, Africa, South America and everything in between. In the next few years, the founders aim to make Niiyaa the largest platform for highly curated fine handcrafts belonging to the remotest places on earth, spanning any continent, and aspire to bring it to a base of users who truly believe in human connections.
IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS
As a brand, Niiyaa places great emphasis in breaking the monotony of traditional designs by giving them a modern language. In this aspect, Niiyaa works with all kinds of arts, be it tie and dye, block-printing, hand painting, embroidery or weaving created by some of the best artisans in these crafts.
Commenting on the same, Anurag said, “One kind is indigenous artisan communities across the globe who work locally in their villages (mostly inaccessible locations). We generally respect the nativeness of the art and don’t interfere a lot with the colours and the motifs. Every handmade piece has a story to tell, a story of its tradition, of its history, of the emotions they carry while producing the piece and the list is endless. We exist to tell their stories and flaunt their work.”
The second kind of artisans are the ones working full time with Niiyaa. They work with all kinds of art and are genius at fusing various arts together. A team of in-house designers work hard with both kinds of artisans to make very interesting and rare one-of-a-kind of products.
The brand only believes in presenting high-end products for culturally aware consumers. In this regard, long filament luxury fibres are used to produce high-end fabric, whilst lustrous fibre is obtained from the cocoon of the mulberry silk worm to create silk scarves.
Renowned for its excellent selection of fabrics, including jamdani weave, mulmul, marrakesh, banarasi and more, Niiyaa believes in the creation of traditional textiles and crafts in cutting-edge styles.
Handwoven textiles like Jamdani, Silk, Mulmul, Wool, Organic Cotton, etc., are used to create a wide selection of outfits that include both traditional Indian and westernwear. Materials are further enriched by needlework, painting, block-printing, hand screen printing, or other traditional crafts and skills.
MANUFACTURING AND SOURCING
Founded in 2020, Niiyaa launched its e-commerce website in India in 2021. The brand’s central unit is based in Bengaluru, India while the company works with various artforms from different artisans around the world.
Today Niiyaa has over 500 artisans across India who retail their handcrafted products on the brand’s e-commerce platform to bring textiles with optimum utility and quality to a large pool of global audience. The duo plan to expand this number and reach over 1,000 artisans from across the globe in the coming three months.
“Niiyaa is dedicated to creating the grandest international community of creators and consumers in the space of handcrafted luxury. In the next few years, we want to make Niiyaa the largest platform for highly curated fine handcrafts belonging to the remotest places on earth and reaching any continent, to a base of users who truly believe in human connections,” Aditi highlighted.
Niiyaa is available to purchase online on its international website https://www.niiyaa.com/as well as on https://www.niiyaa.in/. Additionally, the brand is also looking at starting sales in offline stores soon.
KEEPING SUSTAINABILITY AND ETHICAL PRACTICES AT THE CORE OF BUSINESS
Niiyaa strongly believes that it is its duty to build a sustainable world for the next generation and moving towards slow fashion and handmade products is one such attempt. In today’s world, high-quality handcrafted products with a modern language are still not as easily available to the world.
“Our artisans get their fair share much before the product reaches the consumer and thus their healthy monetisation is well ahead of time. In fact, Niiyaa is taking the risk of carrying the inventory, to ensure that our artisan partners are insulated from market fluctuations and get monetised way ahead,” Anurag explained.
“Every time one makes a purchase, one questions the product’s origins and its cost to the environment. But today they can shop without a guilt trip because Niiyaa has made the connection.”
The founders of Niiyaa have connected talented makers and connoisseur consumers. Their products, made with a cultural legacy, are unique and this gives the buyers access to original, authentic, handmade products that have had no negative impact on the environment. Furthermore, Niiyaa helps in coordinating and providing design assistance wherever necessary.