Pallavi Mohadikar’s grandfather used to be a weaver from Vidarbha, Her childhood was spent swathed in yarns of indigenous Indian weaves; watching him spin beautiful Tussar silks from mere threads. Pallavi’s grandfather used to weave kosa silk saris and they had two Handlooms in their house in a small village called Pauni near Nagpur. In those days electricity was a big issue but still her grandfather used to keep weaving under the dim light of an oil lamp, he had a family of around 10 people to take care and income from weaving was very meagre. Inspired by his struggle and success, that is how Pallavi decided to take the entrepreneurial plunge.
According to Pallavi,”Today. a lot of weavers have quit weaving and they have taken up jobs in the Blue-Collar sector, because it was paying them more than what they could make by mere weaving saris. Hence, we are trying to bridge that gap by Karagiri, and revive these arts by adopting looms and providing these weavers enough work and remuneration,”
Karagiri’s team travels to rural parts of India to meet weavers and connect with them. It presently works with more than 150 weavers from Banaras (Uttar Pradesh), Bagalkot (Karnataka), Yeola (Maharashtra), and Dharmavaram (Tamil Nadu) and gets the best silk sarees made and ships them across the world.
An engineering graduate from College of Engineering, Pune (CoEP) with a management degree from IIM Lucknow, Pallavi worked with companies like TATA and Goldman Sachs before starting up. Speaking on the initial start Pallavi says,”We launched our website www.karagiri.com, in July 2017 and started selling Narayanpet silk sarees. We first started marketing them in USA. We started with 40 SKUs and currently we have around 3000 SKUs live on the website across different silks,”
She further reiterates,”We target mainly NRIs and are shipping to 11 different countries. We have been profitable since day 1! As a first milestone, we opened out first 2000 sqft studio in the plush Koregaon park area of Pune. The studio became famous for its contemporary approach towards fashion where we use handlooms to make contemporary lehengas and complete bridal trousseau with hand embroidery details!”
After overcoming challenges, the two-year-old startup now claims to be growing 50 percent month-on-month in revenues. Its products are priced between Rs 2,500 and Rs 30,000, and the startup has listed more than 3,000 products on its website. With a total customer base of around one lakh, the startup claims that it is serving about 100 orders per day.
“When we started Karagiri, we bootstrapped it with Rs 3 lakh by taking a loan from a friend. So, the initial few months were quite stressful as we did not have enough funds for marketing, and
we were literally left with just Rs 28,000 in our account. It was a do-or-die situation for us. Then we decided to invest all the remaining money in marketing and it really picked up from there. We started getting more orders, our customers loved the sarees, and we have always outdone our sales targets since then. Initially we used to do everything ourselves, right from getting the sarees woven from the weavers to packing an order and handing it over to a courier guy, we used to do everything ourselves. And right now we have expanded to a team of 10,” says Pallavi.
According to the industry reports the Interest in the sector is growing. Earlier this year, Microsoft India launched an ecommerce platform, re-weave.in, to empower handloom weavers, as part of the company’s philanthropic initiative, Project ReWeave. The platform is aimed at helping artisans connect with buyers.