Young Fashion Entrepreneur: Hasthakatha on an Online Marketplace
Ekta Jaiswal is one of best-known fashion mavericks, fashion designer and a young entrepreneur, with her Hasthakatha fashion label on an online marketplace. Her entrepreneurial Endeavour is a sum collective of her personality, is hardly a surprise.
The fact that NIFT, Hyderabad fashion graduate Ekta Jaiswal think of ways to promote Indian traditional handloom be it in the form of dying, embroidery or even printing. She wanted to promote handmade garments and make customers understand the value of slow fashion and Indian craftsmanship. She also aims at providing jobs for craftsmen and artists, who runs HasthaKatha, a fashion shop she co-founded with her friend Divya Lakshmi.
Ekta tells “fashion is something ingrained in her psyche. Her sartorial taste made a splash in the tabloids when she first dressed and styled herself. From conquering to ruling the roost closer to India, then changed the way people perceive fashion, and more importantly, they have elevated the style quotient of the fashionistas.”
HasthaKatha aims at combining folk art and traditional textiles with modern aesthetics in the form of comfortable and wearable handmade linen and cotton garments for women. Ekta worked in the fashion industry, which included an e-commerce company, handloom retail brand and international fashion export house. During her stint with a handloom retail brand, Ekta and her partner Divya got a chance to “learn about the different handmade textiles and folk art from different parts of India closely.” That led the duo to present a brand idea to a fashion incubator and the decision to promote Indian craft and folk art in the form of everyday clothing items, including a mix of cotton wear that is aesthetically rich and eco-friendly too.
They say “Indian textile and handicrafts industry including silk and khadi constitute an important segment of the Indian economy as it is one of the largest employment generators after agriculture. This is because they are the root of the fashion and lifestyle industry. However, Indian handloom and handicraft products cost more and the pieces are not fashionably updated. The making cost depends on the number of hours that are put in to make a handloom product. As the craftsmen are not well-versed with marketing techniques, they need someone to market their products and due to this dependency, the middlemen pocket all the profits and the products become much more expensive than they should be” while pinpointing how “lack of diversification in designs and final products” is one of the major reasons.
At present, Ekta works with hand embroiders, hand dyers, block printers and painters. Instead of completely using an art form, she takes inspiration from one of the art forms and adapts it to create something new. Following the current trend, she creates pieces to the customer’s taste. This is the time when fast fashion is at its peak and the market is competitive. In this race of fast fashion, she trying to create and promote her alternate slow fashion, the 29-year-old Delhi-based entrepreneur said.
Ekta says “Every individual mind works differently. A lot of Indian designers have taken up this initiative to help promote Indian handicraft in their way. Our folk art and craft has so much to offer that even if more than one person takes inspiration from the same handicraft, their outcome will always be different. We should not think of it as competition. This way we will be able to offer more to the world by doing what we are good at.”
Having said that, Ekta adds that her mantra of a successful business is to be pleasant and enjoyable to work around. “I was determined to create an atmosphere where people respect you, but not fear you,” she shares.
Ekta’s foray into entrepreneurship might be just around two years old, but the way she fields questions about her business and her designs speak volumes about her strengths and her candour and calm mind are her greatest strengths.