Based in Mumbai, 65-year-old Hema Sarda is working with artisans in Gujarat and tribal regions of Assam to make unique bamboo jewellery.
It was in an exhibition that Hema Sarda first saw traditional jewellery made out of Bamboo. As an artist at heart, Hema bought that jewellery and came home and tried to replicate bamboo jewellery in modern designs. This is how the entrepreneur journey started for this 65-year-old.
Her D2C brand Bambooandbunch is Mumbai based and it works with artists from the tribal community of Assam. The brand design and sell bamboo jewellery and their aim is to amplify the lesser-known crafts of India.
Hema wanted to look beyond metal jewellery when it comes to jewellery making. Bamboo is called green gold because of its sustainability and versatile use. “I wanted to first experiment with the material and the art, and not focus on earning, because I want the world to see this unique art,” Hema says. Hema created the designs and looks for different occasions like everyday workwear and festival wear.
Now Hema works with two clusters of artisans. After sourcing quality bamboo from artisans in her Jamnagar, Gujarat, she sends them to artisans in tribal regions of Assam to design the jewellery. There were challenges in her work, the first being the language barrier. She could not easily explain the designs to the artisans. The language barrier existed in convincing them to experiment with modern designs. Also, there is no courier service in tribal areas, and hence the artisans have to travel a lot to get the raw materials.
Also because of her age, Hema struggle with reading about the market, looking for market space, and digital activities like Instagram. In these areas, her daughter-in-law Taniya helps her. Tanya is based in London and is now trying to expand their business to the UK as well.
Bambooandbunch has consistently generated annual revenue of Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh. The products are priced between Rs 500 and Rs 7,500, which Hema says is considered a high amount for products made from bamboo, but they have incurred costs while working with artisans in two different locations to ensure the quality.