Embossed leatherwork on goatskin has been a specialty of West Bengal since 1940s. It is said that it was Tagore's daughter-in-law who brought this legendary art of embossing to Bengal from Java. It was in the 1980's, Sasha revived this craft unique to Shantiniketan and helped disseminate the skill to other parts of Bengal. It was Sasha's sustained effort in design & product development, technical and skill up-gradation, quality control and, most importantly, vigorous promotion & marketing drive that expanded the scope of this craft and created greater employment opportunities for the crafts persons.
This enterprise is a living example of Sasha's intervention of building entrepreneurship among rural youth. It is situated in Habra, North 24-parganas, specializing in 'Shantiniketan' style hand embossed leather products. Led by a young artisan-entrepreneur, Dilip Das, the unit has scaled up its capacities and facilities with direct intervention of Sasha.
The unit started over a decade back with a few local artisans led by Dilip, himself a master craftsman, who had formal exposure in leather embossing. The products included different varieties of bags, purse, frames, boxes etc. The products of this group reiterate the fact that traditional concepts can be moulded to satisfy modern functional requirements.
In spite of the good work, the unit was suffering from low productivity and slow growth affecting its margins and fund flow. It was then that Sasha- EDF with support from its Fair Trade partner undertook a systematic and integrated project at Shanti Handicrafts. The project intervened in several areas of operations & systems, design & development, modernization & skill up-gradation. Sasha- EDF offered a range of services to the group from infrastructure support, improvement in planning, processing, coloring, stitching and simultaneous skill development. Sasha has introduced new design concepts, contemporary color schemes and a fresh look to the existing product range for development of new products. Sasha has promoted these products in the international market and propagated direct interface with foreign buyers through systematic feedback mechanisms.
In last 5 years, its turnover increased significantly and the number of artisans increased to more than 25 now. Today Shanti Handicrafts is a thriving & growing enterprise with regular income for its artisans in the community. The unit is development minded, quality conscious, environmentally responsible and socially proactive. t has always lived up to the demands of international business and has done well in domestic market as well.