Kritenya-Handwoven & Handcrafted accessories brand started in May 2010. It is a dream project for the founder Manjuri Hazarika. Manjuri along with her co-founder and better half Anil Singh encourages weavers especially from Assam to develop new designs inspired by their own creativity and offer some design inputs if needed. The weavers are mostly women who support their families with the income they generate from weaving. Kritenya’s mantra is to grow together with the artisans who are associated with them.
Here is a conversation with Manjuri, one of the founders of Kritenya, where she shares the concept and challenges they faced to sustain in the industry.
Tell us a brief about Kritenya, and how you conceptualised it.
As a brand, we in Kritenya, create all kinds of bags and a few accessories. All our products include handwoven fabrics and everything is handmade. As a designer when I was working with other companies, I realised I was doing nothing to give back to my society. And so, I started as a freelancer leaving my full-time job and started to work with projects where I could involve a few skilled people, especially women and give them some kind of economic support. And after a year or two, my husband came out with the idea of selling my designs independently on various websites. Initially, there were lots of websites which were concentrating only on designers’ creating products out of traditional raw materials. So, we started with the fabrics of Assam and Arunachal, made bags and started selling them under the name Kritenya.
How is Kritenya unique in the market?
We are different in our designs. Our designs make us able to stand out amongst other bag makers. We never go by the trends of bags, but we go by the needs of the customer. We also believe in using fabrics and raw materials that would not cause any harm to anyone, right from the making process to the end user. We also believe in slow fashion, and that’s why maybe we are not a part of the race.
Does Kritenya do anything for sustainability?
We concentrate on creating products that are sustainable, do not harm the ecosystem and require the minimum use or no use of materials that can harm the maker too. We also try to offer sustainable livelihood to the people who work with us, men and women both. We make sure that they are always engaged in some kind of work and have a source of income. That’s why probably we prefer our team to work from home. For the more skilled tailors, we give them a set of the best stitching machines. And if our season is slow, they take up local small orders to fulfill their needs. Also, a better machine consumes less electricity and productivity is high without too much hand or foot movement. For the hand artisans, we take up small orders when work is slow, which they can again do from home without any hassle. So, we have a small workshop, not a big factory, and that’s our happy place too.
How do you choose the products in your range?
As I said we don’t follow trends, but we follow the forecasts, to be able to pick the themes that may work for our customer base. We have a totally different customer base and we are so proud of it. So, we have to work according to them and put our creativity together.
What has been Kritneya ’s greatest challenge and greatest achievement?
Every day has been a challenge apart from the COVID scenario and the greatest achievement is yet to come
What is your outlook on the international and domestic handicraft industry? Also, in the post-pandemic world, what emerging trends you are witnessing among consumers?
For some time now, the handicraft industry has changed, and for the better, I guess. People have really started to value handmade things and dying art and traditions. Some companies buy only from fair trade companies, which is great. In this process, small brands like us get good opportunities. Otherwise, it was always the big sharks who excelled. Most importantly every company has their USP maybe because it is also getting a little difficult to thrive. So, both pros and cons.
Post-pandemic, people have started to become more conscious about buying. Now people won’t just buy for the sake of buying, people would prefer to support someone as well. Conscious buying also may be because we are still facing the post-pandemic effects including a slow economy.
Can you shed some light on the products you have launched this year and new product launches in the pipeline for FY23?
That’s a great question, most of the fashion industry does two or four-season collections a year. But we do just one story and keep working on it. It justifies our sustainable approach and following the slow fashion movement. We made a great collection of linen cotton bags with leather details and a collection of handmade notebooks. We are working on the ideas we would like to bring for 2023, maybe a lot of REUSES of products we have, taking ahead our upcycled collection. We have already done a few samples and people like them. And we have a very interesting new linen cotton fabric for the new season… Let’s see .
What are Kritneya ’s hopes for the future?
We hope to find more like-minded people to work together. To rise high and take many more people in the team and enjoy that journey. To be able to give back to society as much as we can through our work.