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    Hyderabad-based Nishita and Swapnika Manne follow in the footsteps of sites like Pochampally.com and Snapdeal, who in December last year, tied up with India Post, to promote the Varanasi weaving community online. Their portal, weavesmart.com, seeks to put buyers directly in contact with weavers, do away with middlemen, and increase their profit margins. Currently focussing on Pochampally ikat weaves, the duo whose family runs a pharmaceutical company near a cluster of remote weaving villages, plans to set up enabling centres in various regions to sell products and connect with interested weavers. Their first enabling centre opened in late February in Hyderabad, with centres in Nellore, Chanderi, Mangalagiri and Chirala expected over the course of the year.
    “We wanted to give back to the community, around our factories. So this is kind of a CSR initiative,” shares Nishita, a chartered accountant by profession.
    Once a particular product is created, the weavers post it directly on the site. So each piece is limited, and there are no repeats. Needless to say, they also get snapped up pretty quickly. Prices on the portal are finalised by the weavers themselves. “When you buy something, the money goes directly into the bank account of the weaver,” Nishita informs, adding, “By creating a interactive platform for the weavers, we give everyone a glimpse of the person who has actually crafted the weave.”
    Behind the wheel
    On the site are saris, salwar fabrics, dupattas and bedspreads, in the Pochampally ikat style, with other varieties of hand-crafted fabrics expected soon. While the saris are silk, the fabrics, dupattas and bedspreads come in handloom cotton. Each product carries a picture of the weaver, with a line indicating the weaver’s name, place and the time taken to create it. From bright yellows with contrasting black and gold borders to vibrant rani pinks and subtle creams, the striking colour combinations make each piece pop.
    About 150 weavers are already enrolled in the venture, with the enabling centre receiving new products every three days. Their next centre at Uppada has 100 weavers on its rolls. “We’re still working on our business model as it’s less than a month since we launched. Things will be streamlined in a few months,” Swapnika signs off.
    Rs.750 upwards.
    Details: weavesmart.com
    —Rashmi Rajagopal

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