Did you know that you can buy the best of handloom from GoCoop.com, an online weaver co-operative? And soon this online marketplace will carry the Good Loom brand stamp. Launched in 2014, GoCoop has processed over 20,000 orders from 15 countries serving designers, brands and retailers. “It has had a 220 % online growth last year with 80 % coming from organic and direct channels,” says Siva Devireddy founder of GoCoop.com. “The demand is exciting and scary.”
Devireddy, a Masters in Engineering from Arizona State University, quit his job at a leading global consulting organisation to start the online venture. With a strong belief that technology can drive social change, GoCoop was born as a marketplace to connect Indian handloom and handicraft producers to domestic and international consumers.
India is one of the largest producers of handmade goods owing to a nine million strong weaver and artisan community. Their handmade fabrics and crafts are denied access to fair equitable markets. What Devireddy retains are memories of his childhood in his grandparent’s village in Guntur in Andhra Pradesh where he observed farmers and weavers never getting a fair price or minimum wages.
“It took us over two years to understand handloom and handicraft clusters, especially how the artisans and co-ops work. Initially it was difficult to explain e-commerce to artisans who had never seen a computer,” says Devireddy.
The portal has weaver co-operatives from handloom clusters across India. “We also support good master weavers, NGOs and producer organisations working in this sector. Since its inception, GoCoop has built a seamless supply chain with over 300 co-ops and weaver organisations which in turn have a base of more than 80,000 artisans. These co-ops are from 46 handloom clusters from 10 States across India,” Devireddy adds.
Talking of the need for the portal, Devireddy comments, “Through GoCoop, we see artisans getting 15 to 30% more for their products as compared to traditional channels. The extra money goes to them, rather than for raw materials. Selling online works better than intermediary selling. Selling an Ilkal sari online is good, but an artisan or co-op producing these saris and directly selling online creates a bigger impact.”
GoCoop is working on Ilkal saris from North Karnataka. The design team is making these products more contemporary by changing design, improving the yarn, the colour palette and the patterns.
The benefits of a model such as GoCoop are more transformational in sectors like handloom. Haran Sarkar, a weaver from West Bengal says, “The hassle of approaching retail has hit us hard. Online demand is based on quality, and we offer a trademarked product, classified as pure.”
Srininvas Palla from Bagalkot says, “GoCoop says our products will now have a brand label. What more do we require?”
Devireddy says the Good Loom label is for natural fabrics and the distinct weaves of India. It will represent a new approach to fashioning crafts. It is not just a label, but a movement to promote a conscious green lifestyle.
GoCoop will launch the Good Loom brand on February 1. There will be a pre-launch sale at Taj Vivanta on January 5 and 6 to gauge customer feedback.