Identifying niche markets

THE TRADITIONAL textiles and handcrafted items are what lure you to various exhibitions. But it is the handcrafted utility items that are an instant hit with the customers. All these and more are available at the exhibition by Lepakshi under the Andhra Pradesh Handicrafts Development Corporation.

Apart from the Mangalagiri sarees, some of the weavers have brought with them some exclusive block-printed sarees with Lepakshi prints and other national designs. Ranging from an affordable Rs.300 in cottons, there are Kosa silks from Raigad and Chanderi from Guna too, which can cost around Rs.1,500 or more.

The utility items that artist Prabhakar Pandey has woven from simple cotton materials have become a rage for the modern homemaker or a traveller. You have a medicine bag, a shoe bag, a socks and handkerchief bag, a shopping bag doubling as a hand bag and a number of other items. A sculptor by skill, he has found a vocation in making these utility items, which have got him a registration with the Development Commissioner, Handicrafts.

A native of Nagpur, but brought up in Kolkata, he had taken up an office job with a private company. But his artistic talents forced him to throw away the dreary office work. Along with his wife, Pandey found his vocation in art. It is probably their constant travel from one place to another that made him come out with such utility items. He has a unit in Hyderabad also.

There are some readymade kurtas, small tops as well as dress material brought by artisans representing various States. The usual handcrafted items such as terracotta, metal craft, wood craft and leather craft are on display along with some jewellery.

Last year, the Corporation achieved a sales turnover of Rs.8 crores from exhibitions and this year they expect a turnover of Rs.10 crore. About 2,000 crafts persons are being benefited with these exhibitions.

The Lepakshi Exhibition is on at Kanaka Damodar auditorium till October 13.

By Shyama Rajagopal

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