Okhai continues its march towards fulfilling its vision of being a brand that symbolizes empowerment of rural/semi urban women and at the same time recognises and promotes the dying handicraft of each of the region.

Tata Chemicals Society for Rural Development (TCSRD) has played a pioneering role in promoting the Saurashtra handicrafts at Mithapur, Karjobi at Babrala and jute craft at Haldia under one brand “OKHAI”. The members of the Self Help Groups (SHGs) formed by TCSRD are the backbone of this handicrafts project as they themselves are involved in developing and promoting their native craft.

This year’s main focus has been on the development of the brand and the business. To ensure this, a number of steps have been taken to help improve both – the back-end, i.e., the process of production of rural goods, and the front end, i.e., marketing, sales and branding. At the back-end, production has steadily increased through sustained efforts and better planning. The turnaround time from the placement of order to production to delivery time has been drastically reduced by over 25 hours! The setting up of a design studio at Ahmedabad has helped in better showcasing of samples and designs of the products.

Employing an experienced and dedicated tailor-master and a designer on the Okhai rolls has enhanced production to display a wider product range. This has also encouraged the women at Mithapur to venture into trying to develop new cuts and patterns. Ongoing training in the various processes is carried out on a continuous basis at the stitching center at Mithapur, which, in turn has contributed to enhance quality and increase the speed of production. The raw materials too are being procured directly from manufacturers with no middlemen, thereby acquiring them at optimum prices.

Raw material sourcing options are evaluated regularly. This has helped in getting regular orders and generating business. Special training on costing and visual merchandising has also helped staff at Okhai to work out the right costing. At the front end various positive moves were taken to promote Okhai as a brand which helped to increase and widen the customer base.

Marketing initiatives

Stand alone outlets and handicraft centre: Okhai products are sold at 13 outlets

We also try to increase reach by associating with prominent retail stores. Okhai products are available at the following stores across India:
Suruti, The Culture ShopSangineeSASHAThe ANTS Craft trust
Haiko Mall, 2nd Floor,
Central Avenue, Hiranandani Gardens, Powai, Mumbai
46B, Aswin Apartments,
CP Ramaswamy Road, Alwarpet, Chennai
27, Mirza Ghalib Street, Kolkata #2286, 1st Cross,
14th Main, HAL 2nd Stage, Indiranagar, Bangalore

Sales cum exhibitions in corporate offices: Okhai regularly organises sales cum exhibitions in corporate offices. Many Tata offices and employees volunteer to organize these for Okhai. 

Sales and exhibitions at other locations: During the reporting year, sales and exhibitions are also held at shopping centres and malls of large cities.

Tata Chemicals Corporate Gifts: Tata Chemicals, being the parent company, sources many of its corporate gift requirements from Okhai – thereby giving a boost to the brand as well as to help in pushing sales.

Branding initiatives

  • Okhai products are Craftmark certified. Craftmark is an initiative of All India Artisans and Craft Workers’ Welfare Association, which helps denote genuine Indian handicrafts, develop sector-wide minimum standards and norms for labeling a product as a handicrafts product, and increase consumer awareness of distinct handicraft traditions.
  • All the products are sold with Okhai logo and paper tags.
  • To stop usage of plastic and be environment-friendly, products are handed over in either cloth or paper bags at the Okhai stores.
  • Articles promoting the concept of rural development through handicrafts are published at various forums. The most recent article was published in CSR & Competitiveness.
  • A dedicated product catalogue is updated on a regular basis.

Capacity building of rural women

TCSRD has been working towards enabling the women artisans so that they have their own independent identity and are able to manage their own funds while taking responsibility of the backward and forward linkage to help merge into a cooperative in future. In order to meet this objective, various training programmes are being provided to regularly help upgrade their skill in embroidery, patch work, tailoring etc,. This has helped enhance their productivity, introduce new designs, improve overall quality as well as increase speed of production. Along with the technical training, the women members are also trained in group dynamics, fund management, division of work, entrepreneurship, achievement and motivation etc. Exposure visits to various industrial stitching units like are regularly organised to give them a broader and clearer picture of industrial settings.

Okhai is not only a promising means of generating livelihood for the artisans of Okhamandal region of Gujarat, Gaunnar area of UP and Haldia area of West Bengal, but also a vehicle to empower women both socially and economically. At present, the project is benefiting over 500 women. The goal is to reach out to over 5000 artisans. More importantly, the earnings of the women artisans have to increase. 

The future plan includes more such tie-ups with retail outlets which can have a separate Okhai section. Moreover, once a substantial financial base is established, opening exclusive retail outlets in major cities is on the cards.