This female entrepreneur from Bhubaneswar quit her cozy job to start a handcrafted home decor brand

India’s art forms are blessed with a rich heritage of craftsmanship and are known all over the world for their intricate and attention to detail. From east to west and north to south, each region inherits a plethora of unique art forms that may not be known to the outside world.

Thirty-four years old Arpita Sahu also realized the same thing when she returned from the United States after working with several companies such as The Coca-Cola Company and Colgate-Palmolive.

“When I came back to Odisha after a couple of occasions outside, I realized that there is a huge talent in my home country, with Pattachitra as one of the most beautiful and intricate detailed art forms. I always had a creative side of me that was left unexplored. So I jumped at the first opportunity to start a creative company when I discovered the enormous scope of our Indian folk art forms “, says Arpita in an interview with SMBStory.

Arpita established Bhubaneswar-based Vintage Vistara 2019 on their own. She claims that within the next few months, her company aims to reach a revenue of Rs 1 crore.

Edited excerpts from the interview:

SMBStory [SMBS]: What is Vintage Vistara and how did you start the company?

Arpita Sahu [AS]: Vintage Vistara is a craft brand that showcases various Indian art forms through their home decor and interior design products that combine traditional art forms with contemporary styles.

I started this company in 2019 after quitting my job in an effort to explore the creative side within me. I started implementing my first idea on a functional wall clock. It came out pretty good and the style was something people had not seen before.

We are currently engaged in a wide range of products in many art forms, including Pattachitra, Madhubani, Kalamkari and more. We started the brand by selling through Etsy and now we ship worldwide also via our e-commerce store. We receive an average of 500 orders a month, which gives revenue of 50 lakh Rs per year.

Hand-painted wall hangings from Vintage Vistara

SMBS: How many craftsmen and artisans do you employ and where do the raw materials come from?

AS: Vintage Vistara employs about 12 artists and four craftsmen from all over the country. We deal with home furnishing products, trays, coasters, wall decorations, bullheads, wall plates, hand-painted sarees, bags etc.

Most of ours wood and medium density wood fiber boards (MDF) comes from Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh where a team of skilled craftsmen shapes them based on our needs. The animal head structures are made in Kerala and we are constantly exploring new structures with them. The metal products come from West Bengal and watches from Delhi. They are all finished and prepared for painting in our workshop in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. So our products really travel around before they are final and sent to customers.

SMBS: What major challenges did you face when running the business?

AS: The biggest challenge is to scale up because we are an exclusive hand-painted store and there is only so much that human hands can do. Although the pleasure of owning a unique handmade / hand-painted product is unmatched, the process behind making the product is very long.

In a world of fast fashion and fast delivery, it becomes really difficult to convince customers to wait for products. It feels like a big challenge. In addition, we always try to increase the knowledge about the art form first so that people understand the meaning and history of our Indian art forms and know exactly what they are paying a premium for. This awareness has not yet fully reached the Indian audience who prefer to receive products faster and at a cheaper price.

SMBS: What are your plans for the future?

AS: We aim to capture international audiences in more countries through Etsy, and we are also experimenting with more art forms. We want to touch an income on 1 million Rs during the coming financial year, as both our product range and the team grow. We are looking at employment 50 more artists this year and expand our art forms to lesser-known creators. We have big plans to expand to the hand weave space as well.

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