Karigar: Designed to enrich lives

Amstelveen, HolandaIndia
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Do you love the designs of our KARIGAR product but concerned about how they were made? You can finally stop asking us if we use child labour or if our artisans are being treated well. We connect Artisan to the Audience through the Talking Tag that gives you information about the production process.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if you could know every person and the painstaking process involved in making your garment come alive?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

People want to know every tiny detail about products that they buy – where it was made, how and if anyone has been harmed in the making process. They want to make a positive impact, but their purchasing decision isn't based on this information alone. The goodness with which it was made is equally important as how good the product looks.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The KARIGAR products cater to a global consumer who is conscious about design and the environment in which the garment was made. We address this by using contemporary design to translate traditional handicraft and by providing a Talking Tag on every product, which when scanned, tells the story of how the product came alive.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Parwa Devi, who was a famer, got trained to become a weaver 2 years ago and started making shawls for the local market. The volume of work wasn’t always steady and her exposure to new designs was limited. Today, Parwa weaves 5 shawls a day for KARIGAR, and is exposed to new designs – she now sends her son to school and is more confident about her income. Britt is a typical conscious consumer who loves a well designed quality product. She will ask piercing questions that make you think about how you make/produce. She picks up a KARIGAR shawl, touches it and tries it on, she’s in love. But wait, how was it made, she asks? Britt can scan the hang tag and find out. KARIGAR product is a marriage of design and technology, artisan and consumer.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

By working on the KARIGAR designs (1,200 products YTD), today more than 1,000 rural artisans are showcasing their products to an international audience. Every single person –from a silk farmer to a spinner to a weaver – in the supply chain has been positively impacted. At Dutch Design Week, Netherlands, we experienced the impact of our products, their beautiful designs and the story of its creation on everyday consumers. During the 9-day event, we had average sales of €1,000 per day with at least 8 consumers who pre-ordered a KARIGAR product. They instantly loved what they saw, but when we showed them how the Talking Tag worked, showed them pictures and videos and shared the names of the people who made their garment, the deal was sealed.We believe that a consumer will buy a KARIGAR product not only for great design, but also because they are assured that it’s made fairly.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Going forward we want to continue with story-telling and transparency but become more dynamic while doing it. Hence, our Talking Tags will share information of the product in making, which the consumer/retailer can see and track live, from the time they place an order with us, to when it’s delivered to them. Additionally, we want to identify and empower more artisans by creating a platform for them and allowing international designers to tap into this network of skill, craft and experience from around the world.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Karigar is currently using the revenue (B2B - Boutiques + Retailers) and B2C (Trade fairs) back to the business to constantly innovate and develop new products. We are currently running a crowdfunding campaign which will help us to get funds to train more groups for 2016. As we scale, we need capital for marketing, branding, inventory management, hiring the right people and technology. Investments - Angel Investors and Serial Crowdfunding.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

In the fashion and apparel industry, this is a burning question – more so because of the Bangladesh tragedy. People are trying to find ways to tell you #whomadeyourclothes. That being said, everyone has a different approach to the problem. Through great design, KARIGAR wants to enrich lives. We want more work for our rural artisans and by creating more contemporary products, we appeal to a wider global audience. Additionally, our consumers are asking questions about how we produce, hence the Talking Tag assures them that their garment has been made fairly.

Founding Story

We were trying to think of what would make KARIGAR stand out from the other brands in stores. We thought about our own shopping patterns and what/how we buy – are we glassy eyed or particular that it’s well designed, high quality product with a fair trade product. Are we aware when shopping or just looking for a good buy? Do we care enough about what we spend on? How can we with our buying decisions make a positive impact on the environment and the people involved in making our products? That’s when we asked ourselves, if our cupboards had a voice, what stories would they tell?


About 3 years ago, we (Kanak Hirani and Sindhu Holla) set up Pashm, an Amsterdam-based company that worked with artisans in India and connected them to the global fashion and apparel industry. Besides showing their handcrafted products to boutiques and getting feedback on them (too ethnic, traditional), we established that designers were keen to explore the textile heritage of India but didn’t know where to go. Our aim was to get more regular work for our artisan teams and the solution that came to us was to create our own brand of Dutch designed, handmade products. We met the perfect partner at a Fashion Match Making event (Jolijn Fiddelaers) – she had her own textile design studio (IXX) and the experience of working in India, and we had the production and artisan network in place. It was the perfect first date! We soon discovered that our roles are complementary and that's how Karigar team was born. Jolijn handles design, Sindhu works on production and finances and Kanak takes care of the sales, communication and social media. In addition to this we work with more than 1000 artisans across different parts of India to produce our products. Going forward we would like to focus on the following roles which will help us grow our brand and thereby provide more work for our artisans. - Brand Identity Expert - Online Marketing Expert - Community Artisan Managers (For different groups spread across different parts of India)
Value Chain: Where does your work fit into the apparel value chain? [check all that apply]

Raw Materials, Manufacturing, Consumption.

Your Role: What is your relationship to the apparel industry? [check all that apply]


Target Population: What stakeholder groups do you engage or empower in your work? [check all that apply]

Brands, Consumers, Corporations, Designers, Farmer or Farmer Associations, Policymakers, Retailers - Mass-merchandise Chain, Sourcing Manager / Supply Chain Manager, Women.

● Intervention Focus: What are you trying to achieve / influence? [check all that apply]

Access to Finance, Conscious Consumerism, Environmentally Sustainable Practices, Transparency.

Lever for Change: Select up to 3 ways your work is helping to transform the industry.

Standards, Training, Technology.

Is your project targeted at solving any of the following key barriers?

Consumers Aren't Motivated to Care: Neither Compelling Reasons Nor Easy Means to Change Consumption Habits, Sustainability is Not Yet in the DNA: Fast Fashion’s Current Model Disincentivizes Value-Driven Economies.

Does your project utilize any of the innovative design principles below?

Activate Local Know-how for Driving Solutions: Build Opportunities for Workers to Become Leaders, Disrupt Business as Usual: Target Key Players Who Can Influence the Bottom Line, Transform the Chain into a Web: Link Unlikely Sectors that Open New Pathways to Sustainability.

Innovation Inspiration: When you first conceived of your project, did you think of it as applicable to the apparel industry?


If you answered "no" to the previous question, which industry was your project originally aimed at transforming?

● Replicating in the Apparel Industry: If your project didn't initially target the apparel industry, how are you specifically tailoring it to do so now?

It's all about the fashion industry!

Are you nurturing or inspiring others to be changemakers? If so, how?

Yes - through Karigar ambassadors of change from different walks of life. #wearsharebeauty l,;;l;l''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''

● Tell us about the partnerships that enhance your approach. How have you collaborated with others in the industry to increase your impact?

German retailer Manufactum believes that the addition of KARIGAR (Talking Tag), would appeal to its consumers