By a Correspondent
Imphal, June 6,
A textile and handicraft company launched by a woman from Manipur has successfully started spreading eco friendly textile products of Manipur to the entire country and abroad. A company, Natural Textile Collections (NTC) founded in 2004 by Ms.Keisham Babita Devi primarily concentrating on handicraft made of ‘Kauna’ and other natural fiber based products produces bags, baskets and other household products. Currently, the company has expanded to handloom products like garments and home furnishings, containers and laundry basket of many shapes and sizes. The company focuses primarily on eco-friendly products. The USP of the NTC Company is of mixing the traditional material ‘Kauna’ with the current modern designs making it fashionable to everyone.
Today NTC’s business is increasing day by day and looking for in house design production to create own brand label.
NTC is a success story in promoting Manipur handicraft and handloom products to the world and generating income to the state.
In the beginning, the company started from a humble background and focused mainly on the retail of the products. However, the company has currently expanded from only retail to wholesale and export.
The founder, Ms.Keisham Babita Devi born in a family with a strong tie to the Manipur handloom and handicraft industry was supported by her parents Keisham Manaobi Singh and Haobam Ranibala Devi of Khwai Nagamapal Paonam Leikai, Imphal West Manipur.
It was an inherited family trade and love as Babita’s grandfather, late Keisham Tombi Singh is considered as the pioneer of Manipur Handloom and Handicraft. He founded the Pineapple fiber in the early 1960s which is also one of the main resources of the industry. He also introduced “Lashing Phee” (a type of blanket with cotton) in the late 1930s which became one of the popular types of household product in the state.
Ms. Babita’s parent worked in the Manipur Handloom & Handicraft industry and contributed immensely to the promotion of the industry and the products. Keisham Manaobi, father of Ms. Babita, introduced ‘Kauna’ to the European market in the late 1980s. Because of the exposure to the industry from an early age, Ms Babita has been inspired to work in this sector. The inspiration behind the formation of NTC was from the time where she used to work in various export house where people from all over the world could find the handicraft and handloom products from various states of India. Even though the Manipuri handloom and handicraft products are unique in the world, it was not getting the exposure it needed and people were not aware of the products. This gave her the idea and interest to promote the Manipur handloom and handicrafts to the world. The seed to start the company started getting shape.
Keisham Babita a recipient of Vasundhara NE Woman Entrepreneur award 2014 – 15 started joining exhibitions and fairs with her family to test out the retail market for Manipur Handloom and Handicraft Products. Later on, she branched out her own company to venture as an independent woman entrepreneur.
By attending various exhibitions and fairs she got the opportunity to expand her market. Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH) provided one such platform. The EPCH organised Indian handicraft and Gift Fair (IHGF) twice a year and on both occasions the NTC was given the opportunity to particate and display her products.
Since the early humble but steady start, the company has grown stronger and achieved
substantial milestones on the way. Some of the noteworthy milestones are,
· First Manipur handicraft (made of ‘Kauna’) export assignment to Jamaica.
· First invitation to attend international exhibition for Handloom and Handicraft representing Manipur.
· Showroom opened in Delhi and other branches.
· Regular export consignment to France, Italy, Germany, United State of America, Japan and Malaysia.
NTC plays a key role in the promotion of handicraft products especially ‘Kauna’ craft in the
national and the international market. NTC has earned recognition amongst the overseas
NTC has appreciated EPCH for providing the buyers and seller platform and giving it the much needed boost to reach out to the whole world. The platform generated a high level of awareness to overseas buyers and resulted in high demands of handicraft products from our state. These activities have enhanced our state economies, which also help in creating employment, especially to the women.
NTC also helps in creating new product lines by introducing innovative designs and producing quality products to meet the international market standard.
Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH) was established under Companies Act in the year 1986-87 and is a non-profit organisation, with an object to promote, support, protect, maintain and increase the export of handicrafts. It is an apex body of handicrafts exporters for promotion of exports of Handicrafts from country and projecting India’s image abroad as a reliable supplier of high quality of handicrafts goods & services and ensured various measures keeping in view of of observance of international standards and specification. The Council has created necessary infrastructure as well as marketing and information facilities, which are availed both by the members, exporters and importers.