This brand of pottery allows tribes to sell terracotta creations

Arundhati Badhe has always been fascinated by nature and believes in taking inspiration from your environment. She studied ceramics and pottery at the renowned JJ School of Arts where she encountered terracotta and fell in love with this material.

She continued to experiment with terracotta to create unique works of art and crafts. A clay-based earthenware material, terracotta is very versatile and environmentally friendly. The founder saw it as a sustainable alternative to plastic because it has a high utility quotient.

In 2013, at a pottery workshop organized by Prolite Autoglo in Hamrapur, Maharashtra, Arundhati trained over 100 members of the Warli tribe in the art of making terracotta. Their zeal and potential in the art of ceramics made him see an opportunity to give back to the community. She approached Prolite Autoglo for an investment, and they agreed.

Arundhati decided to form a tribal group in 2013, and eight years later launched Hamrapur-based Trance Earth as a market to sell earthenware creations made by the tribal community. “It was born out of experience working with the material, combined with a desire to bring our modern lifestyles a little closer to Mother Earth,” said the founder. SMBStory.

Building from a community

The first challenge Arundhati faced was to perfect them as they had no practical experience in pottery. The company started with two employees and now employs fourteen tribesmen, none of whom have left Trance Terra, says Arundhati, except one.

“They didn’t know much about pottery but already knew the craftsmanship, even though they only made things for personal use. They had no real hands-on experience in making products per se. I saw this as an opportunity; it was a skill we could teach them,” she recalls.

Although they do not have a sales operation, after the tribals were sufficiently qualified, Arundhati opened a production facility in Hamrapur in March 2022.

Trance Terra manufactures a variety of earthenware products, from kitchen utensils such as pots and fruit baskets to wall sconces. They also take customer feedback and create custom versions of products based on their wishes, Ayesha says.

The brand does not operate like a typical e-commerce portal. Each time the platform receives a new order, employees are consulted before starting the project to get an idea of ​​its delivery.

“For example, during the recent Diwali season, we received a particularly large order of five hundred pieces of personalized terracotta earthenware,” explains Ayesha Parbou, Marketing and Growth Consultant at Trance Terra. “At first we were hesitant to accept the order, but after talking with our employees, we went ahead.”

Pot and terracotta lamp

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Make terracotta

Although the factory uses several machines, production is largely human-driven.

Each earthenware product goes through a multi-step process of preparing the clay, shaping it, making the final touches and finally firing it. The whole process may take 10-12 days for one product. This requires foresight before accepting large orders, according to Trance Terra.

“Take the Diwali order we were talking about. The client had given us the freedom to choose a design of our choice, and there were two options. , one of each model. Such decisions can only be made when you have a good relationship with the people who work with you and when they are comfortable speaking up – we have always encouraged this,” says Ayesha .

When it comes to marketing, Trance Terra uses a combination of online and offline media promotions. This allowed 40% of orders to go through their online portal. The rest is received as in-person on-call orders as well as physical stalls and pop-up stores.

The company usually exhibits its wares at The Green Co-op at BKC in Mumbai. He launched on Nykaa Fashion in October 2022 and plans to expand his social media reach soon by working with bloggers, content creators and celebrities to endorse his products.

Sustainability and the future

“As a business, profit is definitely a concern for us, but what’s more important is building community and fostering a sustainable lifestyle,” says Arundhati. “Making sustainable products is important but How? ‘Or’ What using them is something more people need to be aware of and we are focused on educating our customers by including brochures with each product, with information about the product and how to use and care for it.

Trance Terra does not make earthenware like diyas (lamps) or matkas (pans) which is commonly used in Indian homes. Arundhati has made the decision not to become a competition for the existing small businesses and artisans who live off these products.

The company guarantees that its products are environmentally friendly and non-toxic. Even the stains are prepared in-house with natural enamel colors. The company also plans to create eco-friendly recycling and packaging products, as well as designing more lighting.

It also guarantees the durability of the products by firing the terracotta at 1,050 degrees Celsius, which also preserves the nutritional value of the food placed in it. Ayesha says that if used correctly, products like earthenware bowls, tumblers, etc. can last as long as their glass counterparts.

Trance Terra currently manufactures over 2,000 pieces per month. Started with an initial sale of Rs 2,400 in the first month of its launch, the company now fetches Rs 4 lakh to Rs 6 lakh per month. It aims to record sales worth Rs 1.2 crore in 2023.

The company currently has no immediate funding plans and is looking to grow organically. As for the future, Trance Terra plans to employ more artisans and expand its product line. “Our goal from now on is to grow the business at our own pace and work on better products along the way,” says Ayesha.

Marjorie N. McClure