Adding Colour to Passion

Color D Earth, a social enterprise empowering artisans | WEBO PowerCreating terracotta jewellery by moulding soft clay into objects of adornment may be an uncommon hobby. However, even more uncommon or maybe even rare, is the ability to see a business value in such a hobby. Color D Earth is an enterprise of such uncommon vision and a deep-rooted passion of its founder Hema Subramanyam. Color D Earth is a unique social and sustainable enterprise that produces exquisite handcrafted terracotta jewellery while providing livelihood to about 120 artisans across India. It is today a flourishing enterprise that is profitable, environmentally-friendly and is helping improve the economic condition of artisans in India.

From a housewife to a successful business owner, Hema’s entrepreneurial journey is truly inspirational. Hema candidly reveals, “Somewhere inside me there was an entrepreneur and I never realised it!”

Discovering her passion

In 2003, terracotta weaved its magic on Hema when she took up a hobby course along with her children. This led her to discover the hidden artist within her and she soon began experimenting with this medium. Participation at exhibitions and the encouraging response she received to the sale of her creations, showed Hema the commercial value her craft was capable of generating.

Her financial situation motivated her to turn her hobby into a commercial venture and she employed four girls to assist her in scaling up the volumes she produced. As the demand for her products grew, Hema began collaborating with artisan groups, however realising that the venture was not generating the expected profits.

The Turning Point

Hema’s selection into the Women Entrepreneurship Program in 2009 at ISB, Bangalore by Goldman Sachs, was a clear turning point and was instrumental in helping her take her business to the next level.

‘I had never been out of my home for more than a week’, shares Hema. Attending the 3-month course and living away from her family was a huge step, but this experience gave her tremendous exposure and presented an opportunity for her to interact with mentors and peers who expanded her horizons and enhanced her business acumen.

Hema describes her valuable takeaways, “I had approached business from a creative point of view – now I had a business plan, a direction, marketing knowledge and I could track my finances.”

Building a Social Enterprise

Hema’s selection into the three week International Visitor Leadership Program [IVLP] by the U.S. Department of State further gave her a global business perspective and a deeper understanding about social enterprises.

She shares, “My brand is not about me anymore but also artisans who I strive to empower economically.” This led her to rename her brand ‘Alankriti’ to ‘Color D Earth’ and transform it into a social enterprise that is working towards improving lives of artisans.

Hema initiated ‘payment on delivery’ terms with her clients which she also practices with her artisans – thus eliminating the long credit cycle that has crippled many in the handicraft industry.
Her artisans are spread over Jharkhand, Mumbai, Karnataka and West Bengal. “I just find my way towards them.” she quips on her widespread artisan base.

She uses the digital medium to find them and leverages social media to identify, understand and connect with her online audience. “People like to be associated with a person – not a product without a face or story,” she reveals. “Social media,” she says “has boosted my business greatly.”

Expanding horizons

Hema believes that her professional courses helped her gain a wider perspective and have given her strength and confidence to run her business better. She also maintains that one has to be open to learning from others. “You cannot be in a cocoon – speak to a lot of people and get a mentor before you start.”

Hema’s perseverance and the goodwill she has earned have taken her a long way as she continues to pursue her passion. She is committed to collaborating with and empowering more artisan groups in time to come. WEBO Power wishes Hema the best for her future and for continuing on her wonderful journey of passion.

Interviewed By: Nafisa Sethwala, Team WEBO
Posted On: January 2, 2013

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2 Comments on “Adding Colour to Passion”

  1. for art of candle making, terracotta pendent mould & other home business visit ….

    February 21, 2015 at 3:14 pm Reply
  2. kalai #

    very good u have contact no.

    March 5, 2014 at 10:56 am Reply

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