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If you are a FRIENDS fan, you will clearly remember the episode “The One with the Apothecary Table”. It’s the episode where we learn of Phoebe’s dislike of Pottery Barn’s mass-produced products. She complains that mass-produced products don’t have a story behind them and aren’t unique. And not just Phoebe, a lot of people want to buy things that are not common.
Besides the charm of uniqueness, there is also a feel-good vibe about owning a handmade product. Which is why after decades of people swooning over malls and supermarkets, the proprietors of mass-produced items, we are shifting towards handcrafted, unique designs and products that feel special. A lot of platforms are, therefore, coming out with handmade products to provide uniqueness to their customers.
One such platform is iTokri which has been making ways in their customers’ hearts with exclusive handmade products. What makes iTokri extra special is not just the kind of products they are creating but also the way they are building a distinctive brand narrative.
The Story of iTokri
iTokri is India’s only crafts and artwork retailer which deals in unique handmade products, manufactured and collected from different geographical locations in India. From village communities, small-town manufacturers to urban handmade retailers; the platform gives a chance to every craftsman to showcase their innovative designs and products. It is an online commerce site that aims at celebrating creators from every corner of the country and bringing them all to one single place.
iTokri has its own inventory of handmade artisanal products. It is a hub where you can find popular crafts from different states like Gujarat’s bandhani sarees, Andhra’s ikkat handloom fabrics and Odisha’s pattachitra paintings. The site includes pieces of jewellery, household items, dress materials, etc. The co-founders, Jia and Pamnani, have shared that their organization focuses on taking care of the sales while letting their craftsmen focus on their creativity.
A Handmade Woolen Muffler from iTokri
When we first ordered a woollen muffler from iTokri, we were sure that the quality of a handmade muffler would be different from any factory-made product. And yes, it was! From the texture to the hand-knitted interlocking of yarn loops, the muffler is exactly how a mom-made sweater from childhood would feel like. However, the surprise was how iTokri had presented itself in the packaging.
They had packed the muffler in a quirky box made with newspaper. Just like in the early days when we used old newspapers to pack things, iTokri brought the exact replication of our memory that was lost amidst the plastic packed gift boxes. Inside the paper cover, there was a box wrapped with a random old question paper along with iTokri’s brand label.
The surprise, however, didn’t end there. Right above the purple muffler that we ordered, there was a handwritten ‘Thank You’ note with a gift packet of handmade earrings. The way iTokri managed to connect us with their brand story, even before unboxing the package, melted our heart. It’s this experience which is rare and personal that makes the e-commerce platform so different from its contemporaries.
The Purple Muffler Wonder
Out of all the interesting homemade products, we went for a hand-knitted muffler in purple. The muffler is from a brand named Kilmora from Uttarakhand. It’s made of hand-spun wool, created with the traditional hand knitting technique. However, the muffler has a contemporary sensibility that will make it wearable with both Indian kurtis, and western sweaters and coats.
Right from the first touch, you’d know the authenticity of the garment. Its delicate yarn is weaved with time and precision. The hand knitting makes every section unique and unrepeatable. Most people prefer machine-made woollen products because of their smoothness and uniform texture. But this handmade muffler, to a great extent, delivers that uniformity without inappropriate bumps and knots.
However, like any genuine handmade garment, the intricacies of the knots and the texture of the knitting is careful, detailed and unpredictable. It is as if every cable of yarn in the muffler is crossed with a unique thought of the knitter, that is not found in any other product.
The knitting is perfected in a way so that there are no loose ends in the muffler, a great thing for a woollen garment which often tends to get stuck and the wool thread rolls out. The muffler is also incredibly smooth and soft. The wool has a natural elasticity that stretches aptly. Therefore, you can easily stretch it and wrap it in double folds. Although light, the wool feels thick enough to wear it in severe winters, even in the snowy valleys of Dharamshala!
The muffler we ordered is purple, and although the website gives a warning that the product may not have the exact colour resemblance from the picture on the site, we think it’s almost the same. The purple looks glossy, and when we matched it with a black sweater, it worked great. Overall, the muffler feels exactly how the website describes it. We thought it would be a bit heavy, but it’s absolutely not! Therefore, if you are thinking of getting one, you can surely go ahead.
We Got More than the Muffler
When we ordered the muffler, we got so much more than just the product. We got to see the finest quality of fabric woven with detailing, along with a brand narrative that has inspired us to refer it to our friends and come back to the site again. We were intrigued to read about the product’s brand’s, Kilmora, backstory. It was delightful to know that it’s a brand that promotes the livelihood opportunities of a local community with 200 artisans and 350 small farmers. The thought itself correlates you to their journey to which you’d want to contribute.
iTokri’s online presentation shares a lot of information about their products and their brands. They add information like the original place of the product, the process of manufacturing the product, the details of the product texture, etc.
Also, iTokri very specifically picks products that are produced in limited quantities. They are particular about not repeating their products. There’s also a wide variety of items. It’s basically a haven for the artisans to weave tales with their art and for the artsy hearts to find products that are atypical.
Among a heap of factory-made goods and machine-styled designs, a hand-knitted muffler, a handloom saree or a homemade pendant is like a breath of fresh air. It’s unique, rare, and comes from a legacy of artistry that remains unparalleled to the standardised versions of factory made products. And that’s why platforms like iTokri need to be seen and heard more. They need to be out there where people can pick rarely found products and appreciate the time and effort the craftsmen require to create those products. And, if you are one of those who like to find things that are uncommon and have a story, you should definitely check out iTokri.