Our Story

From The Hands of Rural India

‘Deshaj’ meaning indigenous, is an outcome of the successful revolution run by the people of rural India, most commonly known as ‘untouchables’ or the backward classes. These people of the deprived classes have been trained and nurtured to develop their craft skills and artistic abilities by the support of AIM-Art Illuminates Mankind; a social welfare organisation for artisans and West Bengal Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes Development & Finance Corporation. This artisan led fashion and lifestyle brand has its production unit running in Moram Art, Craft & Wellness Centre near Shantiniketan, a place well known popular for its establishment by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.

Every individual artisan, specially women from the nearby villages are active members of the Deshaj family and growing entrepreneurs of rural India. Every product is purely handmade with utmost care, dedication and love by these artisans which has been widely appreciated by customers across India. This has led to a strong livelihood model and development for the women artisans in special. Deshaj is not just a brand but a ray of hope that shall keep the passion for art and craft alive in the hearts of thousands of rural artisans in India.

Brand Deshaj

Brand Deshaj is an initiative of West Bengal Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes Development & Finance Corporation and facilitated by AIM-Art Illuminates Mankind; a social welfare organisation for artisans in India has a network of almost 50,000 artisans all over India, working with various art and craft forms. This wide experience and learning about Indian art and craft has led to the development of brand Deshaj, which is a visionary project to generate livelihood, self-sustainability and financial growth for the rural artisans of India. The aim is also to revive and capitalise the diversified richness of Indian art, craft and cultural heritage.

Every month, specially designed training programmes are organised in collaboration with expert trainers and designers so as to develop more and more skilled artisans who eventually become part of the Deshaj family, creating a livelihood for herself and her family. This initiative inspires women of various villages to come forward and prove their ability on grounds of gender equality and social bonding. Also, every Deshaj product that sells, a part of its revenue goes for the development of the ‘I Love My Tribe’ project; an initiative to support the Backward Classes of India.

SONALI CHAKRABORTY Secretary, Co-Founder, India

15 years back, she first started a social welfare organisation for artisans in India which now has its member network of around 50,000 artisans. Her strong determination and dedication has resulted in building the foundation for brand Deshaj. She is a writer, researcher and social reformer who has actively worked with women artisans of India, supported by the Government of India. Her vision is to create strong and self sustainable models for the deprived and backward classes of the society, especially women artisans.

GOPAL PODDAR Chief Creative Director, Co-Founder, India

With an experience of 25 years in the field of art and craft, Gopal is a well known artist and architectural designer from Kolkata. He has travelled every corner of India in the search of rare crafts and master artisans belonging to the cultural roots of this magical land. He is also the Chief Creative Director for brand Deshaj and looks after the product development and design management process. His vision for the development of Indian art and craft has been the cause for multiple livelihood generation models for artisans, specially women.

DAYA DISSANAYAKE Chief Mentor, Sri Lanka

He is an award-winning bilingual Sri Lankan novelist, poet and blogger and the only Sri Lankan writer to receive the Sri Lankan State Literary Award for the best English novel thrice and was awarded the SAARC Literary Award in 2013. His association with brand Deshaj started with his creative and philosophical interpretation of the name ‘Deshaj’. He has been a wonderful friend and guide towards creation a social revolution, reforming justice and dignity for artisans of Deshaj family. His love for pure, organic, handmade and eco-friendly traditional products is truly unconditional.

GARGEI AISTOV Chief Mentor, Russia

An art connoisseur, antique crafts collector, film maker, product designer and most interestingly a spiritual guru who has been travelling the world extensively. His experience and knowledge is like an ocean which helps sail Deshaj to reach new destinations and horizons. His spiritual insights and lessons have been an integral part in building the core values, ethics and principals for brand Deshaj. As a true guide, he shares the responsibility to develop Deshaj globally and generate numerous livelihoods for artisans throughout India.

VANKAR DEBJI PREMJI Principal Artisan, India

A true follower of Kabir; the 15th-century Indian mystic poet and saint, Debji is one of the most passionate and dedicated weaver artisan whose love for craft sets a true example for others. His brilliance and skill has been recognised by the Indian Government with the National Award in Textile Craft. Being the Principal Artisan for brand Deshaj, his expert suggestions and skills are like a treasure trove for developing various high quality products.

SHREYOSHI GOSWAMI Project Director, India

A project director’s vision enriches the aim of the project. As a student of philosophy her thought process, monitoring and keen interest for traditional art and craft has helped the brand. She has been a strong pillar for this organization. She is currently applying her experience and knowledge in implementing and developing the lives of the thousand artisans, with the vision to promote handicraft and handloom in every corner of the world.

SUBHAJIT BASAK Financial Planner, India

Playing the most important role isn’t easy. He has been a strong pillar in the construction of brand Deshaj, starting from merely nothing to something. He takes care of all the accounts management, financial planning, budgeting and e-commerce. He also plans for the socio-economic development of the backward classes and rural artisans associated with brand Deshaj and it’s various self-sustainable models.