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  • Internationalizing Indian Ethnicity – Graamyam by Rakkee Thimothy and Biju George

    Published on October 18, 2022

    “Traditions are the guide posts driven deep in our subconscious minds. The most powerful ones are those we can’t even describe, aren’t even aware of” – ‘thus spake Ellen Goodman’, the Pulitzer winning American journalist.

    Something got ignited in the minds of the entrepreneur Biju George and Economist Rakkee Thimothy when they were on a leisurely trip across Kerala. The duo was looking for adventure and fun, but the voyage helped them re-discover their roots and connected them to their deep sub conscious passion for ethnic Indian culture and traditions – and Graamyam was born.

    Graamyam is an artistic endeavor by an IT professional turned entrepreneur named Biju George and his spouse Rakkee Thimothy, an eminent labour economist. They discovered their calling when they saw art, craft and also the pathetic situation of the lives of the craftsmen involved in it.  Along with enjoying the artistic nuances, they decided to build an economic eco system through which the crafting skills of artisans can survive in the modern world.

    All this sounds fashionable fairy tale, but the hardships on ground were innumerable. Integrating modernity into indigenous communities and yet retain the soul of their tradition was like meeting of sky and earth. Rather than speaking in front of audiences about upliftment of the marginalized communities, the duo wanted concrete action on ground that would set the life and livelihood for the historically marginalized and yet to be mainstreamed sections of the society, on an upward trajectory.

    The magic of Graamyam is integrating neo modern designs with traditional handicrafts. The designs done with a modern global consumer in mind and taking lot of inspiration from nature, are then converted to craft by traditional artisans without affecting their traditional crafting rhythm. This way, they retain their traditional knowledge and their livelihoods and also incorporate modernity. Finding a market and helping the communities to earn livelihood for sustaining their traditional knowledge was the Himalayan task.  

    The story of Graamyam is one of empowerment and upliftment of marginalized communities to continue their sustainable and eco-friendly crafts. Their handcrafted product portfolio covers a vast range, from cotton dupattas and sarees, tableware, kitchenware, and home decor. The natural fiber home decor and other items made from kora grass, bamboo, and coir, preserve the authentic artistry of the communities. Graamyam, true to its name, is of the village, respectfully keeping the spirit and integrity of traditional craftsmanship through eco-friendly and sustainable products.

    Graamyam work with seven craft communities in Kerala, God’s own country. Graamyam is now diversifying into more craft categories by working with more craft communities. Rakkee, driven by her immense experience and insight as a labour economist, want to enhance the standard of living of women craft persons in the region. She was moved by the employment conditions prevailing and partnered with her husband Biju to be changemakers.

    Interventions by Graamyam has helped revive dying crafts like the Kannadipaya made by tribal communities. They provide them with needed resources, working capital and training facilities to upskill and update those working in this arena. This famed initiative has become a boon for the ethnic communities by helping them set up shops and guiding them into modern market practices.

    Graamyam through its ecommerce platform, makes its unique handcrafted products available globally. Following a strict quality assurance process ensures products are made without using harmful chemicals. Since all products are handmade, there is uniqueness in each product.

    Biju George and Rakkee Thimothy has won laurels across the spectrum for their path breaking initiative which is enhancing the lives of the indigenous communities. The journey they undertook for their own personal adventure has become a milestone in the journey of craftsmen communities and provided them with much needed mainstreaming for their traditional art and craft.

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