When she was volunteering in Gujarat after the 2001 earthquake that devastated parts of the state, Mumbai-based Neha Gandhi was exposed to the Kutch region. She saw the various styles of handicrafts it boasted of, and thus began her journey with social responsibility. Her efforts formally translated into Matsya in 2010. “Matsya is focussed on bridging the gap between the rural craftspeople and the urban global traveller,” she explains.
While Matsya retails and markets products made by rural artisans across India through its website and supplies to select stores across the country, its handcrafted and customised crafts tours are extremely popular. They are tailored to individual preferences and provide travellers the opportunity to interact with craftspeople in the villages. “The tours can be specialised to include textiles, pottery or any particular craft the visitor wants to experience,” Gandhi says. These tours can range from three to five days or more, and engage the audience with rural communities, their lifestyle and crafts.”
Currently, Matsya organises tours in Kutch, parts of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Jaipur. “I don’t market these tours; Matsya has gained recognition through word of mouth,” Gandhi says.
Having been associated with the handicrafts sector for over 15 years, Gandhi’s venture is a story of success. Matsya has gained popularity over social media campaigns, and she independently coordinates it all as she ties up with NGOs and artisans. While the tours are geared towards international tourists, they can be customised for anyone. “Art and design students, researchers, bloggers, business students–the tours cater to all. It’s about supporting rural craftspeople through a social enterprise that ultimately contributes to the Indian economy.”
For more information: matsyacrafts.com