Kashmir Box: A Startup Trying to Take Kashmiri Ethos to the World

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The Story of Kashmir Box

Beauty is synonymous with Kashmir. It is vividly reflected in its people, geography and culture. However, the definites like art, architecture and handicrafts which actually define this beauty still struggle to get the deserving exposure. Nevertheless, as an initiative to address this issue and bring the ethos of Kashmir on a wider platform, Kashmir Box was launched.

Prior to the launch of Kashmir Box, there was no dedicated eCommerce company selling ethnic Kashimiri products online. Nonetheless, these products have been in demand worldwide.

Its founders, Muheet Mehraj and Kashif Ahmad Khan, saw an opportunity in the e-tail sector for the crafts of Kashmir, they saw the gates wide open. As opposed to tens of thousands of Kashmir art shops spread throughout the globe in luxury malls and five star hotels, there was literally nobody selling these crafts from Kashmir on the Internet.

Kashif during a research, realised that the artisans are paid minimum wages, and despite a great demand of Kashmir products on a global level, the artisan community unaware about the fact were leaving the sector due to low wages. The two men, together started this venture that offers authentic produce from Kashmir and at the same time it helps in the upliftment of the artisans. And that is how the idea of Kashmir Box was born.

It was founded in November 2011 by Kashif Ahmad Khan and Muheet Mehraj. It is a multi-product, multi-brand e-commerce marketplace, which deals in products from Kashmir.

Local artisans, craftsmen, entrepreneurs and the other creative Kashmiris have KashmirBox as a platform to showcase, promote and sell their respective products and skills in India and the global marketplace.

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Muheet Mehraj was looking out for opportunities for e-tailing crafts from Kashmir, he saw the gate wide open, as opposed to tens of thousands of Kashmir art shops spread throughout the globe in luxury malls and five star hotels, there was literally nobody selling these crafts from Kashmir on the Internet. On the other hand, during a research on the art and craft sector, Kashif Ahmad Khan realised that the artisans are paid minimum wages, and despite a great demand of Kashmir products on a global level, the artisan community unaware about the fact were leaving the sector due to low wages, in which they could barely survive. The two men, together started this venture that would offer authentic produce from Kashmir and at the same time help in the upliftment of the artisans. And that is how the idea was born.

Till date, it has raised a seed funding of Rs. 50 Lacs. Kashmir Box is incubated by Kashmir Business Factory, whose head Ishfaq Mir, is a mentor and director on board of KB.

Helping the Artisans

Artisans and craftsmen products are promoted and sold on KashmirBox (KB). Along with that an artisan gets a bouquet of services and consultation from KB team on issues like market trend, financing, brand building, cataloging and reaching out to distant corners of the world for trade purposes.

An artisan who gets minimum wage and has minimum resources to procure raw material for making a product has little or no access to a market. KB fills this gap by providing the artisan, a digital platform to sell his work globally.

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It also takes help of the local media, newspapers and local events to reach out to them. Currently, around 1000 artisans are associated with Kashmir Box. The company has also partnered with various artisans groups which has increased their reach to more artisans.

Seasonal Products and Orders

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KB uses the technique of vacuum packing to preserve the seasonal products like Walnut, Saffron etc, for a period 6-8 months, keeping their freshness intact. Whereas, for products like apples and other seasonal produce, they work on a seasonal basis, as these items having short life can not be preserved.

Presently they are processing around 600-1000 orders monthly with a growing number. And 150+ international orders have been processed which includes, B2B, B2C and design house orders.

Future Plans and Goals

The company’s immediate plan is to raise funds and scale up marketing, human resource, infrastructure and technology.

Currently, the company is focussing on India and aims to roll out 1000+ brands out of J&K. It is also looking forward to tying up with retail chains to make the availability of these niche products to a wider audience.

Kashmir Box’s plan to replicate the model in other parts of the country to get better livelihood for artisans, is a part of their future strategy.

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