Crafting has always been a fun activity for every child during their school years, but thinking of taking it a notch higher was something that crossed Harish and Rashmi Closepet’s minds.
Scrapbooking had originated in a place called Utah in the US and had become immensely popular in the 1960s. Card making and mixed media [an art form created through a mix of different media such as ink, paint, and water colors] had also become popular around that time but it had a revival in the last few years and became extremely popular.
This Bengaluru based couple, Harish and Rashmi Closepet were convinced to convert this fun-filled task into a full-fledged business. They have successfully provided jobs to over 2000 women, along with fun-filled activities in the lives of thousands of people across the world.
By turning this fun-filled childhood activity into their business of choice, they surprised everyone by having a turnover of Rs. 64 crore. They proceed with manufacturing, sales, and export of the art through their two companies, AEC Offshore Pvt. Ltd. and Itsy Bitsy Pvt. Ltd.
Rashmi is a homeopath by training, and her husband is an engineer by profession. They had bid goodbye to their comfortable lifestyle in Australia 10 years back and returned to Bengaluru. They wanted to work for a cause that’ll help society. They decided to help the rural women by helping them become independent and stand up on their own with the help of crafts.
Idea behind Itsy Bitsy
Along with having their primary focus on handmade crafts, they have also expanded their work into acrylic paints, home décor, and jewelry.
They set up their units for training the women in places like Mandya, Chamarajanagar, and Hesaraghatta and taught them handmade paper-craft.
The couple initially started with 40 women employees and now has around 2000 women employees. “We used to wait for them to finish the work for hours and train them to cut and design accordingly to finish the product,” said Rashmi in an interview.
Challenges faced by them
They had entered the retail market in the year 2007 with their first Itsy Bitsy store in Bengaluru. Now they have around 21 Itsy Bitsy stores in seven different states across the country with 11 stores in Bengaluru itself and the remaining spread across different cities like Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, and Hyderabad.
Rashmi said in one interview – “It was initially difficult to make these women understand the value of the work. Some of them would take 15 days long leave if there was a fair in the village.”
Though it took them a little time to sort everything out, the determined and passionate couple did not give up on their dreams.
Itsy Bitsy Achievements
Rashmi says – their women employees come up to them and talk about how they have built their own houses, successfully educated their children, and have started living life on their terms.
Both of them feel immense joy and satisfaction in seeing their dream of making this society a better place come true. They justify the fact that if we are determined to do something, we’ll always find a way out.
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