What makes a company great? You’ll come across different answers depending on who you’re asking. Shareholders will say something like “one that keeps growing and generates more profit every subsequent quarter”. The worker who clocks in and out everyday will probably say something on the lines of “one that pays well, on time, and respects its staff’s work-life balance”. A customer will probably talk about how a great company makes an excellent product. But what about legacy? Can a brand do all of the above and then go further beyond all of it and be known for doing actual good in society?
Yes, if the company in question is Jaipur Rugs.
Founded in 1978 by Nand Kishore Chaudhary with just 2 looms and 9 artisans, Jaipur Rugs is the largest handmade rug manufacturer in India. Today, the company has 7000 looms and works with over 40,000 artisans, 85% of them women. Not only is the brand super active in India, it also has a wide, global presence. It has a branch office in the United States, and thanks to its extensive worldwide distribution network, Jaipur Rugs also has stores in Italy, China and Russia.
So how does the company do it? How does it maintain a high quality threshold and also scale up at the same time? The secret is a balance between simplicity backed by a brilliant insight. You see, when Mr. Chaudhary set about starting Jaipur Rugs, he placed his faith on this philosophy.
“My life’s purpose is to create a business that is all about innocence: serving innocents, employing innocents, led by innocents. Innocent people have the power to see and understand things others cannot. That will transform the business beyond recognition, because they can go so deep into the human condition.”Nand Kishore Chaudhary
In 1978, working directly with artisans was a revolutionary concept, but this business model turned out to be an absolute winner. This model let the brand go for the pursuit of profit, while at the same time, while spreading kindness in a way that benefitted all stakeholders - consumers, artisans, employees, suppliers, and buyers.
The Manchaha Initiative
Under the Manchaha (meaning “expression of my heart'') initiative, Jaipur Rugs is enabling artisans to do more with their skills as expert weavers. This is the first time weavers in Rajasthan are getting to design their own rugs thereby fully unleashing their creative potential and eye for unique design. Each rug, handmade with more than 200,000 knots, is the story of its creator – with emotions, dreams, and personality.
Freedom Manchaha Initiative
Now this is where things get super interesting. Under the Freedom Manchaha initiative, long-term inmates of Jaipur, Bikaner and Dausa Jail get to design their own rug spontaneously on the loom. Each rug is made of 222,184 individual knots in every square meter using handspun leftover yarn in carpet production. The benefits are twofold - it solves a major wastage problem, and more importantly, it gives a much-needed push to the cause for dignity and rehabilitation of a section of society that has predominantly been ignored. And from a design perspective, each rug made under ‘Freedom Manchaha’ is unique, just like the colour palette it uses.