Ria Banerjee, a passionate crafter from Kolkata is selling 100% Handmade Cards and Paper crafts with her Startup, Criar

Shraddha Mishra Date - 20/6/2017

Ria Banerjee, Founder of Criar is a multi-faceted personality. She is a teacher by profession, a student completing her B.Ed. and gearing up for PhD, a painter by avocation and a passionate crafter for life.

Clair

Criar, which means to create, is one of the newest startups in Kolkata which deals with all sort of cent per cent handmade gift items and it specializes in Greeting Cards. Criar is known for its cards, all types of cards that can be customized according to budget and choice of the client. Criar has also won worldwide card making challenges and currently is designing products of many companies. Criar was founded in 17th July, 2015 with the name RB-Artfx. The name has been changed in Sept'2016.

Here is Ria Banerjee to tell us more about her startup and her inspirational journey.

Q. How did you come up with the idea of starting Criar?

The Idea of starting Criar came from the support and encouragement of my friends who liked my handmade greeting cards from the beginning, then they wanted to buy those and gift it to their near and dear ones. Here is how it got started. I started taking orders of customized cards that could be adjusted to anyone's budget. I started my journey by investing as low as 2000 rupees and the revenue generated was enough for me to keep moving.



Q. How Criar helps to recreate the essence of handmade products in today's time where artificial products are ruling the market?

I believe in gifts with handmade touch that adds a soul to the materialized item. Before going ahead with Criar, I did a market survey of about 100 respondents asking them what do they prefer - artificial or handmade! The answer was unanimous - HANDMADE. The reason told by them that handmade items express your feeling more than an artificial gift item. I make sure that feelings of the person are accurately depicted in the customised gift item made by the house of Criar. And I am happy to see the growing responses in the market.



Q. What are the exclusive products that Criar makes?

Criar makes exclusive products. I try not to repeat any design and in one year I have made 500+ designs in greeting cards only all alone. Criar started its journey with greeting cards but with the passage of time, it included many more handmade products like -

  • Cards including invitation cards and wedding cards

  • Paintings (both in canvas and glass frame)

  • Recycled Bottle decor 

  • Recycled Bottle lamps

  • Assorted Bookmarks

  • Handmade coasters (from Recycled items)

  • Pinewood penstands

  • and many more.


    I make products for Corporate Gifting too. I put more stress on recycled items to encourage the use of 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle).



Q. What difficulties did you face in the initial stages while establishing Criar?

The journey of a startup has never so easy for anyone. Same goes with me. The most difficult challenge I faced was gaining People's trust. People were not sure that whether to count money on a handmade item or not where they have been buying from Archie’s for years. I am extremely happy that my work has been able to gain people's trust and turn them from artificial gifts to handmade gifts. 

The next challenge that I faced was the financial crunch. I had invested a very low amount but I made sure not to take money from any other sources, so I kept one part of the profit to invest for the next buy. This strategy worked for me and I am still following the same mantra.



Q. Encouraging the use of handmade products is essential for nature. But the hard work put in by the artisans gets unnoticed. Do you think entrepreneurial initiatives can bring a major change in making these materials popular?

Yes, nowadays we often see organic products and handmade items are in great demand, but as an artist primarily I feel sometimes our hard work gets unnoticed. People see and value the material input in any product, sometimes the hard work and the idea behind that exclusive product goes ignored. I feel proper entrepreneurial initiatives can bring a change in the market.  



Q. What according to you is the ideal path between having an idea and seeing the final product on market?

The ideal path between having or striking an idea and seeing the final product in the market is ultimately the hard work and the proper plan. Entrepreneurship is a lone journey where you can only give a shape to your idea in real. Lack in the proper plan may not give you the desired results.



Q. What is the best aspect of being an entrepreneur? 

The best aspect of being an entrepreneur is that YOU can take your own decision, only you can give a shape to your thoughts and you can mold them as it is when needed to. A journey of an entrepreneur is totally parallel from the mainstream, definitely not a part of the rat race. The risk is high but the satisfaction after the great results is much more than the scale of risk taken.



Q. What advice would you like to give to future women entrepreneurs in the society? 

In this patriarchal society, the potentiality of a woman is subdued everywhere. But yes, I won’t deny from the fact that women are getting the recognition for their hard work. Many times, people do not take women entrepreneurs seriously but that cannot stop a woman from stepping ahead. A short message to all the aspiring Women Entrepreneurs - Believe in YOU! 





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