Rutul and Ronak.
Brothers-in-Arms. Bird Whisperers. Makers of Makers. Slo-Mo Ninjas. Conservationists by Design.
Back in the days, when human life was a lot less complex, the songs that played in Indian movie halls and village homes were simple and idyllic. Lilting tunes drenched in allusive lyrics often inspired by themes from life and nature, blared out of big brass kolambis (gramophone record players) at a local wedding, or in the homes and haunts of the privileged.
Koottil Ilam Kili Kunjatta Kili was one such song from the 1960s that played its way into the hearts and minds of the village folk. The song’s lyrics draws a parallel to the reel life story of the movie protagonists Laila-Majnu, and is a playful romantic interlude between a male weaver bird and its heart’s desire, the female weaver bird (Kunjatta Kili).
The male bird pleads to the female bird not to leave him and the humble nest he has built for her, should the charms of a princely suitor from a jewel studded abode in a faraway date orchard beckon. The female bird in return, sings of her unwavering loyalty to her soulmate and promises never to leave their little nest in search of greener pastures.
Quite simply, themes from nature and observations thereof, were an integral, inspirational part of human life back then. Poets, songwriters, children and even ordinary folk weighed down by their daily chores, eked out time to notice the birds and the bees, and care for the flora and fauna around them.
Zip back to modern times…
Technology has roller-coasted its way into our lives and so have traffic jams, factory wastes, and non-degradable pollutants. We now have more technology, less time. More dependency on high-speed machinery, less space for humanity. Does anyone really care to spare a thought for the less privileged craftsmen? Do we care to linger over the words reduce, reuse, recycle except in corporate conferences, social media hashtags and online petitions for conservation? Do we stop by to watch the deft kingfisher, or answer the calls of the lone cuckoo? How many of us really sit back and notice the bulbul that visits our balcony every morning, or the sparrow that no longer returns?
Allow us to introduce you to two fine young men who have done all this and more. Meet entrepreneurs and Unfactory collaborators, Ronak and Rutul Shah. The Shah brothers are Co-founders of Chatur Chidiyaa, a conscientious venture born out of their true love for nature, a passion for conservation, strategic skills in design and engineering, and a deep respect for indigenous craftsmen.
The birth of Chatur Chidiyaa.
This beautiful start-up story begins three years ago in Ahmedabad when the two brothers had graduated; Ronak, an MBA in Innovation Management, and Rutul, a Masters in Industrial Design from NID (National Institute of Design). It all started off as a fledgling classroom project studying avian life and eco-conservation methods in and around the Nal Sarovar lake and sanctuary.
The brothers had absolutely no family background in business. But with the help of the rural artisans from Ahmedabad, and with a nod of approval from the government and forest department, the students set up a small shop on the Nal Sarovar lakefront creating and promoting beautiful clay figurines of common birds from the area, and in turn, building a case for indigenous skills and ecological preservation. In the years that followed, the brothers decided to expand their Nal Sarovar project into a solemn entrepreneurial sojourn that would help empower local artisan communities – fusing together skills in engineering, marketing, strategy and design, while keeping alive a genuine concern for nature. And voila, Chatur Chidiyaa was born.
From Nal Sarovar, with love.
Sourcing talent locally, the brothers realised, invariably led to the upliftment of the underprivileged artisans. Playing to their strengths and backgrounds in Management and Design, they soon brought in fresh perspectives and helped their already skilled workforce adapt to newer streams of knowledge and contemporary concepts in design. A strong offline-online business model expanded their reach pan India, while thoughtfully chalked out exhibitions in start-up friendly cities, helped the venture pick up momentum.
Of sparrows, bulbuls and other peppy delights.
Currently, team Chatur Chidiyaa lights up the lives of over four families of rural potters, with the senior most potter taking the lead to teach and train the rest of the community. The artisans work magic with their hands, sculpting beautiful life-like replicas of regional and exotic birds out of the finest Thangadh clay.
House sparrows, kingfishers, tailor birds, parrots, bulbuls, flamingos, owls and a host of other exclusive avian beauties are already a part of the gorgeous line-up.
Just hop by the Chatur Chidiyaa page on Unfactory.in and you can take home your favourite from the irresistible Peppy Pops series – a charming addition to your home or garden, or indeed, a wonderful gift.
All things heartfelt and handmade.
The concept of nurturing the underprivileged and finding new ways of engaging their skills in delightful pursuits didn’t quite stop with the Peppy Pops collection. Today, brand Chatur Chidiyaa has a growing array of thoughtfully designed products in its portfolio – each of them lovingly, painstakingly handcrafted by underprivileged artisans from various strata of society.
Tailors, roadside painters, book binders, women embroiders, glass blowers and even the differently abled (among whom are an artistically talented group of autistic children) are today a proud part of the happy Chatur Chidiyaa family.
Reduce, Reuse, Recyle.
Rutul and Ronak dive deep in at every step to ensure that their process and procurement cycle is thought-through to the last detail. The team recycles to minimise wastes, and stays true to the brand philosophy – of remaining earthy and eco-conscious by design. The eclectic range of designer stationaries are fashioned out of meticulously handcrafted paper, re-purposed from discarded extras sourced from local printers and scrapyard collectors. The themes and palettes are cleverly customised to suit modern sensibilities, adding a contemporary twist to traditional bookmaking. The packaging more often than not is adorned with deftly folded origami birds, all created and assembled in-house from paper to brass wire, completely by hand.
Chatur Chidiyaa’s glass, ceramic and wood crafted kitchen and dinnerware collection fuses functionality and design, pairing exquisite porcelain and ethically sourced pinewood, all the way from Germany and Australia. The cute MudMags range of fridge magnets are creative expressions of a talented group of differently abled children who were involved every step of the way from conceptualisation to creation and eventually, the sale of their very own handmade products.
The brilliantly hued Mandap pouches, believe it or not, are skilfully recycled shamiana fabric, enhanced with gorgeous Kutch work by underprivileged women embroiders from local welfare organisations.
There is nothing untouched by a human hand at Chatur Chidiya and every piece spells a beautiful story! Shop the eclectic collection right here at the Unfactory store or discover the complete range and more about the makers at Unfactory.in.
Hear the little birdie say ‘tweet tweet’? ☺