Love rattan and bamboo furniture? TN startup connects you with artisans who make them
Nagercoil-based startup Irukkai, run by 29-year-old Santhosh Kumar, specializes in rewiring your chairs, steel beds and other furniture, as well as custom furniture.
Minimal looking rattan chairs (cane chairs), aesthetic bamboo furniture, chic and retro-looking wire furniture with wood and steel frames are increasingly preferred by interior designers and interior designers. While many of us may own a few pieces of sugar cane furniture and maybe even an old wire chair, the resurgence bodes well for artisans who need it. The fact that the furniture makes your room look minimal yet fashionable is an additional advantage.
Irukkai, a Nagercoil-based startup owned by 29-year-old Santhosh Kumar, specializes in rewiring your chairs, steel beds, and other furniture, as well as custom furniture. Santhosh, who learned the art of weaving with wire from his father who makes it as a business, says Irukkai is just a platform that connects customers with artisans.
“People often find it difficult to find craftsmen who work with sugar cane or bamboo. Sometimes they find them, but the artisans don’t show up. With Irukkai, we ensure that there is a successful partnership, ”says Santhosh.
He continues: “The workers are also exploited and do not get the income they deserve. Therefore, even if work gets in their way, they show no interest. At Irukkai, we don’t negotiate with them. We take about 5-10% for our ongoing expenses. “
The startup was only officially launched last year and has around 15 craftsmen in Chennai, Trichy, Madurai, Nagercoil, Tirunelveli and Salem. Santhosh also has some teams in Trivandrum in Kerala and Bengaluru in Karnataka.
The idea itself came to Santhosh quite by accident. He remembers how when he was 17 he’d wired up an entire cot on a whim to make pocket money, and this gave him the confidence to tell people about his skills. “I posted to a blogging group that I knew was weaving and that anyone who wants to get work done can contact me at my number. I still get calls from this post and in a way it was a start for what I’m doing with Irukkai today, ”says Santhosh.
After working for an IT company in Chennai for some time, he returned to Nagercoil to start his own startup. He also runs a boutique with a few friends. “First I introduced customers to some established furniture manufacturers because I just couldn’t handle all the traffic on my own. It was only later that I found out that the customers were not satisfied with the service. I then recorded it myself, ”says Santhosh.
The BE graduate traveled to a few locations across the state and compiled a contact list of all the artisans he could meet. “I also had help from customers who shared contacts with the craftsmen they had hired in the past. This helped me build my directory. “
With this crowd-sourced team of artisans, Santhosh’s Irukkai is helping clients find people who can help with their furniture needs. He explains that bamboo / wire mesh is not only used for furniture, but now also for cupboards, cupboards and room dividers. With patterns like bird’s eye view, tic-tac-toe, four-way, six-way, diamond, cross, star of David, double daisy, honeycomb, lace, etc., it is artistically beautiful to have such furniture too have. Santhosh adds that such furniture is also preferred over rexin and plastic, which get uncomfortably hot with prolonged use. “Drivers in particular are given a cable frame for their seats to avoid health problems,” adds Santhosh.
The furniture is made from plastic wire or natural fibers such as bamboo, rattan and even palm fiber. The skills required to work with each type and the cost of the final product will vary. “We source the bamboo fiber from Assam, which is readily available and costs about ten times as much as plastic fibers / wires. There are also palm fibers that come from southern districts but are very seasonal, ”explains Santhosh.
Nagercoil All-Women-Team, Santhosh’s mother in third place from the left
As a next step, Santhosh hopes to reach different communities of people and train them in weaving. “In Nagercoil we have an all-female team, including my mother. In Chennai we have a few teams made up of people with visual impairments. In the future, I would also like to reach the trans people community, the elderly and people with disabilities of all kinds. This ability can help them make a living. We are ready to train anyone interested, ”he says.
You can contact Irukkai here.
Show us some love and support our journalism by becoming a TNM member – Click here.