ART — Changing Our World!

Some artisans of Ruas

Some artisans of Ruas

Empowering Traditional Women Artisans —

1. What is your organization, and what do you do?
Ruas is a social enterprise created to empower traditional women artisans through the power of co-design and by raising awareness about their historic craft forms. We believe that artisans are artists waiting for the right platform to link them to markets, a place that gives them freedom to use their imagination for creating what they wish and stringent fair trade practices. Judy Frater, founder of Somaiya Kala Vidyalaya where they educate artisans puts it best —

“You are a worker on your own farm. You sell the land to someone else and become a bonded labourer. The worst part is that the artisan assumes the person intervening must always be right.”

Our products are hand embroidered by artisans for artists. Some examples of our products are camera straps, art cases, guitar straps and more. As a founder, my job includes taking care of every aspect of the business such as design, marketing, finance, photography and a lot more!


Tote Bag

Artist’s Tote Bag


2. Why art?
We believe there is an artist in all of us. I had read somewhere, “The earth without art is just eh.” And I couldn’t agree more. Art is highly undervalued in India and we wish to do everything to support artists and change the current scenario. It is a cause I personally connect to.

3. When did all this begin, what was the inspiration?
It has been a slow but steady journey. I grew in many small towns of India and saw the plain bias against women very early on in my life. Unfortunately, a career in arts was not even considered as an option. In my spare time, I used to meet artisans and couldn’t believe how they could ever be poor. Their stories, skill and amiable nature made me wish to help them someday. 90% of women artisans in India have no education. Ruas is a juxtaposition of two things I am very passionate about supporting artists and empowering traditional women artisans.


Rabari - Guitar strap

Rabari – Guitar strap


4. What subject(s) and media(s) do you prefer?
I like photographing creative people and their daily lives. Mundane things are the most powerful to me. I also love painting on photographs. At Ruas, I am currently working on a documentary photography series called, “The Artisan Artist Project” that documents the lives, struggles and stories of artisans plus artists. The idea is to show the creative side of both. I want people to see that despite where we are or how different we are from each other. We have so much more in common that we can imagine.

5. How do you work and approach your mission?
Before starting Ruas, I spent a lot of time with artisans and the no one complaint they had was not getting enough money but not having a platform to innovate. They wanted to do things on their own. This is why we follow the concept of co-design. We make the product design and the artisans conceptualize and make the embroidery designs.


Rabari - Choker

Rabari – Choker


6. What are your favorite art work(s), artist(s)?
Gerhard Richter is my absolute favorite. I am also very inspired by the traditional art and crafts of India.

7. What are the best responses you have had to your organization?
Almost everyone who gets our product is amazed by how beautiful they look. That reaction is precious and encourages us.

8. What do you like about your organization and work?
I love the journey of creating a product, creating strategies, selling to artists, everything really. Except finance, that part does not come naturally to me and I am still learning to be better at it.

9. What advice would you give to other organizations like yours?
Social Impact takes time. In our digital age of instant gratification, we have to understand some things will always take time. All that you can do is, never steer away from your vision, work hard and keep trying. Plus always stay curious and implement ideas as quick as you can. There is no right time or moment when you will feel a 100% prepared.


Camera bag

Camera bag


10. Where do you see your organization in 5-10 years?
We have three main aims:

1) To be the one stop shop for artist products.
2) To empower and work with artisans from different parts of the world.
3) To build a thriving artist community that grows together and aims to create an impact in our world.