Matr Boomie: With Heart by Hand

November 16, 2018

Manish Gupta has a unique and incredibly involved vision for his company. Matr Boomie began as a natural extension of his connection to Indian craftsmanship and his refusal to accept the status quo.

“My sister has a handmade paper workshop in India, so I was helping her market the paper goods she sells. I did a trade show for them, and that’s where my idea began. At that time, the majority of artisan made goods were marketed through specific fair trade shops, which focused on artisan goods from across the world.” He was captivated by the impact of fair trade business practices, but his curious, entrepreneurial mind saw immediate opportunities to expand the reach of these products.

“When I started the company, we were primarily selling to these stores. What we realized was a lot of the products were directly picked from artisan markets in their respective countries, and they were not in tune with trends in the States. So a lot of people wanted to support artisans, but couldn’t really use the products. So one of our focuses is to go deep with our artisans, but also to be design aware. We want our customers to pick up the goods because they are attracted to the design first and then learn and engage with the story.”

This philosophy is the tip of the iceberg for Manish. His passion for creating beautiful, sustainable products is impressive, but he views Matr Boomie’s impressive products as a natural extension of a comprehensive business philosophy. “I believe that doing good is good business. We are inspired to help the industry make a shift towards sustainable, ethical practices.” These practices manifest in many forms, in every facet of the relationship between artisans, brand, and end users.

“We don’t try to push a solution but actually listen to the artisans and work with them to meet their needs.”

For Manish, beautiful, useful products are a key tool for artisan empowerment. “We find that there are a number of product-related reasons why artisans are economically at- risk: quality, volume, product relevance, reach, etc.” His thoughtful understanding of the relationship between artful craft and the end user is impressive. He explains the way an individual group of artisans may not have the volume or capital to order high end zippers, which can quickly make their otherwise gorgeous products irrelevant on the global market.

What makes Matr Boomie unique is the way it forges deep, ongoing relationships with every team of artisans it works with. It has a team of 12 people in India who focus on identifying artisan groups that have compelling products and soulful stories. “Their role is to travel, find new artisan groups, understand their art form, and understand their community challenges. When we find an artisan community that we feel is motivated to create a social impact, our designers study their art form and figure out how we can create a product that celebrates their particular art form and is also market-ready. Then our team works with them to create products that we design using their skills and art. That’s where a big impact of our work is — when our teams are working with the artisans, we constantly evaluate their challenges and supply chains and then we match any impediments and community challenges like lack of education or health care to support them and go deep and figure out the best way to support them. We don’t try to push a solution but actually listen to the artisans and work with them to meet their needs.

“We work with artisans who make belts, and one of the things that we realized is that part of the process is putting belts in a furnace, and we realized that they were using old, small, inefficient furnaces that made the process unnecessarily time-consuming and dangerous. So we worked with the artisans and brought over a team of technologists from a nearby university and built new furnaces for free for the artisans to improve their productivity and safety — both for our products and products they want to sell elsewhere.” Manish believes in long-lasting, impactful solutions for every community Matr Boomie engages with. And it is constantly sourcing new inspiration from India’s vibrant creative community.

The team that made the necklace in the Winter CAUSEBOX has its own story of entrepreneurial chutzpah. “The group coordinator’s daughter reached out to us. When we met them, we didn’t even carry jewelry, but we were inspired by their story, and so we decided to try jewelry, and today it is our biggest selling category. And it’s not really just us helping them — they are helping to grow our business as well, and the more we grow, the more business they have. That’s the beauty of fair trade. We ended up sending that girl to college, and she was the first girl from that community to go to college.”

Every person’s needs are as different as the thumbprints and unique stitches they leave on their work. Matr Boomie celebrates both with reverence and relevance, and the results speak for themselves.


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John is the managing editor at CAUSEBOX and a traveling writer who lives on the road with his dog, Hank.