NSRCEL Start-up: Silpakarman
Meet the Shree sisters, whose blend of bamboo tea can really boost your inner strength
Innumerable cups of tea must have been brewed during the pandemic, surely many more than usual. But the cups of tea we are most interested in are the ones that Akshya Shree and Dhwani Shree were coming up with.
It’s been over six years that the Shree sisters and the artisans of Tripura have been designing and producing matchless bamboo products like mugs, cups and most recently, masks via their start-up, Silpakarman. Even after being inducted into the Forbes Asia 30 Under 30 class of 2021, the sisters’ entrepreneurial spirit continued to drive them. It is the same spirit that has implored them to come up with their latest flagship product, launched on May 26, 2021, a bamboo tea called, BeYouTea.
In the several months leading up to their launch, the duo took to talking about bamboo leaves. After making use of the stem to a great extent, they wanted to focus on the leaves. “Since our philosophy has always been about being eco-friendly and using every aspect of bamboo, we started thinking deeply about bamboo leaves,” says Akshya Shree, CEO and Founder-Director of Tad Udyog, the incorporated company under which Silpakarman was launched in 2017. They already knew that the ash produced from burnt bamboo leaves had water-filtration properties that were unparalleled. What else is it capable of? To discover, they had the artisans from Tripura send them various leaves via post which were thoroughly washed, dried on their balcony and hand-crushed. “We were working on several blends, different proportions of different species of bamboo leaves to nail the perfect balance in terms of fragrance, taste and colour. And finally, after blending nine species of bamboo leaves, we nailed BeYouTea,” reveals the entrepreneur.
Lab-tested at Standard Analytical Laboratory, an FSSAI-certified lab, this blend of bamboo tea has a strong nutritional game. Silica is the key here, the micronutrient responsible for healthy nail and skin plus most importantly, cartilage-building which contributes to bone and muscle health. “This tea is the perfect balance between science and traditional knowledge,” says the 27-year-old who credits co-founder and co-conspirator 24-year-old Dhwani Shree for this blend. Though they started working on this in 2020, the pandemic reined in their process to a large extent and even though the pre-orders are in and the first batch of production is complete, they are logistically hand-tied and will be able to ship the tea out only by mid-June. They have even filed for a patent for their blend, attained FSSAI certification and have a few other blends in the making. Which will, by the way, be infused with local and seasonal fruits and veggies.
“The tea is for inner strength and since more and more people were opting for herbal blends anyway, we thought that this would click as well,” says the youngster who has pursued a short course in Export Management from the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Delhi.
It’s been a long journey that the sisters have been on. But even as a child, if one would ask Akshya Shree what she wanted to be, she knew she wanted to have a business of her own. Handmade bamboo products and rural entrepreneurship is where her interests peaked and she pursued them, full-throttle. Connecting with artisans, logistics and communication proved to be the biggest challenge. National Centre for Design And Product Development, Guwahati; Bamboo & Cane Development Institute (BCDI), Agartala and the Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship helped them a lot and so did Tanmay Majumdar who was initially with Tripura Bamboo Mission and after 2017, has been one of their most-trusted local partners in Tripura who seamlessly coordinates with all the cluster of artisans they are working with. The result is for all of us to see.
Silpakarman has also worked a lot in training the artisans and supplying them with tools and equipment that they would need to make bamboo cups, coffee mugs and glasses. Now they have 17 variations of the cup alone and ship not only in India but also to Sweden, the US, Australia and Germany. Plus, they are incubated at IIM Bangalore’s NSRCEL as well.
Now, the sisters are working on a diverse set of products including customised bamboo decor, essential oil inhaler, bamboo fabric (which is at a nascent stage) and bamboo charcoal products as well! Godspeed to the Shree sisters!
For more on them check out silpakarman.com
Source: Edex via The Indian Express