First Steps: Creating Artha Collections

November 18, 2015

Tamil Nadu countryside at dawn


The idea for Artha first came to life in early 2013. It was through a combination of our experiences working with and learning about craft, and our belief that craft could be leveraged to provide sustainable livelihoods that we, Catherine and Claire Grigioni, a mother-daughter team, developed an initial concept. Though living in different countries, and involved in work and other activities, we spent the next year and a half discussing, brainstorming and perfecting our idea before Artha was formed in September 2014.

Catherine is the "mother" part of our team, and has been working with a group of Lambadi artisans in Tamil Nadu, India since 2011. As her relationship with the artisans evolved, she began developing products together with them and exhibited their work at fairs and home sales in both Singapore and New York. Deeper involvement brought with it the realization that century old crafts were at risk of being lost, as not only the artisans of this particular group, but artisans around the world are forced to leave their homes and families to pursue other jobs in order to sustain their livelihoods. Catherine was determined and committed to making sure she could support the craft of this group by continuing to produce, buy and then sell their products in her home markets as a way of widening their exposure.

On one of Catherine's regular visits to the artisans, Claire, having recently completed her undergraduate studies, decided to come along. Over time, she got to know the artisans, understood the issues they were facing and started forming a vision for how she could help. She believed that by aligning the craft more closely to the needs of the end consumer in terms of design and color, she could create desirable products that could be sold internationally. After spending some time in the hospitality and branding industries, Claire decided it was time to use the skills she had developed to create a company that would focus on finding ways to build up a steady source of income for the artisans, with whom she could develop a self- sustaining partnership.

So, combining our interests and strengths, we created Artha. Pronounced with a short "th" reflected in the dot under the "t" in our logo, Artha has many meanings depending on the context in which it is used. When translated from the Sanskrit it can be said to mean sense, goal, purpose or essence. Directly reflecting the meaning of the name, our company was created with a goal and purpose: to create unique and authentic home and personal accent pieces while supporting the livelihoods and the craft of artisan’s in various regions around the globe.